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A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story

A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story

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A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story

4.5/5 (152 Bewertungen)
110 Seiten
1 Stunde
Nov 15, 2010


From Scribd: About the Book

A Long Walk to Water is based on two heartbreaking true stories. Nya, a young girl from South Sudan, fetches water from a pond that is two hours walk from her home; she must make this dangerous trek two times a day. A boy, Salva, has become one of the "lost boys" of Sudan, seeking refuge across the African continent as he flees from a war in which he would be either unwilling soldier or victim.

Throughout the story we follow both Salva and Nya through their independent adventures, coming to understand their difficult lives and the circumstances that brought their country to this desparate chaos.

A story of hope, tragedy, and redemption, A Long Walk to Water is a beautiful and heartbreaking glimpse of the Sudanese people and their struggles.
Nov 15, 2010

Über den Autor

Linda Sue Park is the author of the Newbery Medal-winning A Single Shard, the best-seller A Long Walk to Water, and the highly-praised novel Prairie Lotus. She has also written several acclaimed picture books and serves on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. She lives in western New York with her family., Twitter: @LindaSuePark

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A Long Walk to Water - Linda Sue Park


Map of Sudan, 1985

Copyright © 2010 by Linda Sue Park

All rights reserved.

Originally published in hardcover in the United States by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2010.

For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, write to or to Permissions, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 3 Park Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, New York 10016.

Map illustration by Kayley LaFaiver.


Park, Linda Sue.

A long walk to water : based on a true story / by Linda Sue Park.

p. cm.

Summary: When the Sudanese civil war reaches his village in 1985, eleven-year-old Salva becomes separated from his family and must walk with other Dinka tribe members through southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya in search of safe haven. Based on the life of Salva Dut, who, after emigrating to America in 1996, began a project to dig water wells in Sudan.

1. Dut, Salva, 1974?—Juvenile fiction. [1. Dut, Salva, 1974?—Fiction. 2. Refugees—Fiction. 3. Survival—Fiction. 4. Water—Fiction. 5. Blacks—Sudan—Fiction. 6. Sudan—History—Civil War, 1983-2005—Fiction.] I. Title.

PZ7.P22115Lo 2009



ISBN 978-0-547-25127-1 hardcover

ISBN 978-0-547-57731-9 paperback

eISBN 978-0-547-53284-4


To Ben, again

Chapter One

Southern Sudan, 2008

Going was easy.

Going, the big plastic container held only air. Tall for her eleven years, Nya could switch the handle from one hand to the other, swing the container by her side, or cradle it in both arms. She could even drag it behind her, bumping it against the ground and raising a tiny cloud of dust with each step.

There was little weight, going. There was only heat, the sun already baking the air, even though it was long before noon. It would take her half the morning if she didn’t stop on the way.

Heat. Time. And thorns.

Southern Sudan, 1985

Salva sat cross-legged on the bench. He kept his head turned toward the front, hands folded, back perfectly straight. Everything about him was paying attention to the teacher—everything except his eyes and his mind.

His eyes kept flicking toward the window, through which he could see the road. The road home. Just a little while longer—a few minutes more—and he would be walking on that road.

The teacher droned on with the lesson, about the Arabic language. Salva spoke the language of his Dinka tribe at home. But in school he learned Arabic, the official language of the Sudanese government far away to the north. Eleven years old on his last birthday, Salva was a good student. He already knew the lesson, which was why he was letting his mind wander down the road ahead of his body.

Salva was well aware of how lucky he was to be able to go to school. He could not attend the entire year, because during the dry season his family moved away from their village. But during the rainy season, he could walk to the school, which was only half an hour from his home.

Salva’s father was a successful man. He owned many head of cattle and worked as their village’s judge—an honored, respected position. Salva had three brothers and two sisters. As each boy reached the age of about ten years, he was sent off to school. Salva’s older brothers, Ariik and Ring, had gone to school before him; last year, it had been Salva’s turn. His two sisters, Akit and Agnath, did not go to school. Like the other girls in the village, they stayed home and learned from their mother how to keep house.

Most of the time, Salva was glad to be able to go to school. But some days he wished he were still back at home herding cattle.

He and his brothers, along with the sons of his father’s other wives, would walk with the herds to the water holes, where there was good grazing. Their responsibilities depended on how old they were. Salva’s younger brother, Kuol, was taking care of just one cow; like his brothers before him, he would be in charge of more cows every year. Before Salva had begun going to school, he had helped look after the entire herd, and his younger brother as well.

The boys had to keep an eye on the cows, but the cows did not really need much care. That left plenty of time to play.

