What Is the What What Is the What discussion


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Did this book make you cry?

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message 1: by Cia (last edited Aug 25, 2016 02:06PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cia I was BAWLING when the Japanese friend story came up.


Justin Sheppard I welled up at that point too. I had to take a few extended breaks while reading the book just because the sheer tragedy of it all was too much to take in.


Mary I thought this book was incredibly inspiring. Who keeps going after all of that?


Jill Strange - me too. I was dry-eyed through everything, until the bus rolled. Cried like a baby. The sheer Murphy's-Law-ness of it, maybe?


Terry This was the point for me as well. I think, however, it was building through the entire book and only came out here. Also, when his parents came to visit Achek.


Brett it took me forever to read the final two pages. i have never sobbed at a book before, but i couldn't stop.


message 7: by Susan (last edited Jan 30, 2008 07:47PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Susan I "cried" only because of the opportunity missed to write a truly moving work on this subject. I just don't get what the rest of you are talking about.


Ruben Like many of you, it was only in the last pages that I was moved to tears. For me it was mostly when he heard his name was posted on the list of those being sent to America, and he starts running, then turns around and sees a mob of kids chasing him, and he turns back and continues, so afraid to hope his dream is coming true.


Carol Absolutely I cried. The power of this work is its ability to make the reader feel. No small feat given our sensory overloads and the constant stream of small and large tragedies tugging at our sleeves every day.


message 10: by Lynn (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lynn Duffy I misted a few times


Harvey your heart must be wrapped in steel Susan. Please tell us exactly how the book could have been written to make it truly moving



Thomas Just like everyone else, I think that my life can suck or is hard or just doesn't go my way at times, but then I get a much needed kick in the head when I read a crazy book like this and think "dang, I have it so good!" I didn't cry because I only cry during movies. jk.


Maggi If you don't cry you have lost your ability to feel. But it is ultimately a story of triumph and unbelievable indomitable will. Interesting to me was the fact that although he says God turned his face from him, he never seems to lose his faith entirely. Hard to imagine.


Susan You might want to read Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own to discover the literary weaknesses of books written with an agenda, regardless of the worthiness of the cause. I am deeply moved by the plight of the victims of this horrible war; I wasn't moved by the narrative depiction of their suffering in this novel. The book was written for mass appeal to raise awareness, not necessarily to earn literary merit. Judging by the comments in this forum, the novel was successful in that regard.


message 15: by Anne (last edited May 27, 2008 07:49PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne Despite that I am typically a "crier", my crying did not come until Valentino thought he figured out what the "what" was. Then, I couldn't stop crying, (although the Japanese friend story was pretty moving too.) I visited an impoverished part of Africa (although no violent areas) last year and was amazed at how the people could maintain their faith under such trying conditions. I would not dwell too much on any "agenda" this book may have. If anything, I think this book underestimates the "faith" that such impoverished people can maintain. I certainly learned a lot from them.


Mcav0y I cried at similar points (japanese story, running from the bus to the board). I was puzzled over why those moments brought me to tears, but other, just as emotional points in his life did not make me cry.


Kellie I cried near the end. When the family came from Japan and wanted to meet Achak. When he ran to the boards. When he kept saying, "You would not do this to me if you knew..." So many other times. Amazing.


Carol I am curious about this question and think the reason many of us didn't cry until the end is because it was so beyond the realm of our experience.
Of course, I cried, like a baby, especially when the family from Japan came to meet Valentino, and pretty much for the rest of the book.



Sergei I wanted to cry, because the time that I wasted reading this tragedy porn for (and by) do-gooder Westerners will never, ever be returned to me. If you want to be bummed out, just read the news and spare yourself hundreds of pages of Eggers' wretched prose, which seems to have been subjected to a Sudanese-style carpet bombing by an Antonov that was carrying half-assed characterizations and cliches instead of bombs.


Maggi What a strangely heartless comment. Feeling superior must provide you with lots of warm fuzzies.


message 21: by Anne (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne That is an interesting thought... why didn't many of us cry until the end? I've read similar books about wars and violence beyond my realm of experience and cried a lot. I wonder if it was because Valentino was telling a story that happened in his past and we knew he would survive? Perhaps we cried about his Japanese friend, because that came as a surprise? I don't really know, but... yes... it is an interesting question.


Sergei That's a good point, Maggi. How "strangely heartless" of me to point out that Dave Eggers, a rich and famous American novelist, is a shitty and exploitative writer. I'm frankly unsure how I will sleep tonight.


Justin Sheppard No offense Sergei, but I think you're way off base in your assessment. While I'll concede that Eggers is a famous American novelist, I don't know that I'd consider him "rich." While I'm not privy to the particulars, the fact that he publishes his novels through his own McSweeney's imprint suggests he's not racking in seven figure advances.

If you consider him a shitty writer, that's fine, I'm not going to argue matters of taste with you, because there is no right answer. However, I don't see how you could possibly consider Eggers exploitative if you're aware of the facts surrounding the novel.

Valentino Achak Deng, who's life the book is based on, approached Eggers about collaborating on the book, not the other way around. Furthermore, Eggers did not make a dime on the book, as all proceeds from the novel are going to The Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, which is set up to help Sudanese refugees in America, rebuild villages in southern Sudan and pay for Deng's college education.


message 24: by Anne (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne Sorry, Sergei... I've got to side with Maggi on this one. That was heartless even if your assumptions about Dave Eggers are true. He was helping Valentino write his story. I have not been to a country experiencing war, but I took a trip to a peaceful African nation... Zambia, Africa. I did not visit as a tourist, but as a volunteer on a trip to help some children orphaned by the AIDS pandemic (2 weeks). I visited several impoverished compounds and saw people living on dirt floors, struggling to find a fistful of cornmeal for each family member to eat each day.... sometimes only eating one or two meals (a meal being a fistful of corn meal) each week. And yet, these people were thankful for everything they had and prayed for the people in war torn countries like the Sudan. So, although a war-torn country is still beyond my realm of experience, I can imagine situations described in the book. No one says you have to like the book... so why even get involved in a book discussion on it?


message 25: by Jess (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jess I didn't cry, but it was, at points, it was exhausting to read. I agree that it beyond what most of us can ever imagine. When his Japanese co-worker died, if it were an actual novel, I would have thought the author was just trying for an over dramatic tear jerker. Knowing that it actually happened just makes you wonder what else could Valentino endure? This is a book that makes you want to become more aware of what's happening in the world (and I am certainly not the most aware....)


Julia And so your comment ISN'T full of cliches and Westerner stereotypes??? Get off your high horse.

Actually, I found Valentino's story about life in the United States more eye-opening than walking across Sudan...


message 27: by Ms. Gee (new) - added it

Ms. Gee I just finished this book last night on the train. So powerful! This book has left me in a great deal of thought. The author really made the story of so many Lost Boys and the ciivil rights issues in Sudan come to life.

Wonderful book and yes...I'm one of those people who cried all the way though


Cihan Although it didn't make me cry, it is only the third book ever to hit me in the gut and make me stop reading for a short while. (the other two books are Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, and Wild Swans by Jung Chang)

But yeah, I did get a fly in my eye at moments reading this book, what Valentino went through is just beyond words. Well, technically it isn't beyond words obviously, but you know what I mean!


Katherine Beniger I cried when His father said "Yes, the what" out of the blue over the radio. And when Noriyaki died :(


Jamie Archer The tears for me finally came when Noriyaki's family came, and unfortunately I was in the break room at work.


message 31: by Emma (new) - rated it 5 stars

Emma Yes. The last few pages really got to me...


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