Goodreads Summary: A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about a girl in Sudan in 2008 and a boy in Sudan in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.
Park has woven an inspiring tale based on a true story. A Long Walk to Water will help young adults understand the conflict in a far away country. The story also emphasizes the importance of clean water and how one person’s struggles can inspire them to help others. Alternating between Nya’s and Salva’s stories, Park skillfully weaves the past with the present. It’s a very powerful story. One that I couldn’t put down. It’s a quick read, easily read in one sitting. This is a great book to generate a discussion about world issues.
Though shelved in the teen section at the library, Amazon lists the reading level as ages 9 to 12. I recommend it for 5th grade and up, but parents and teachers should be aware that there is some mild violence. It does after all take place in a war torn country.