Salva and the other boys made cows out of clay. The more cows you made, the richer you were. But they had to be fine, healthy animals. It took time to make a lump of clay look like a good cow. The boys would challenge each other to see who could make the most and best cows.

Other times they would practice with their bows and arrows, shooting at small animals or birds. They weren’t very good at this yet, but once in a while they got lucky.

Those were the best days. When one of them managed to kill a ground squirrel or a rabbit, a guinea hen or a grouse, the boys’ aimless play halted and there was suddenly a lot of work to do.

Some of them gathered wood to build a fire. Others helped clean and dress the animal. Then they roasted it on the fire.

None of this took place quietly. Salva had his own opinion of how the fire should be built and how long the meat needed to cook, and so did each of the others.

The fire needs to be bigger.

It won’t last long enough—we need more wood.

No, it’s big enough already.

Quick, turn it over before it’s ruined!

The juices dripped and sizzled. A delicious smell filled the air.

Finally, they couldn’t wait one second longer. There was only enough for each boy to have a few bites, but, oh, how delicious those bites were!

Salva swallowed and turned his eyes back toward the teacher. He wished he hadn’t recalled those times, because the memories made him hungry. . . . Milk. When he got home, he would have a bowl of fresh milk, which would keep his belly full until suppertime.

He knew just how it would be. His mother would rise from her work grinding meal and walk around to the side of the house that faced the road. She would shade her eyes with one hand, searching for him. From far off he would see her bright orange headscarf, and he would raise his arm in greeting. By the time he reached the house, she would have gone inside to get his bowl of milk ready for him.


The noise had come from outside. Was it a gunshot? Or just a car backfiring?

The teacher stopped talking

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152 Bewertungen / 59 Rezensionen
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Kritische Rezensionen

  • A Long Walk to Water is a tragic story of a young man in Sudan who just wants to live his life, who just wants to be happy, but is forced to flee from a war torn nation so that he isn't forced to fight, or be killed. Reading this story was very hard for me, partly because it is based on a true story, and partly because it makes me realize how easy my life is compared to the rest of the world. Heartbreaking book, but I wouldn't unread it if I could.

    Scribd Editors
  • Park is able to tie together two stories, seemingly in parallel, they eventually connect at the end in a beautiful way. Given that both characters are from Sudan, you suspect throughout the novel that they will somehow connect, but only when you realize that they are from "enemy" tribes, does it really hit home how far Salva has come in his journey. The fact that this book is based on a true story is saddening beyond measure, but it also inspires hope because we get to see such a strong human being persevere through so much. I try to imagine what it must have been like, a scared boy, a terrified teenager, going to a new and strange land, learning a new language to survive, and eventually reaching a point in his life where he could return home to help his amazing.

