Thursday, March 20, 2008

Laura's Review - What is the What

What is the What
Dave Eggers
475 pages

This is the life story of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the "Lost Boys" of Sudan. Separated from his family at the age of 7, Valentino walked across Sudan into Ethiopia with hundreds of boys in similar circumstances. For 14 years, while his country was ravaged by civil war, Valentino lived in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. He was ultimately resettled to the U.S. as part of a relief effort.

Valentino's story is heart-breaking. He witnessed violence, and cruelty at such a young age. His own village was attacked by militia, with villagers brutally murdered. During the walk across Sudan, boys routinely died of malnutrition or other illnesses. Conditions in the refugee camps were appallingly bad. And it shocked me to realize that these refugee camps were not at all temporary; that a conflict can exist for so many years that the camp becomes the only life its inhabitants know.

This was a difficult book in many ways, but extremely well-written. Highly recommended. ( )

My original review can be found here.

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