77 of 91 people found the following review helpful
A long walk indeed for such a short book,
This review is from: A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story (Hardcover)
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I have mixed feelings about this book. The book follows a lost boy of Sudan and is based on a true story. There are many fine details about life in Sudan, starting with the young girl (Nye) who spends most of her waking hours walking back and forth to bring water to her family. What an essential topic for young adults (and adults) to read and learn about. As a teacher, I wanted to like the book, recommend the book, teach the book before I ever opened it. It's very short, a major plus for many reluctant readers, and the reading level is not challenging. But for such a short book, it feels long.
The chapters alternate between main characters Salva and Nye. Only at the end of the book is the connection between the two characters revealed, and it's the greatest pleasure of the book. Unfortunately, it doesn't rescue the book for me. For most of the book, the alternating chapters irritate because they are so disparate. Furthermore, the book covers some 20+ years of Salva's life in a span of 128 pages, most of which is spent walking. It's one of those books that we want children to love and some certainly will, but many will declare it boring. I couldn't help wondering if the book might be better told in flashback by Salva. With all that walking, Salva had plenty of time to think, yet there is no feeling in the thoughts. He misses his family. He worries the group will leave him behind. He wonders what will become of him. These are thoughts we need not be told--that much is obvious. I know this is Linda Sue Park's writing style, but it's not to my personal taste.
Based on what I know about the lost boys in Sudan, I braced myself to feel sick to my stomach while reading the book, but I never really did, except for one scene involving crocodiles (and soldiers). Park was responsibly sensitive about what to include regarding the violence and abusive soldiers. Between her sparse style and this sensitivity, however, the book and characters lack the emotional depth that should make Salva's story unforgettable, which it is. It's an important topic that young people should know about, but I'm holding out for a richer book on the topic.