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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What's On Second

Perhaps I was not very globally aware during middle school, but I did not know much about the Second Sudanese Civil War.  I had heard of the Lost Boys of Sudan, but knew nothing more than the fact that they were orhphaned boys in Africa escaping some sort of turmoil.  "What Is The What", Valentino Achak Deng's story of survival taught me about the conflict itself and provided deeply personal insight to how it affected these Lost Boys. 

I am always captivated by a story that sheds light on a history with which I was not previously familiar; and when the history is as remarkable as this, it is difficult to put the book down.  It is hard to believe such events took place in the very recent past.  Deng has lived through more terror than most can imagine and still emerged with the desire to help others.

How do I feel about a "memoir" being penned by someone other than the person whom the story is about?  I don't mind.  Deng worked hand in hand with Dave Eggers and gives his full blessing - can't really argue with that one.  I also can't complain about Eggers' writing style.  He may have typed the words, but Deng's voice shines through, particularly during the transitions between the past and present day when Deng addresses a tertiary character.  It is a reminder that this is not a faceless story, it is his life - and an incredible one at that.

Overall Rating: 8 out of 10


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