By Linda Sue Park
Reviewed by Ford Zhao, age 13, California
Published by Clarion Books
For ages 11 and older
A Long Walk to Water is a book based on a true story of a young man and young woman in Southern Sudan. This book begins with two different timelines. One is centered on a young man named Salva, who starts his timeline in 1985 as an eleven-year-old. The other timeline is of an 11-year-old girl named Nya, whose timeline starts in 2008 and who must fetch water two times every day for her family. The problem is that the pond with the water is two hours away.
Meanwhile, Salva, a man who has been forced to flee the war in South Sudan, walks the African land as a refugee looking for his family and a safe place to stay. He travels with many others who are in the same boat. Salva endures a lot of pain, whether it is from the savage animals of Africa, attacks by armed rebels, or just from loneliness. Eventually, he is adopted by a family in the United States.
During this time, Salva learns how to be an independent, bold young man. Salva sees the death of his friend and his uncle right before him; he feels stronger and bolder. Salva learns to make a plan and stick to it until the end. In the last chapter of the book, the two characters’ timelines come together in a beautiful way.
I like this book because it shows a lot of courage in Salva and shows a life that most U.S. kids will never experience. Between Sudan and the U.S., there are very different geographic features, leading people to have very different experiences. Throughout the book, we can see how different Sudan can be with such different geographic features and a very different culture compared to the United States. Written by Linda Sue Park, who won the Newbery Medal for A Single Shard, this book does a great job showing the differences between Sudan and the United States.