When the Nile Runs Red (book review)

Last night at book club, we discussed the DiAnn Mills book, When the Nile Runs Red.  The story is set in war-torn Sudan, Africa.  The three main characters are Larson Farid, a doctor, Paul Farid, a Christian convert from Islam who works with Feed the World, and Ben, a southern Sudanese warlord fighting the Islamic forces.   The story line revolves around being in Sudan after the assassination of John Guarang (actual, historical person), who was really who the people of southern Sudan hoped would bring them peace. 

Overall initial impression:  I really enjoyed the “fact” parts.  I liked learning about the conflict, and some of the basis for it.  The Sudan/Darfur turmoil is far from front page news in America these days, but that doesn’t mean that everything is peachy over there.  As far as the novel part of the story (love triangle, etc…) I was initally frustrated because I kept feeling like there was more to the story that I just didn’t have.  I felt like this was book 2 in a series, and there was no book 1. 

At our meeting, we actually had the author call in to talk to us about the book!  At that time, I was very relieved to learn that there WAS a book 1!!!  It was just published by a different company, so When the Nile Runs Red had to be a “stand alone” (can’t refer to a previous book when published by someone else…).  Hallelujah!  Once I found that out, my distaste for the story disappeared, because now I know I can go back and find answers to the questions I had when I was reading! (and yes, I did order When the Lion Roars on Amazon.com that very evening…)

So, things I liked:  I loved the accuracy of the setting.  DiAnn Mills actually travelled to Sudan to research the setting, and the people, and the conflict.  That’s crazy to me, but I loved reading the results of the research!  As readers, our group had a difficult time understanding why Larson, the doctor who discovers she’s pregnant (don’t worry, not giving anything away here…) would want to stay in such dangerous conditions when she knows what the infant mortality rates are.  DiAnn Mills told us that after her visit, she understood the passion that people have for helping the Sudanese, and that their passion overrides the danger they are in. 

What I did not like:  the “disconnected” feeling I had when reading.  Of course, that was because I never read the first book!

Would I recommend it?  Yes, but read the first one first.

Is it on my all time favorite list?  No, but it is good.

Best part about the night?  Getting to talk to the author!  I really enjoyed listening to her tell stories of her experiences, as well as stories from people that she encountered.

How I am different as a result of reading this book:  This part is important to assess because I don’t want to be a sieve.  I want the things I do and encounter to make an impact, even if it’s not a good one, I want to be able to learn from it.  Well, I can’t say that I’m ready to give up my life and go be a missionary ministering to the people of Sudan, but I am more aware of the atrocities committed.  DiAnn told us a story about how the northern forces would throw babies up in the air, shoot them in the air, and then let them land in a fire so they could hear their brains explode.  (and this is not to say that the southern forces never committed atrocities, but this is the story I heard… all around, it’s a nasty conflict.  People doing things I could never imagine to other people)  Yeah.  That’s pretty graphic, and definitely not something that would be on the news.  It’s good to be reminded as I sit in my nice, comfortable home, living my nice, comfortable life, that I am among the elite in the world, even though I don’t always feel it.  I’m so blessed, but it’s easy to forget.  I get tied up with what really amounts to stupid stuff, when there are people literally fighting for their lives… because they are the wrong religion.  So, my eyes were opened a little more… which is always a good thing.

And, I guess that’s it.  I’ll update this later, after I’ve read book 1, to let you know if it answered all of my questions!

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