This is an engaging, powerful book, deftly written and superbly narrated. Eggers' book, though "fiction," is a lesson in history, suffering and the resilience of the human spirit. I recommend this book without reservation.
The narrator's voice was so warm and his diction so natural that it was the perfect vehicle for the deep humanity expressed in this slightly fictionalized true portrayal of the almost unbelievable challenge to which The Lost Boys of Sudan rose -- children with the courage, stamina and independence of the strongest and bravest men facing the terrors and ravages of war -- told through the voice of one very sympathetic character. The way they emerged from these years of trial and horror with their hearts unscarred, loving one another, hungry for knowledge and full of faith in the future is a reminder of the nobility that inheres in the human soul, a nobility that jaded, modern industrialized nations can only look on in dumb grief at what we have traded in for television sets and debit cards. The paucity of our culture is only too painfully revealed in the details of what the protagonist found in his life once he reached the promised land of America -- anything but balm from Gilead. This is, in my opinion, far and away Dave Eggers' best work, and I am deeply grateful for the way he made this human experience, so vastly different from mine, so intimately, viscerally available to me. I will listen to it again and again and never fail to be deepened by it.
I have (unintentionally) read two books from Oprah's Book Club list, and wasn't impressed by either. So instead of jumping on the bandwagon and reading her selection about the Lost Boys of Sudan, read "What is the What" instead!
I didn't know anything about the plight of the Lost Boys before reading this book. Not only did I learn a great deal about them and African culture in general, but it was enjoyable doing it through the eyes of the main character Valentino. The story moves between the present and flashbacks, which made it even more interesting because the author could present Valentino the child's emotions and opinions about the event along with Valentino the adult's without strain. I was overwhelmed by the hardship one boy can endure and overcome. While this book is a fictionalized biography, I assume most of the larger events are true, which made it an even more gripping read. The narrator was also fantastic, and I was truly disappointed when it ended.
The only thing I disliked about this book, however, was the ending. Whether I wanted more finality or something more uplifting, I'm not sure. I just know I wasn't satisfied with the ending. But I'm still giving it 5 stars because it was interesting, engaging, thought-provoking, heartwrenching - everything a great book should be.
I think this book is one of those books that everyone should read. Sometimes we forget that in our spoiled American lives there is another reality out there. This book was well written. I also really enjoyed the narration-great voice and personality!
I really enjoyed listening to this book about a Sudanese refugee who experienced the Sudanese civil wars, where the author provides a horrific account of the brutal tragedies. This is a semi biographical story, but it reads as though every part of it is real. The main character, Valentino Achak Deng, at age 8, is exiled from his village in southern Sudan and eventually joins thousands of other Lost Boys who were also exiled from their villages. They walk forever in their quest to reach a place that would be permanent. It is the first time that I have read an accurate account of what a refugee camp is like. I read about one in "Infidel" but it was for only a period of a couple days. Valentino was in the temporary Ethiopian refugee camp for 10 years, after which he does end up in Atlanta, Georgia and that is another story. If you listen to this book by audio, you will not be disappointed. It is excellent.
Not only is Eggers' book an engaging piece of fiction/nonfiction, the incredibly skillful reader does it justice with every word and change of voice.
Both the author and the narrator create an excellent and authentic picture of the southern Sudan and its tragic undoing. I lived in Juba during part of the period covered, and I read (listened to) the book to fill in and explain historical events. I was not disappointed. The tale is riveting and devastating and filled with pathos. It is beautifully read and recalls the voice of so many southern Sudanese friends.
I wasn't sure this book could add much to "A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier" by Ismael Beah, but it does. Both books are extraordinaryl and left me shaken and yet joyous in the respect I felt for the Sudanese and the people from Sierra Leone (as represented by these authors). Beah's book takes place over a shorter time period. Egger's book traces the boy's life fleeing the soldiers, surviving, the long trek to Ethiopi, and 10 years in a refugee camp. It also covers some painful years inthe US. The book begins when he's 6 or 7; near the end, he is close to 30. The suffering of the Sudanese, the people from Sierra Leone, and people in in many parts of Africa is part of our history as well. The books make their situation much more mutli-dimensional than the photos and news reports from the area I've seen. I reccommend everyone read both of these books for the information and for the range of feelings they evoke. They are great literature and truth.
Since taking my first creative writing class in 2008 the pleasure I used to get from reading has been greatly reduced. I notice things I never noticed before. That said, I think I rate books pretty generously. Anyone who actually manages to write a whole book and then get it published deserves an extra star.
Excellent and deserving story of a "Lost Boy" of Sudan. Dave Eggers does a skillful job of framing Valentino/Achak's story and inserts just the right amounts of foreshadowing, tension vs.relief, and humor. The only thing I take exception with is that he calls it "a novel". Eggers' explanation of why he does this makes sense, but for a story that is so clearly biographical, where the political and physical settings are real, I think there are other, better, ways of saying this story is based on one person's memories - and memories aren't always the most reliable of sources. In this case, it doesn't make the story any less true.
Loved this book. The story was so engaging and seamless in how it went back and forth with present day and past to add layers to the character. Because of our work in a third word country with a marginalized people group, we often see the local problems as well as the well-meaning efforts of peple back home who want to get involved and help, This story very realistically captured all that and more. Highly recommend not only for excellent entertainment but for an eye-opening lesson in other cultures and the unique problems they face.