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Mead, Alice. Year of no rain.

Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. 130p. map. c2003. 0-374-37288-8. $16.00.

Mead has written other novels for young YAs about children in desperate circumstances--Girl of Kosovo, another novel by her now in paperback, is reviewed in this issue.

Here we follow a crisis in the lives of young boys in southern Sudan. Their country is in a civil war, boys are in danger of being kidnapped to serve in the army, girls are sold into slavery if captured, and drought has ruined their crops. After the UN drops rice, beans, and other supplies from a plane for their village, they are attacked by soldiers intent on stealing the food and taking their livestock. Stephen's mother had urged the boys to flee into the nearby forest; when they return after the soldiers leave they find their huts burned, their families killed, all the food stolen. The rest of the brief story tells of the boys' trek to find food, perhaps a refugee camp, but the distances are long, and malaria and starvation sap their strength--they constantly have to reconsider their plans and this makes them bicker and feel more confused.

Mead is a vivid storyteller. Presumably she has the facts correct about village life in the Sudan and the horrors of the civil war there. In a short period of time young YA readers are able to understand something of the struggle of these Sudanese boys. Because of the publicity about slavery in the Sudan, young people throughout the world already know something about this terrible conflict. This is good supplementary material for geography classes in addition to being a good survival story.
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Author:Rosser, Claire
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2003
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