Linda Sue Park
Clarion Books, 2010
Source: borrowed from a friend
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Based on the true story of Salva, one of the “lost boys” of the Sudan, A Long Walk to Water walks through the life of Salva in the 80’s and Nya in 2008. Nya must walk twice a day to gather water for her family. She does little else. Salva’s life is torn apart as he escapes his school when soldiers come into town, killing many. We follow Salva as he travels across deserts, swims across a river filled with crocodiles, and tries to keep hope alive in refugee camps. The majority of the book is focused on Salva, but we do have frequent breaks of Nya’s perspective.
A Long Walk to Water is a great read for middle schoolers. Although it is based on a true story, it is not nonfiction, and it would be great for students to read and then conduct research on Salva to find facts that support what happened in the story. It’s also a short read, making it pretty easy for students who may struggle with reading. I can see how this book could easily fit in with many different units that are already taught in middle school.
Despite this, I wish there was more to Salva’s story than what I’m given. I realize that some of the gruesome facts may have been left out since this is for children, but there are huge chunks of time that are simply skipped over. I also wasn’t a huge fan the Nya storyline. For most of the book I was wondering why we were following her when this was clearly about Salva. Although this is cleared up at the end, it just doesn’t feel authentic.
I would say A Long Walk to Water is worth the read, but don’t push it to the top of your TBR list.