What is the What ~ Dave Eggers

What is the What, Dave Eggers (F, 20s, blue ear buds & zebra tote ...

Date Completed: 2/6/2017

Rating: 9/10

What is the What is a true-life story about Valentino, a young Sudanese-American man, and follows the journey and experience of many of the Lost Boys. Valentino is a 30-something living in Atlanta, taking readers on a tour through what his life currently is. Meanwhile, he shares his story with everyone he sees, narrating throughout the novel. His words flow as he remembers his tragic past, wrought with the strength of his endurance and the sadness of all the people he knew who were injured or died.

During the Sudanese civil war, where did all the orphans go? Achak, a.k.a. Valentino, a.k.a. Dominic is one such orphan. He journeys through Sudan to Ethiopia only to be threatened and turned away. He walks, with a Red Army of Lost Boys, to Kenya where they erect a city of refugees called Kakuma.

I needed this story. I hadn’t heard anything about the Lost Boys, and I knew of Darfur, but nothing more about the tragedy of the Sudanese civil war. I need historical novels like this, historical novels that paint such vivid pictures of such a difficult life. I need historical novels that prove that people can make it through the worst of times with courage, perseverance, and optimism, three qualities that kept Valentino moving when I cannot even imagine continuing on. I need historical novels that, at the same time as they educate, prove that people are resilient, and although all of the situations in this novel are beyond the fathomable course of my life, that survival is possible.

I need stories like this that are told in ways that force me to recognize the impact of history on people and cement the trials that people in this world have experienced.

“I will tell stories to people who will listen and to people who don’t want to listen, to people who seek me out and to those who run.”

I’m not sure how I feel about Dave Egger’s writing style. While I very much needed to read this book, I have not come to a conclusion about Egger’s role in this story. I am intrigued enough to want to read another of his works, but I also felt like this story was so dense and I had to put it down for so many months which may be due to Egger’s writing.

Dave Eggers is doing his best to make an impact with folks living in the US. He’s the author of 10 books and founder of McSweeney’s. He is co-founder of several non-profits and works with other non-profits to donate the proceeds of some of the books.

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