Lost Girl Found
by Bassoff, Leah; Deluca, Laura

When war comes to her village in southern Sudan, Poni is forced to flee, and join thousands of refugees travelling on foot and experiencing great hardship on their way to a refugee camp.

Leah Bassoff is a writer and teacher and a former assistant editor at Penguin. She lives in Denver. Laura DeLuca is an anthropology professor and has done extensive fieldwork in East Africa. She lives in Boulder, CO.

Zenitra Lujana Paul Poni's South Sudanese village of Chukudum is in the warpath of the Red Army boy soldiers. The only alternative to certain violent death is walking, or in Poni's case, running, to safety. Bassoff and DeLuca portray Poni as a strong-willed girl of the Didinga tribe, who loves to learn and has a vision of herself beyond her circumstances. The harsh environment and tragic events are focal in the telling of her travails on the road to the Kakuma refugee camp, where she is paired with a strict foster mother and, finally, with stern Sister Hannah in Nairobi. Groundwood Books plays a significant role in exposing American youth to global realities through many of its titles, such as those by Deborah Ellis, who draws from her work with women in Afghanistan and in refugee camps. With this offering, Bassoff and anthropologist DeLuca contribute a title that provides a welcome female perspective to the shelf of enlightening books chronicling the Lost Boys of Sudan. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Much ink has been worthily spent calling attention to the harrowing experiences of the Lost Boys of Sudan. So what of the girls? Addressing a severe imbalance in the amount of attention paid to girls and women victimized in Sudan's long civil war, the co-authors (one of whom has worked in East Africa) offer a fictional memoir. It wrests a fictional Didinga child from her settled life amid family and close neighbors and sends her on a long, heartbreaking trek to a huge refugee camp in Kenya. Relating her tale in present tense in a distinct, spirited voice ("That is one thing about me. I don't get scared"), Poni goes on to describe her narrow escape from that camp and a forced marriage in the wake of a United Nations worker's failure to honor a promise of help. She recounts her later stay in a small women's shelter in Nairobi and, at last, the strenuous process of qualifying for a refugee program in far-off America. Though Poni learns to distance herself emotionally from the atrocities she witnesses, reminders of home force her to make agonizing choices along the way. Readers will come away with clear pictures of gender roles in Poni's culture as well as the South Sudan conflict's devastating physical and psychological effects. Two afterwords and a substantial bibliography (largely on the Lost Boys, perforce) will serve those who want to know more. Moving and necessary. (timeline, glossary, maps) (Fiction. 12-14) Copyright Kirkus 2014 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Then, without warning, I am awake. I run out of the hut with my hands over my head as if they can somehow shield me from whatever it is falling down upon me. When I look up, the first thing I notice is the moon, fat as a cow's belly, but what I see next are the planes and the bombs that are falling out of them. So many bombs. It is as though they are coming from everywhere at once, as though the sky is raining down black eggs.


The UN woman is coming to save me. Any day. Any hour.
I want this to be true. My eyes are always craning, waiting to spot the UN woman wandering through the camps. I look everywhere for pale skin and yellowy hair. My legs jiggle and itch with readiness. At night I hardly sleep. I promised the UN woman I would be ready to leave. And who knows? Perhaps she will fetch me during the night.
I picture the UN woman appearing and softly motioning for me to follow her. The two of us would glide out of camp together. She would usher me into an air-conditioned car and take me to the nun. I would thank her profusely, of course, shake her hand or maybe embrace her, if this is what white people prefer.
I wait and watch for her. I do this for a whole week.
Finally, I accept the truth.
She isn't coming.

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