Reviews for Long Walk to Water : Based on a True Story

Booklist Reviews 2010 September #1
"*Starred Review* After 11-year-old Salva's school in Sudan is attacked by brutal rebel soldiers in 1985, he describes several terrifying years on the run in visceral detail: "The rain, the mad current, the bullets, the crocodiles, the welter of arms and legs, the screams, the blood." Finally, he makes it to refugee camps in Ethiopia and then Kenya, where he is one of 3,000 young men chosen to go to America. After he is adopted by a family in Rochester, New York, he is reunited with the Sudanese family that he left behind. There have been several books about the lost boys of Sudan for adults, teens, and even for elementary-school readers. But Newbery Award-winning Park's spare, immediate account, based on a true story, adds a stirring contemporary dimension. In chapters that alternate with Salva's story, Nya, a young Sudanese girl in 2008, talks about daily life, in which she walks eight hours to fetch water for her family. Then, a miracle happens: Salva returns home to help his people and builds a well, making fresh water available for the community and freeing Nya to go to school. The switching viewpoints may initially disorient some, but young readers will be stunned by the triumphant climax of the former refugee who makes a difference with the necessities that we all take for granted. Teachers may want to point out the allusion to Nelson Mandela's A Long Walk to Freedom (1995) echoed in this moving book's title." Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
Park presents a novelization of how Salva Dut, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, escaped his war-ravaged country and returned years later to found a company called Water for Sudan, Inc. A tandem narrative follows another Sudanese eleven-year-old, Nya, in 2008, as she trudges to and from a murky pond to collect water for her family. Park's spare text is riveting. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #1
The long walk is actually two -- two journeys that converge in Park's spare text, a novelization of how her friend Salva Dut, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, escaped his war-ravaged country and returned years later to help revitalize it by founding a company called Water for Sudan, Inc. In 1985, gunfire outside eleven-year-old Salva's schoolhouse drives him and his classmates from their village. Not knowing if his family is dead or alive, he eventually joins a refugee group heading east to Ethiopia. A tandem narrative follows another Sudanese eleven-year-old, Nya, in 2008, as she spends her days trudging to and from a murky pond to collect water for her family. After Salva reaches the Ethiopian refugee camp, the text feels rushed, skipping over his years at multiple camps ('Salva was almost seventeen years old now'; 'Salva was now twenty-two years old') and, finally, in the United States. But the first half of the book offers a riveting account of his trek through bush and desert, facing starvation, finding his beloved uncle and losing him again to murderous thieves. Nya's story is also moving, as it illustrates the hardships of inaccessibility to clean drinking water and the wonder of receiving a village well -- drilled by Salva's company. Nya is amazed to discover that what her community needed most had been right there, beneath their feet, all along. CHRISTINE M. HEPPERMANN Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 October #2

Salva Dut is 11 years old when war raging in the Sudan separates him from his family. To avoid the conflict, he walks for years with other refugees, seeking sanctuary and scarce food and water. Park simply yet convincingly depicts the chaos of war and an unforgiving landscape as they expose Salva to cruelties both natural and man-made. The lessons Salva remembers from his family keep him from despair during harsh times in refugee camps and enable him, as a young man, to begin a new life in America. As Salva's story unfolds, readers also learn about another Sudanese youth, Nya, and how these two stories connect contributes to the satisfying conclusion. This story is told as fiction, but it is based on real-life experiences of one of the "Lost Boys" of the Sudan. Salva and Nya's compelling voices lift their narrative out of the "issue" of the Sudanese War, and only occasionally does the explanation of necessary context intrude in the storytelling. Salva's heroism and the truth that water is a source of both conflict and reconciliation receive equal, crystal-clear emphasis in this heartfelt account. (Fiction. 10-14)

Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 October #3

Newbery Medalist Park's (The Single Shard) spare, hard-hitting novel delivers a memorable portrait of two children in Sudan--one an 11-year-old Lost Boy, Salva, who fled in 1985 and later immigrated to the United States, and 11-year-old Nya, who collects water for her village in 2008. Park employs well-chosen details and a highly atmospheric setting to underscore both children's struggles to survive. Salva's journey is tragic and harrowing, as he's driven by attacking soldiers and braves hunger, shifting alliances among refugees, and the losses of a friend to a lion attack and his uncle to violent marauders. "The days became a never-ending walk," he reflects. Salva's narrative spans 23 years and highlights myriad hardships but not without hope, as he withstands the deprivations of refugee camps, leads 1,200 boys to Kenya, and eventually gains sanctuary in Rochester, N.Y., where he still lives (he also contributes an afterword). Briefer entries about Nya preface chapters about Salva, illustrating the daily realities and sacrifices of modern-day life in Sudan. The eventual connection of Salva and Nya's stories offers the promise of redemption and healing. Ages 10-up. (Nov.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 November

Gr 5-8--Salva and Nya have difficult paths to walk in life. Salva's journey, based on a true story, begins in 1985 with an explosion. The boy's small village in Sudan erupts into chaos while the 11-year-old is in school, and the teacher tells the children to run away. Salva leaves his family and all that is familiar and begins to walk. Sometimes he walks alone and sometimes there are others. They are walking toward a refugee camp in Ethiopia, toward perceived safety. However, the camp provides only temporary shelter from the violent political storm. In 1991-'92, thousands are killed as they try to cross a crocodile-infested river when they are forced out of the country; Salva survives and gets 1200 boys to safety in Kenya. Nya's life in 2008 revolves around water. She spends eight hours a day walking to and from a pond. In the dry season, her family must uproot themselves and relocate to the dry lake bed where they dig in the mud until water eventually trickles out. Nya's narrative frames Salva's journey from Sudan to Ethiopia to Rochester, NY, and, eventually, back to Sudan. Both story lines are spare, offering only pertinent details. In the case of Salva, six years in a camp pass by with the barest of mentions. This minimalism streamlines the plot, providing a clarity that could have easily become mired in depressing particulars. The two narratives intersect in a quiet conclusion that is filled with hope.--Naphtali L. Faris, Saint Louis Public Library, MO

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VOYA Reviews 2010 December
This fast, page-turning read is a work of fiction, but it is based on the true accounts of two eleven-year-olds growing up in southern Sudan. In 2008, Nya has to endure endless, long trips to obtain water for her family. Meanwhile, in 1985, Salva, who was born in a small village called Loun-Ariik, sits peacefully in his school as gun fire rings out in the distance. His teacher orders his students to run into the bush, not back home. The reason is because rebel soldiers are killing and taking over the neighboring villages. We read in alternation, the simultaneous stories of these two children, their lives separated only by a short time span Now Salva realizes all too quickly the horrifying predicament he must face. As he confronts the truth that his family may be murdered, he must flee for safety, shelter and food in the company of strangers. As he searches for his family, Salva has to make some life-or-death decisions. Will he continue to be a follower and possibly become a burden to his village elders, or will he be left with no choice but to lead young lives in a new direction? With every decision, danger greets him unforgivingly. While Salva ponders his future, he flees with the group he is traveling with to the overcrowded refugee camps of Ethiopia. He hopes that there he will find safety and food. If not, where will his life take him? This is a great book for high school students and an important novel for young adults who enjoy learning about other world cultures.--Sharon Blumberg 5Q 2P S Copyright 2010 Voya Reviews.