    Scribd Editors


  • (4/5)
    A boy describes his experience walking through central Africa in search of safety.
  • (4/5)
    I very fast read. A very basic book about the Lost Boys and the story behind them. None of the characters were developed very well. But it was interesting plot.
  • (5/5)
    This is a great book for middle school- maybe even older elementary students if they are mature. There is no objectionable language and the violence is not at all graphic. Yet, it is a heartwarming true story that comes together nicely in the end. will want to donate money to Water for South Sudan when you are done reading this.
  • (5/5)
    I really enjoyed the 2 interwoven stories of Nya, a Nuer girl and her daily 8 hour quest for water and that of the "lost boy", Salva as his story of fleeing his Dinka village in South Sudan. Salva's story is more detailed and thus, more compelling. I felt the fear and loss as Salva traveled east to the first refugee camp and then a few years later as he traveled to the second before finally coming to the US. I really enjoyed the linking of the two stories and the fact that Nya and Salva were from different tribes. I would use this book for study of "Lost Boys", refugees, and the importance of clean water everywhere in the world.
  • (4/5)
    This story is based on real events that took place in Sudan. It is told in two voices and two different time periods. Salva starts his story in 1985 when the war in Sudan was just reacing his village in Southern Sudan. Nya's story takes place in 2008. Salva's story is the story of one of the "Lost Boys" who escaped the war by traveling miles to refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. Nya's story is the story of water - how its scarcity ruled the lives of those in her village.
  • (4/5)
    This motivational piece of historical fiction tells the story of 11 year old Salva, Dut, one of “Sudan’s lost boys”, as he walks to safety fleeing Civil War in 1985 and again in 1991 when refugees were forced back into Sudan. Salva’s story is juxtaposed with the 2008 story of Nya. The Civil War is over but a fictional character Nya lives in an area of Sudan with no running water. She spends hours each day walking through the bush to a watering hole. As a teenager, Salva comes to America where he resumes his education and eventually learns that his father has survived. Visiting his father Salva is struck by the lack of clean water. He ultimately starts a foundation that has provided 104 water wells for South Sudan. One of wells is in Nya’s village thus the adult Salva and 11 year old Nya meet. Clean water will change her life, freed from the need to seek water, the elders in her village plan to build a school. The writing style is spare yet moving. I’m working with a 5th grade teacher to write a lesson plan using Long Walk to Water and the picture book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba as the basis of a 5th grade service project at my school this year. Our plans are still rough but we would like to read these two books, and participate in the water challenge.
  • (5/5)
    I love reading books that are based on real events. This is the story of two people from two different time periods, whose lives cross paths. The story of these two people is told in alternating chapters.Sudan has always been a hotbed of controversy and war. Innocent people are constantly caught in the crossfire. The majority of them are children. Salva Dut, eleven years old, is one of those children. They become known as the “Lost Boys”. It is the 1980’s and he is at school when his village comes under attack. The teacher hears the gunfire and sends the children running into the forest. They travel across the desert to a refuge camp in Ethiopia. After an extended stay they once again cross the desert to Kenya. Many of them don’t make it. They die of hunger, animal attacks, and attacks from soldiers. Once in Kenya Salva begins to learn some English. He is one of many chosen to travel to America to live with an adoptive family.The other character in this book is Nya and takes place in 2008. She like many other young people don’t go to school. She spends her day traveling several hours each way to bring water home to her family. She must do this in the morning and in the afternoon. She and Salva both lived in Sudan but in separate tribes that don’t get along. It is her tribe that attacked his village many years before.It is after Salva graduates that things in his country are affected by his actions. He and Nya meet and the reader sees how their paths have crossed and why it is important. I will be using this book in my classroom this year and I absolutely can’t wait for my students to read it. This is a must read for anyone interested in learning what happens outside their own home. It causes us to look at how lucky we are to live here in the United States.
  • (4/5)
    Surprisingly slim but poignant story based upon the true experiences of a "lost boy" of Sudan.
  • (5/5)
    Amazing story of a young boy, one of the "Lost Boys" during the time of the Sudanese 2nd Civil War. It is the children's version of a book I read about the same topic. Awe inspiring, paralleled by the second story running through the book of the water problem in the Sudan and how young children had to walk miles a day to fetch a container of water, in this case, twice a day. I read this book in a morning.
  • (5/5)
    I am a big fan of Linda Sue Park and I loved this book. Park does an amazing job of telling story through the ordinary events and yet making it so powerful.
  • (2/5)
    This book is not really a good crossover to the adult fiction world. It's written in fairly basic language. That's not to discount the serious themes; the book is simply, well, simple.
  • (5/5)
    A compelling story line that opens your eyes to immensity of the challenges faced by those who become refugees and should motivate us to change things. How do you change things, the story line covers that too.
  • (4/5)
    Based on the real-life experience of one of Sudan’s Lost Boys, Park tells the harrowing story of Salva Dut who, in 1985 at only 11 years old, escaped soldiers in Sudan, and spent ten years in refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. Dut credits his sense of hope and perseverance for keeping him alive all those years and for giving him the courage to carry on until he was sent to a family in America. Dut returned to Sudan in the mid 2000s, to give back to his homeland in the form of “Water for South Sudan” a non-profit organization that provides wells for Sudanese villages. One of these villages is the setting for the second narrative in this novel in which a young girl’s life is changed by the well provided by Dut’s organization.
  • (5/5)
    Great story on the harsh realities of Africa and their civil war. It is a reminder that we are protected in North America from hunger, war, drought, and brutality.
  • (4/5)
    Park tells, side by side, the stories of two young characters, Salva, a young boy in 1980s Southern Sudan, forced to run for his life when the war against the northern government comes to his village, and Nya, a young girl in nearly present day Sudan whose life is defined by her endless walks to and from a distant pond to supply her family with precious and hard to come by water. When gunshots ring out near Salva's school, his teacher rushes the kids out the door insisting that they must not return to their villages and potential slaughter but flee into the bush alone. What follows is Salva's perilous journey among strangers across dangerous terrain to the safety of an Ethiopian refugee camp. Nya's village struggles to find fresh water that won't sicken people, but it's becoming more and more difficult, until strangers arrive in her village with an unexpected gift.A Long Walk to Water is a short book, but a weighty one based on the true story of Salva Dut's terrifying childhood in his war-torn native country. It digs into the harsh realities of war in Sudan caused by both rebellion against the northern government that wants to force its Islamic beliefs on the whole nation and the dangerous animosity between the rival tribes of the south. Salva's story is both heartbreaking and often hopeless, but his refusal to give up and his coming of age under impossible circumstances are ultimately inspirational. Nya's story seems almost out of place, at first, highlighting the practical implications of living in an area where struggling to survive is forced to be the top priority, but the dual stories come together to offer a touching and pitch perfect ending.
  • (5/5)
    Fascinating and heartbreaking. This should be considered a must-read.
  • (4/5)
    A little slow to get going, but covers an event that doesn't get much coverage in schools. A good choice for the middle school curriculum, though I don't see a ton of kids picking this up by choice.
  • (4/5)
    This novel is the 2017-2018 Global Read Aloud and it’s the Pentathlon novel for this year.The story alternates between 2008 and the 1980s - 2000s. Salva is at school in 1985 when the war in Sudan reaches his town. The teacher instructs the students to run to the bush; if they try to return to their homes, they will not survive the war. Salva runs. After a few days he does find an uncle; otherwise, he is alone for decades. This is the story of the children of Sudan who lost their families and spent years in camps as they struggled to know what happened to their families and to stay alive. The other story takes place in 2008. This story takes place in Sudan, showing what has happened in this country since Salva’s experience. Nya spends all day walking to water and bringing water back home. She literally just walks back and forth to get muddy water. This water is what they drink because there are no other sources. Because the water is tainted, it’s not unusual for people to get sick and die because medicine and medical help is not readily available.This novel is an important novel because it’s a true depiction of a real person and a real country. To know what goes on around the world makes each of us more aware of our own lucky lives. It’s a short book and well worth your time.
  • (4/5)
    Required reading for all 7th graders starting next year, according to the Common Core Curriculum, and I'm thrilled that this was the choice. Not a phenomenal book, not rich in language and imagery, but the story is amazing and true. I love the author's chosen format, which you'll appreciate by the time you finish the novel. What I take from this reading experience is a frightful image that gives me an understanding of one risk of life on the Nile, a harrowing image of a real historical incident in Ethiopia that astounded me (something I can't believe happened and that I had not already known of it), the ability to identify Sudan, Kenya, and Ethiopia on the map, a feeling of helplessness about the refugee camp situation, and a hope that all painful experiences can lead to some "good."

