Dave Egger’s What is the What? Is truly a breathtaking yet understandable book that rewrites the hardships, pain and terror of Valentino Deng, a member of the thousands of Lost Boys who ventured over deserts and mountains, lions and crocodile’s, to eventually make his way to the United States. You simply cannot read this book without it somehow changing the way you think. Dave Eggers writes it in such a way that it provokes you to really think about the lives of many African people.
Personally I found that reading with a deadline is tough and not as enjoyable as reading it with your own pace. Moreover, having to every once in a while stop (especially during interesting parts where you just want to keep on reading), grab a sticky and write down something sometimes ruins the moment that you were in a minute ago. Having to annotate parts of the book sort of takes down the intensity that Dave Eggers might have wanted you to feel.
Despite what many people are commenting about this book, I actually quite enjoying reading it although sometimes the vivid details can be a little bit overwhelming, and hard to digress. I do not mean to be cruel or anything but I enjoyed the parts about his journey to Ethiopia, the dreams and hopes he had, and what pushed him to, unlike many of his friends, hold on and survive to eventually find himself in America. The walk sort of makes it like an adventure story instead of a biography even though some parts can be a little bit hard to swallow (e.g. when William K dies).
Back in America, I like the parts where he talks about his friends like Achor Achor and Tabitha, his girlfriend. The way that he expresses his fondness for her and talks about the satisfaction of being with her adds a lot of flavor to this book (especially when the book goes back to when he is living in America).
Overall this book has been something that I truly do enjoy reading, despite having some moments that lack the intensity that other parts of the book has. What is the What has been a book that I have liked since the beginning and hopefully will continue like that until I finish it.