- Paperback: 220 pages
- Publisher: Cladach Publishing (April 15, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0981892930
- ISBN-13: 978-0981892931
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,146,822 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A People Tall and Smooth: Stories of Escape from Sudan to Israel Paperback – April 15, 2011
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These stories will gladden - and tear - your heart. --Stuart Briscoe, (pastor, author, broadcaster)
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The book is a collection of memoirs, told through interviews with the author, in the words of 5 Sudanese refugees who have escaped into Israel. The author, an American Christian Jew, living in Israel, intersperses her own observations and a lot of history of Sudan throughout each story.
You will meet Gabriel. His presence is hard to miss in the small resort town of Eilat, Israel. He is very tall, very dark, and his skin is nearly hairless. Gabriel tells his story as a man of (about) 30 years old. But his story begins as a young boy, when he is forced to flee his country and family with thousands of other boys in danger of being killed or kidnapped by Arab militants. These boys came to be known as the "lost boys" of Sudan. He spends most of his childhood running, starving, thirsty, sick, sometimes imprisoned, and in imminent danger always. Growing up in southern Sudan, where most people are either Christians or animists, Gabriel has an amazing faith and trust in the God who makes and keeps promises. It's his faith in the promises of Isaiah 18 that will eventually take him across the desert into Israel and to a hostel by the Red Sea. Before landing in Israel, Gabriel manages to travel through the countries of Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia without a passport, and learns to speak English. He eventually attends an Israeli university.
You'll also meet Muna. A young mother abducted, by an Arab militant, as a little girl living in south Sudan, and taken to the north. Unable to speak English, her story is told by her husband, Andrew. Most children abducted from southern Sudan were taken to the north to live as sex slaves. But Muna was taken into the family of her Arab abductor and loved and cared for as his own daughter and raised Muslim. After her "father" dies things change drastically for her and she becomes a slave to her "brother". Not knowing her real name, language or age, her journey to escape and find her "real" family is nothing short of miraculous.
The stories of 3 more refugees, just as powerful, tragic, and miraculous, continue. By the time I finished reading this book, I was filled with so many emotions it has been difficult sorting them all out. There is deep gratitude for people brave enough to tell the truth of the gut-wrenching horrors that have happened in their lives. There is heartfelt sadness and anger at the idea of it all. Then there is the challenge of being like the author and her husband, the very hands and feet of Jesus, befriending and ministering to these amazing people. We have many Sudanese refugees in our city. I've never met one of them. I've never listened to their stories. I've never reached out.
Read this book. It will teach you . . . challenge you . . . change you.
After helping these refugees for a while, she asked several of the refugees to tell her their story for this book. (They spoke the story into a tape recorder, the author transcribed the material and edited the sometimes disjointed stories so that they were in chronological order, then she confirmed with the person that she'd written up their story correctly.) As the person tells his or her story, the author inserted some comments into the text (using another font so you could tell that the "speaker" had changed). These included her thoughts about how different their lives were from hers or brief stories about the other refugees that the main story reminded her about.
The stories were well-written and easily kept my attention. While the stories were vivid, they weren't graphic. I keep feeling that all Americans (and people from other 1st world countries) need to read stories like these so we can get a realistic perspective on our own lives. While the author did give an overview of the conflicts in Sudan, we mainly get an individual's personal view of the conflict and how it affected them. We also see the problems that refugees face after they survive the conflict and survive fleeing from it.
A black and white map showing the areas under discussion was included as well as some color photographs of the Sudanese refugees. Overall, I'd highly recommend this book.
I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.