Wednesday, October 07, 2015
[Memphis Reads 2015] Fresh Reads Top Ten Winner Sarah Frazier
What is the What
What is the What, by Dave Eggers, was a memorable book that makes you wake up and see what other people are going through in the world. Valentino is just one man who told his story, and there are thousands who have stories like his. In the book alone, Tabitha, Dut, Achor Achor, Moses, Maria, the Royal Girls, Dominic, Samuel, Amath, and others didn’t have their stories told. In the book, Valentino refers back to a made-up story, called “What is the What,” that his father told him and he compares the story to events that happened in his life.
In the story told by his father, God gave his people an abundance of cows, lands, food, women--everything that a person would want-or people could have the “what.” No one knew, or still knows, what the What is. Valentino, for years and years, wanted to go the United States and go to college. He thought he would be happy there with no worries or problems. He had a tragic life that would make the reader tear up. He finally had the chance to come to America. Throughout the book, Valentino talks about how he isn’t happy in America. But hearing him talk about all the events in Sudan, Kenya, and Ethiopia, it seems that no one would ever want to go back to that. Surprisingly, in the last chapter, he says he wants to go back to Sudan and be with his family. He had everything he ever wanted in America: an education, freedom, clothes, food, money, a job, a car, an apartment, friends, no worries of being attacked by the government, and somewhat more safety-except with the incident at his home with the lady, man, and Michael. It’s overwhelming all the things people have in America compared to the rest of the world. If a person owns a car and a house, they are richer than 80% of the world. Valentino had all these things and was willing to give it up. He didn’t know what to expect over in Sudan. If he went back, he would probably have the same amount of things he had had as a kid. Also, he could be attacked by the government at any time. God gave Valentino the chance to go to the United States and start a new life, but he wanted the What, going back to Sudan and to his family.
I was born and raised in Jordan, between Israel and Iraq, for 14 years. I loved it and had a childhood that I would never trade for another. I lived in the desert and had friends from all over the world: Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, England, Norway, Canada, South Korea, the Philippines, Bolivia, Brazil, Jordan, Africa, and a couple from America. When I was 14 years old, my parents told that we were moving to America. I was terrified; I didn’t know what to expect, except the things I saw from movies. I was happy and loved my life in Jordan, and I had to trade it. For what? I wouldn’t know anybody and the culture would be completely opposite; it was like moving to another planet. I liked what God gave me and had the amazing experience of living in the Middle East; and I had to trade it all. It was hard at first, I’ll admit, trying to understand American culture and making new friends. However, now I’m thankful that I moved here. I love America and wouldn’t want to trade this experience for anything. I like how I got to experience two different worlds.
Valentino’s story was a hard one to read. The events that happened in his life are something that no one should go through. However, it was an eye-opener and I pray that I never complain about little, stupid things again. Valentino has a life story that everyone should have opportunity to read.
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