Debut author Tiir presents a heart-rending account of her family’s flight from war in Sudan to a new life in the United States.
Tiir’s pleasant childhood segued into a period of turmoil and danger as Sudan became engulfed in civil war. Her family decided to leave their village to try to find safety elsewhere. Life became a series of moves from refugee camp to refugee camp in Ethiopia, Kenya and back to Sudan, often just steps ahead of marauding government soldiers and rebels. During this journey, Tiir’s husband, brother and daughter died, but in the struggle to keep herself and her growing family alive, she had no time to grieve. She was often blessed to find a relative, stranger or some lucky break that allowed her to carry on while her faith was tried and tested, calcifying in the extreme hardship. They went without food for so long, her youngest children forgot how cake tasted; they went without water for so long, her children’s tongues swelled to the point that water couldn’t trickle down their throats. These dire, subhuman circumstances continued until Tiir was able to fill out paperwork that allowed her family to start a journey toward immigration to the U.S. Gaps in her story—particularly after the family arrives in the U.S.—sometimes make it hard to follow. Filling in those empty spaces would create a more complete, compelling portrait of their journey. Elsewhere, Dinka tribal customs need to be explained in greater detail to help readers understand why Tiir was constantly shifting her children to other people and, likewise, why other people were passing children to her for care. Tiir’s memoir ends on an optimistic note: She found a church and a career and, in Nebraska, is surrounded by generous people. Someday she’d like to return to Sudan, which one hopes has a better future ahead, too.
A heartbreaking yet triumphant story of faith, family and survival.