What is the What

What is the What Summary and Analysis of Book III, Chapters XXII-XVI

Summary of Book III, Chapter XXII

After Tabitha was murdered, Valentino was upset. He had heard of a few Sudanese men in America who had murdered their families, including a Michigan man who was upset that his wife visited her family in Georgia. On one hand, Valentino did not want to blame Tabitha. But he felt she should have known not to anger her ex-boyfriend because he was ex-SPLA.

As the number of refugees in Kakuma swelled, the UN became more careful about rations. They held headcounts constantly in order to make sure the ration cards were distributed evenly. However, some refugees started recycling, or leaving the camp and returning under a different name in order to receive an extra ration card.

The family that Valentino lives with is having a child, and they request that Valentino recycle his identity to help them with their food. He does, but he needs to get new paperwork. He finds a man that will help him, but the man eventually cons all of Valentino's possessions from him.

Summary of Book III, Chapter XXIII

Valentino becomes a part of a drama group in Kakuma. He also meets Tabitha and asks her to date him. The two fall in love, but they are unable to be physically intimate with each other because it is not tradition for an unmarried couple to be so close.

Later, Valentino finds out that both his mother and father are alive. Valentino wants to go home and see them, but he knows it is not a good idea. Sudan had recently suffered from a famine, and travelling through the country was still dangerous.

Valentino's acting group was invited to play in Nairobi, and Valentino stayed with a man named Mike. Mike treated Valentino to a week of luxury, eating fancy dinners and staying in a real home with a real bed and privacy. Valentino wanted to use this time to get close to Tabitha, but his mind was occupied on his parents. The two kiss, though, and then he becomes even more enamored with Tabitha. Yet they are sullen as they return to Kakuma to live in the camp.

Summary of Book III, Chapter XXIV

It is nearly 5:30 in the morning, and Valentino decides to call the number of the phone that was stolen. It was Michael who picked up the phone, and then the phone lost its connection. Valentino then decided to check his phone messages. The first was from a college that denied him entry; they said he did not have sufficient credits to attend. He had been turned down by seven colleges altogether, some even citing that he was too old to be on a college campus.

The second call was from a friend who lost over $10,000 gambling and needed money. Valentino called him back and recounted his story but received no sympathy. The friend promptly hung up, knowing that Valentino could not help him.

The third call is from Moses who asks Valentino to march for Darfur. He believes Darfur will bring more attention to the plight of Africa, not just Darfur.

Summary of Book III, Chapter XXV

Valentino goes to his job at the Century Club. An employee notices that his face is beaten, and he tells Valentino that the Sudanese should stop fighting so much. Valentino cleans himself up and goes to the front desk to begin his workday.

Back in Africa, news spreads that the Lost Boys might receive entry into the United States. First, though, they must write their life story in order to be considered. Valentino takes this to heart and writes a 10-page autobiography. Yet Valentino is left behind, even after Achor Achor and Tabitha leave for America. Valentino even gets an in-person interview, but it is to no avail. Valentino is suspicious that his parents being alive might not help his situation.

Valentino eventually gets into a wreck, and he is placed in the hospital. When he returns to camp, he finds out that he has been selected to obtain a visa and go to the United States. Valentino, though, still has not talked to his family. He gets ahold of his father and asks whether he should return to Marial Bai. His father emphatically says no, stating that Marial Bay is a pile of ash. Instead, he wants Valentino to go to America and become a success.

After preparing for his journey, Valentino takes the trip with many other refugees to go to America. Yet halfway through their journey, they arrive in Goal, a refugee-processing center, to learn that terrorists have attacked America. It isn't until weeks later that Valentino is able to leave Goal and finally make his way to the United States.

Summary of Chapter XVI

Valentino reflects on everything that he has been through. He has seen it all. He has suffered terribly and had difficult jobs and an even harder time assimilating into the United States. Yet it is important that he reach for better things. He is also certain that he will continue sharing his story so that everyone knows exactly what happened to him.


After Tabitha was murdered, Valentino tried not to blame her for her own death. Yet he found it impossible to see why she did not know better than to date an ex-SPLA soldier. While Valentino certainly treated Tabitha better than her ex, him blaming Tabitha for her own death is a toxic way to think about victims of domestic abuse. Tabitha did everything she could to get away from him, yet because her ex clung to the old traditions, he could not handle Tabitha being unruly.

As Valentino said, though, this was not an isolated incident. Many women were beaten back in Sudan, though very few were killed. Yet being in America was a stressor for many Sudanese men. He recounted stories of similar incidents happening, like the Sudanese man in Michigan killing his wife for visiting his family in Georgia. Because the man perceived his wife to be out of control, he believed it was his right to kill her.

Knowing that his parents were alive was certainly something that shook Valentino up. He spent the majority of his childhood thinking that he was an orphan, yet his family remained intact in Marial Bai. It is no wonder that he was torn about leaving them to go to the United States. In a sense, he wanted his family back; he wanted to live a happy and carefree childhood with his family. Yet as his father stated, Marial Bai was in ruins, and Valentino would only find happiness and success in America.

This mindset was widespread for many Sudanese refugees. Like Valentino, they were not disillusioned when jumping from one camp to another. Yet America represented actual hope to get their lives together. Yet from Valentino's experiences in the United States, life was as difficult as it was back in Africa. He was seen as a spectacle, something for Americans to gawk at after they found out about his struggles. He was robbed and the dismissed by law enforcement.

Even trying to further his education was difficult; seven colleges denied his application. One college even stressed that he was too old; because college was a place for young teenagers, it would have been bad for publicity to have a man close to his thirties living in the dorms with young adults.