  • (3/5)
    This is a story of two children living in southern Sudan. One story includes Nya who provides water for her family. Even though the water she gets from the lake isn’t clean, but Nya and her family has no choice but to drink the water. Her town advances overtime and builds a school and well. Salva, who is the main character of the other story, travel from Sudan going through Ethiopia, ending in Kenya. He walks this distance all by foot. From Kenya he is chosen to fly to America. He moves to New York and discovers that a lot of his family survived the bombing in his village. When Salva grows up his and Nya’s pathes cross when he serves her water at the well that was just finished. I like the fact that the story is told so the story is appropriate for children to read. I did not find the book amazing, but I would say the author wrote the book well. I this is a great story of two people and this story has helped me look at the world differently. I admire Salva's courage. Salva and Nya are strong and brave people. Their stories have inspired me. My favorite part of the book was when Nya and Salva's paths crossed.
  • (4/5)
    Very moving.
  • (4/5)
    Many times when you have 2 stories going back and forth through a book it is quite difficult to tell the difference between the two but in this book that is not the case Nya and Salva's stories are fit together perfectly. The story primarily takes place in Sudan from the mid 80's to the early 00's following the life of Salva, A lost boy from Sudan. A long walk to water is a story of strength,hope and perseverance. I truly enjoyed it and could see myself recommending this book to others.
  • (5/5)
    Wonderful account of a young man whose life was destroyed by the wars in the Sudan in the early 90's. Whose life was completely changed when he was educated in the United States and was able to Pay if Forward and help his country later in life.
  • (5/5)
    Inspiring story! Loved the way we feel we are there with Salva every step of the journey.
  • (4/5)
    What an incredibly important book!!! Read it! Read it now! It's less than 120 pages... you can read it in a day, but it may change your life forever!
  • (5/5)
    A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. This book combines two stories. One, Nya, a girl who is forced to drink muddy water in Southern Sudan in 2008. Two, Michael, a boy who is forced to leave his home because of war in Southern Sudan in 1985. Nya walks to a pond every day that is filled with dirty and muddy water for her family. Soon a well is built and she has fresh water in her village. During school, Michael is forced to run away because his village is dangerous due to a war. He travels to Ethiopa, Kenya, and many refugee camps. On his travels his friend and uncle tragically die. When Michael is sent to Rochester, New York from a refugee camp he lives with his new family. Years later he gets a letter saying his father has been found. Back in Sudan, he finds out his family is okay except his brothers who were killed. Afterwards Michael makes a project, Water For Sudan Inc., where he gives the children in Sudan fresh water. This is where Nya and Michael meet. Michael's project dug the well for Nya's village. I think this book is a good one. I chose this book because I love to read about true stories. It was tragic but interesting. I found this story amazing because if I were any of those people I don't think I would've survived they way they did or kept on going. The connection between the stories surprised me. This was definitely one of the most tragic, yet best book I've ever read.
  • (3/5)
    My teammate is using this book in her social studies class this year. Since I am the Language Arts teacher for the team, she asked me to read it so that I might give her some tips on how to approach it. And so I have done.

