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For Poni, life in her small village in southern Sudan is simple and complicated at the same time. But then the war comes and there is only one thing for Poni to do. Run. Run for her life. Driven by the sheer will to survive and the hope that she can somehow make it to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, Poni sets out on a long, dusty trek across the east African countryside with thousands of refugees. In Kakuma she is almost overwhelmed by the misery that surrounds her. Poni realizes that she must leave the camp at any cost. Her destination is a compound in Nairobi. There, if she is lucky, she can continue her education and even one day convince authorities that she is worthy to go to the land of opportunity called America. Even more than the dramatic events of the story, it is Poni’s frank and single-minded personality that carries this novel. In a heartbreaking final twist, she finds her mother just as she is about to leave for the U.S., and must make the hardest decision of all.
Leah Bassoff is a writer and teacher and a former assistant editor at Penguin. She has written for Denver Voice and The Coloradoan. She lives in Denver, CO. Laura DeLuca is an anthropology professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She has done extensive fieldwork in East Africa and has written articles on her experiences with Sudanese refugees in Anthropology News, Anthropology Matters and Journal of Refugee Studies. She lives in Boulder, CO. Bassoff and DeLuca met at a conference about Sudanese affairs and were compelled to combine their talents and expertise to work together and give voice to this previously untold story.