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.
This period of American history is very dear to my heart. In fact, I think the best part of my life is having lived through the Civil Rights Movement -- one of our nation's greatest moments. I listened to this story three times in a row when I got it, for the sheer joy of listening to the women's voices. The exquisite, brittle, pretentious frailty of the white women and the patient, angry, bitter, long-suffering, faithful, frightened, sorrowful no-nonsense wisdom of the black women, keepers of all the buried secrets, a great mound on the top of which the white women have constructed such precarious perches for themselves and their society. It is a beautifully constructed story, built up in layers with so many points of view speaking for themselves and essential mysteries gradually rising to the surface like the cooking of many dishes to make up a feast.
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