In this propulsive memoir from Achut Deng and Keely Hutton, inspired by a harrowing New York Times article, Don't Look Back tells a powerful story showing both the ugliness and the beauty of humanity, and the power of not giving up.
I want life.
After a deadly attack in South Sudan left six-year-old Achut Deng without a family, she lived in refugee camps for ten years, until a refugee relocation program gave her the opportunity to move to the United States. When asked why she should be given a chance to leave the camp, Achut simply told the interviewer: I want life.
But the chance at starting a new life in a new country came with a different set of challenges. Some of them equally deadly. Taught by the strong women in her life not to look back, Achut kept moving forward, overcoming one obstacle after another, facing each day with hope and faith in her future. Yet, just as Achut began to think of the US as her home, a tie to her old life resurfaced, and for the first time, she had no choice but to remember her past.
About the Author
Achut Deng was born in South Sudan and came to America as a refugee when she was sixteen years old, a story she recounts in her memoir, Don't Look Back. She is now an American citizen and works in human resources at a meat-packing plant in South Dakota, where she also resides. She is the mother of three sons.
Keely Hutton is a children’s book author and former English teacher. She worked closely with Ricky Richard Anywar to tell his story in her debut novel, Soldier Boy, which Booklist named one of the top ten first novels of the year and one of the top ten historical novels for youth the following year. Her second novel, Secret Soldiers, was a Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year and a Children’s Book Council Notable Social Studies Book for Young People. She is also the co-author of Achut Deng’s coming-of-age memoir Don’t Look Back, which recounts Deng’s journey from South Sudan to America. Keely lives in Rochester, New York, with her husband, two sons, and adorable dog, Maximus.
YALSA Teens' Top Ten 2023
2023 ILA Young Adult Nonfiction Honor Book
2023 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People
2023 Crystal Kite Award Winner
"Southern Sudanese Deng’s remarkable life story is one of loss and survival . . . The combined experience and talents of Hutton and Deng result in crisp, clear writing that is eminently readable. Deng’s voice rings authentically through the telling, her resilient spirit eclipsing the grueling trials she was forced to endure. Though Deng’s grandmother once told her to never look back, readers will thank Deng for disobeying her and sharing her moving, powerful story." —Booklist, starred review
"This is a gripping account of an extraordinary journey. A powerful read for this time of unprecedented refugee movement across the globe." —Kirkus Reviews