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The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy 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.
Content Observations: This is a fairly short read, but it packs a big punch. There isn’t any strong language or sexual content. You can, however, expect extreme violence without it being graphic.
1. Salva felt fortunate to be able to attend school, although it took him an half to get there. How do kids in this country view the privilege to have an education?
2. What are your thoughts to the religious aspect to the war? Is it okay to force people into a religion?
3. For seven months out of the year, Nya’s days were spent getting water – dirty water? How does this make you feel about tasks you must do and find yourself complaining about?
4. It would have been so very easy for Salva to give up hope. Have you found yourself losing hope in much less dire circumstances? Any new perspective on this?
5. The Nuer and Dinka tribes were constantly at battle against each other. Both sides probably spent a lot of time seeking revenge instead of forgiveness and understanding. Any thoughts on this?
6. Ultimately, Salva has water wells drilled for the Nuer people. What does this say about his character, and does this inspire you in any way?