A Long Walk to Water

Author: Linda Sue Park
Lexile Level: 720L
Reading Level: 5.9
Grade level: 6 - 9
My recommended age: 11 and up
Historical Fiction

Here is a story within a story.  An ordinary school day turns deadly when 11 year old Salva and his classmates are told to "run into the bush" as gunfire explodes all around them.  Salva finds himself alone and friendless as The Sudanese Civil War hits his village.  Orphaned and forced to join other dislodged members of the Dinka tribe, Salva begins walking across Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya in search of peace, safety and protection.  Intermixed with Salva's journey is the story of Nya, a young Sudanese girl, who must walk 8 hours a day to collect water for her family.  The two stories merge together in a moving conclusion that will make readers appreciate many of the everyday things we take for granted.

I can't even imagine life as is described in this book.  Reading it made me feel like a slug for ever complaining about the mineral laden water that comes out of my very own faucets at home.  The author does an excellent job telling this story, giving enough of the hardship details the characters faced, without overwhelming her readers with violence, blood, and gore.  Salva faces death, war, armed rebels, and animal attacks.  Rest assured the author included these events, but didn't dwell on details that made them hard to read about.  Overall a good read that would be an effective tool in battling my teenagers sense of entitlement! :)


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