What Is the What by Dave Eggers

What Is the What

538 pages; Random House
I read about Sudan every day, and I didn't understand what was going on there until this book. Dave Eggers tells the story of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, who walked across the country, the largest in Africa. And then Deng spent 13 years in refugee camps before being resettled in Atlanta. It's a powerful story of what he survived. There are lighter moments in the book: He and his roommates buy a tampon box because they think it's so pretty. And there are less-kind instances of American behavior in the book—Deng was held hostage in his home and robbed. I didn't know that church groups had sponsored these men. There's so much anti-immigration stuff going on in the States right now, it's heartening to see that people worked to reach out to others who are in need of what our country has to offer.
— Natalie Portman