A Long Walk to Water - Summary

Linda Sue Park

A Long Walk to Water Book Cover


“A Long Walk to Water” is a captivating novel written by Linda Sue Park. This book tells the inspiring true story of two individuals, Salva and Nya, who are separated by time and distance but connected by the common struggle for survival in war-torn Sudan. Through their journeys, Park sheds light on the devastating effects of the Sudanese civil war and the resilience of the human spirit. In this book summary, we will explore the key themes, characters, and events that make “A Long Walk to Water” a powerful and thought-provoking read.

Salva’s Story: A Journey of Survival

The first part of the book focuses on Salva, a young boy who is forced to flee his village when it is attacked by rebel soldiers. Salva’s journey to safety is perilous, as he must navigate treacherous landscapes, endure hunger and thirst, and face the constant threat of violence. Park vividly describes the harsh realities of Salva’s journey, using examples and anecdotes that evoke a sense of empathy in the reader.

One such example is when Salva joins a group of thousands of other displaced individuals, known as the “Lost Boys,” who are also seeking refuge. This group provides Salva with a sense of community and support, as they share resources and look out for one another. However, the challenges they face are far from over, as they must continue to walk for miles each day in search of safety and water.

Nya’s Story: The Daily Struggle for Water

While Salva’s story unfolds in the late 1980s, Nya’s story takes place in 2008. Nya is a young girl who spends the majority of her days walking to a distant pond to collect water for her family. This daily task is not only physically demanding but also dangerous, as Nya must navigate through a landscape filled with wild animals and the constant threat of attack.

Park skillfully weaves Nya’s story into the narrative, highlighting the stark contrast between her daily struggle for water and Salva’s journey to find safety. By including Nya’s perspective, Park emphasizes the ongoing challenges faced by the people of Sudan, even years after the civil war has ended.

The Power of Hope and Resilience

Throughout “A Long Walk to Water,” Park emphasizes the power of hope and resilience in the face of adversity. Salva’s unwavering determination to survive and find his family serves as a testament to the strength of the human spirit. Despite the unimaginable hardships he endures, Salva never loses hope and continues to push forward.

Anecdotes from the book illustrate this theme of hope and resilience. For instance, when Salva is reunited with his uncle, he learns about the importance of education and the potential for a brighter future. This newfound knowledge fuels Salva’s determination to make a difference in the lives of others, leading him to establish a foundation that brings clean water to communities in need.

The Impact of War and Conflict

Another significant theme explored in “A Long Walk to Water” is the devastating impact of war and conflict on individuals and communities. Park vividly depicts the violence and destruction caused by the Sudanese civil war, leaving readers with a deep understanding of the profound consequences of such conflicts.

One example from the book is when Salva’s village is attacked, forcing him to leave behind his family and everything he knows. This traumatic event not only shapes Salva’s journey but also highlights the widespread displacement and loss experienced by countless Sudanese people during this period.

The Importance of Access to Clean Water

Clean water is a crucial resource that many of us take for granted. However, in “A Long Walk to Water,” Park sheds light on the scarcity of clean water in Sudan and its profound impact on the lives of individuals like Nya and her community. Through Nya’s daily struggle to collect water, readers gain a deeper appreciation for the importance of access to clean water.

Park’s use of anecdotes further emphasizes this theme. For instance, Nya’s younger sister falls ill due to drinking contaminated water, highlighting the dire consequences of not having access to clean water sources. This serves as a powerful reminder of the global water crisis and the urgent need for solutions.


In conclusion, “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park is a compelling novel that intertwines the true stories of Salva and Nya, two individuals whose lives are shaped by the Sudanese civil war and the struggle for survival. Through vivid descriptions, examples, and anecdotes, Park brings to life the challenges faced by Salva and Nya, while also highlighting the themes of hope, resilience, the impact of war, and the importance of access to clean water. This book serves as a powerful reminder of the strength of the human spirit and the need for compassion and action in the face of adversity.

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