A Long Walk to Water

By Linda Sue Park (2010)

An Intermediate and Middle School selection.

Picture Book Companion available.

Linda Sue Park tells a story of perseverance, a story of hope, a story taken right from recent headlines. A Long Walk to Water is Salva Dut’s story, but it’s also a story of those who, like so many, are born into unfortunate circumstances and their heroic journey to overcome such circumstances. Park sheds light on harsh global truths and kindles a flame in readers to help make a difference. Through this beautifully told story, readers will come to understand that everyone is involved in global issues and therefore, everyone must be part of global action.

Like thousands of Sudanese, Salva is separated from his family by the Sudanese Civil War, and forced to travel on foot across hundreds of miles through hostile territory and harrowing situations. He survives starvation, animal attacks, and disease. Beyond the physically harsh environment, Salva’s hope and determination are also put to the test as he literally is faced with losing everyone that he loves and cherishes. During his nearly ten-year journey, Salva is faced with dangers most could never imagine. Salva somehow manages to use these tragedies to tap into the strength that lies within himself. He also finds kindness and companionship during pivotal moments that carry him through his darkest days.

Juxtaposed with Salva’s story, is that of Nya, a young Sudanese girl whose days are consumed with endless walking to get water for her family. The mesmerizing dual narratives weave two threads into one beautifully connected tapestry. The end result is a culminating story of hope, forgiveness, and kindness. The heartfelt and uplifting conclusion meshes these characters’ stories into one – a story that must be shared.

Salva demonstrates that hope and perseverance can carry one through. Linda Sue Park tells a story of hard work and determination as she helps us see how Salva rises above the evil, adversity, and hardships he faces. Students in the more privileged western part of the world will learn and benefit from getting to know Salva and Nya. Their journeys can open students’ eyes and enlarge their perspective, perhaps even sparking a deep concern for global issues. A book that can change the world? This might just be the one. Read it. Share it. Do something about it.