Take two 11 year old children.
Remove them from each other in time and space.
Weave a narrative that pulls them together.
Show us truth.
Wake us up to our own privileged lives.
Leave us inspired.
Linda Sue Parks does all this in A Long Walk to Water.
Salva: forced to flee for his life from his war torn village. He became a lost boy traveling across the dessert to a refuge camp in Kenya. Seven years later he ended up in America where he was adopted into a loving family.
Parks articulates the difference between these two worlds here:
"In the camp, he had worn an old pair of shorts and an even older T-shirt. He had taken as good care of them as he could, but there were holes in the shirt and the waistband of the shorts was stretched and threadbare. The camp workers handed out clothing whenever donations came in, but there were never enough clothes for those who needed them.
Now Salva's arms were piled high with new clothes. Underwear, socks, sneakers. A pair of long pants. A T-shirt and a long sleeved shirt to wear on top of it. And he was to wear all these clothes at the same time!"
After being told by the aid worker that he would receive more clothes in New York, Salvo's response was, "More clothes?.. How can I possibly wear more clothes?" (p 91-92)
Nya: she walks eight hours every day - two trips to water and back so her family can survive. It is dangerous work. The water is contaminated. Then strangers come to the village and begin even stranger activities.
I can't tell you more without spoiling the story. It is very satisfying. I will without a doubt get a set for lit circles at the school. I can't wait to hear what kids have to say about it.