    Park's novel presents one young man's moving odyssey from war torn Sudan to the USA, and then back again. As one of the Lost Boys, Salva made the harrowing journey through southern Sudan to Ethiopia then later to Kenya. His story is told along side of a ficitional one about a young girl named Nya. Nya is a member of a tribe that is frequently at war with the Dinka, Salva's group over water rights. Nya spends most of her day walking to a pond for water. Their seemingly parallel stories address the tragedies of war, drought, and disease in Sudan in a manner that is accessible to younger readers.
  • (4/5)
    In this novel there are two stories happening at the same time. The first story takes place in southern Sudan in 2008-2009 and is about an eleven years old girl named Nya who takes a long to water to get water for her family. The main story takes place from 1985-2007 and is about a boy named Salva Dut. One day when Salva was at school a war brock lose and there was shooting that was happening in the village. Salva teachers told all the students to run to the bush and don't look back. Salve did as he was told but also wanted to find his family. He got pushed with a big group of a people and just kept running. That night the groups stays the nigh in an old barn but when he wakes up everyone is gone. They had left without Salva because he was a child and they didn't want him to slow them down. Salva meets a older women that he calls Auntie but soon another group arrives and she make arrangements for him to travel with that group. Along the way more people join the groups and after being with the group for a couple of weeks Salva realized his uncle Jewiir was there. Salva was so delighted to see a familiar face and his uncle made him feel safe because he was in the army. His uncle is now the group leader and is trying to get everyone to Ethiopia where there is a refugee camp. They had to cross the Nile river which took days and they had to make their own boats. The hardest part of the journey was walking across the Akobo desert. Salva had a very hard time staying positive but his uncle gave him gaols such as walking to a bush or a rock, that way the journey didn't seem as long. The group finally stopped and rested but they were attacked and uncle was killed. Salve didn't know what to do but for some reason he felt stronger. The group didn't really help Salva at all, they would make him bag for food. Eventually they made it to the refugee camp where Salva stayed for 6 years. One day soldiers invaded the camp and started pushing everyone into the Gilo river where they were forced to swim across. That river was known for the crocodiles and many people were either eaten by them or they drowned. Salva made it across Salva finds himself the leaders of over a thousand boys and he leads them to another refugee camp in Kenya. He spends the next five years in that camp but then hears that some people are getting picked to go to America. Salva gets picks and get a new family that lives in Rochester New York. Salva eventually starts college and studies business but one day he gets an email saying his father is in the hospital. He eventually goes back to see his father that he hasn't seen in thirteen years. After seeing his father it makes him what to do something about the stuff that is happening on Sudan. Salva works on his idea for helping them for years but he finally accomplishes it. He even gets to got to the town where he put a well in and that is where he met Nya.
  • (4/5)
    Based on the true story of Salva Dut. Eleven year old Salva is living with his family in the village of Loun-Ariik, in Sudan, Africa, going to school, having fun with his brothers, when the fighting that was going on in some parts of the country suddenly erupted in his village. "Run into the bush" his teacher told them, and Salva begins a long walk to find safety, a walk that costs a number of those walking with him their lives. Not far away a young girl, Nya, also walks in the heat to get water for her family. This takes her all morning. After a little food and rest, Nya has to do this trip again, every day it is the same, week after week, month after month.This well written book is a wonderful glimpse of the lives that some children have to deal with. While it is tragic, it is a story of hope and growth without being preachy and I would recommend this to any one 10 years and over, and especially as a class read aloud book. The end has a lovely twist.
  • (3/5)
    A powerful story for young readers about the triumph of dogged perseverence and never giving up. As horrifying as his experiences were, Salva's mantra was "one step at a time, one day at a time." Park doesn't shy away from the realities Salva faced--the murder of his uncle, soldiers forcing refugees into a crocodile-infested river, dead bodies--but neither does she linger on them or present them graphically. They are stated in spare terms with the rest left to the reader's imagination. The ending is a poignant fist-pump of accomplishment in Salva's story.