What is the What

What is the What Summary

Book I, Chapter I

Valentino, a Sudanese refugee living in Atlanta, opens the door to a woman who ends up robbing him. Powder keeps Valentino helpless on the floor while Tonya rummages through Valentino's belongings.

Book I, Chapter II

Valentino and Tonya grab a number of items and leave, but not after insulting him and calling him names like "Africa" and "Nigeria." They leave and close the door behind them, and Valentino gets off the floor to assess the damage. Powder and Tonya come back inside, and Powder punches Valentino so hard that Valentino thinks he is going to die.

Book I, Chapter III

Valentino wakes up to find that he is bound and gagged on the floor. A young boy is watching television in his kitchen.

Valentino begins to think back to his experiences in Africa when he was a Lost Boy of Sudan trying to make his way to Ethiopia and the Kenya to escape the Sudanese civil war.

Book I, Chapter IV

Valentino recounts his perfect day in an attempt to keep his mind off his current situation. He thinks back to being in his hometown of Marial Bai with his friends and his crush.

Book I, Chapter V

Valentino is able to get the gag off his mouth, and he calls out to the boy. The boy tries to ignore Valentino, but Valentino persists. The boy eventually drops a phone book on Valentino's head to get him to stop talking.

Book I, Chapter VI

After the boy receives a phone call, Valentino finds out his name is Michael. This makes Valentino think back to Marial Bai when the war first started breaking out. He recounts the differences between the Muslim Arabs and the Dinka, the two main factions of the war.

Book I, Chapter VII

When Valentino was helping his mother in Marial Bai, planes flew overhead and started shooting people on sight. He and his family dodged the attacks, but the government came the next day and started burning the village down.

Book I, Chapter VIII

Valentino's father Deng Arou decided it was best to take half his family and moved to a nearby village to try and be safer. Yet after being interrogated by the government soldiers, Valentino's family moves back to Marial Bai. Their house has been mostly burned down, though.

Book I, Chapter IX

A week after moving back, the Arab militia rides through on their horses and starts killing everyone in their way. Valentino is cut off from his family, and he begins to run as far as he can.

Book I, Chapter X

Valentino is still bound and gagged on his floor, and Michael gets bored and starts rummaging through the home. Valentino knows Michael has found pictures of Tabitha, the love of his life.

Valentino's mind returns to when he joined the Lost Boys march with Dut Majok as the leader. They went from village to village asking for help and safety.

Book I, Chapter XI

Tonya returns to Valentino's home and is able to get the rest of Valentino's belongings into a mini van. Valentino tries to bang his bound feet against the wall, but no neighbors hear him.

Book I, Chapter XII

With nearly 250 boys in the group, the Lost Boys keep trying to find their way to Ethiopia. They come across burned villages and eventually a group of soldiers who offer to give them meat from an elephant they killed. Many of the boys are so hungry that they eat the meat raw.

Book I, Chapter XIII

Valentino is still unable to get anyone to notice him in his apartment. He thinks back to when he met Mary, the organizer of the Lost Boys Foundation in Atlanta. She was able to get Valentino connections that allowed him to find an apartment and a job.

Book I, Chapter XIV

After reaching the desert, Valentino gets separated from the group and trips on barbed wire. A man comes to his rescue and bandages his leg up. The man is hiding in a secret home in order to avoid the war.

When the group reaches Ethiopia, they are disappointed because it looks exactly the same as their war-torn country.

Book II, Chapter XV

Valentino's long-time friend and roommate Achor Achor finally returns from his girlfriend's home. He suggests that Valentino call the police. A female cop comes to the apartment but is disinterested in what happened to Valentino. Instead, she wants to hear more about their experiences in Africa.

Book II, Chapter XVI

Achor Achor then takes Valentino to the hospital where they are waiting over four hours. Valentino thinks about Tabitha and how she was dating an abusive Sudanese man. Tabitha and Valentino began correspondence, and she eventually left her boyfriend for Valentino.

Book II, Chapter XVII

At the Pinyudo camp in Ethiopia, they boys are constantly hungry. This is where Valentino first met Achor Achor. He also met up with another childhood friend, Moses. There is a white man in the village, and the priest says the man brings good tidings.

Book II, Chapter XVIII

When Valentino was 10, he met a group of sisters who eventually became close friends with him.

Book II, Chapter XIX

Julian, the receptionist and tech, calls Valentino back to get an MRI scan. Valentino learns that Julian is a veteran of the Iraq War. The two men bond over what they have both seen.

Book II, Chapter XX

Back in the refugee camp, many of the boys are beginning to join the SPLA to fight for Sudan. The soldiers are becoming more hostile and violent towards the refugees, though, and Valentino and his friends run away because it is not safe anymore.

Book II, Chapter XXI

After going through two more camps, Valentino makes it to Kenya. It is far away from the abusive SPLA soldiers. He then comes back to the present time and informs the readers that, recently Tabitha’s ex-boyfriend murdered her.

Book III, Chapter XXII

Once in Kenya, Valentino has to forge a second identity in order to get more ration cards for the family he is staying with. A con man dupes him, though, and he loses most of his belongings.

Book III, Chapter XXIII

Valentino meets Tabitha while in Kenya, and the two form a romantic relationship. He also finds out that his parents are both alive. That is all he can think about until he and Tabitha kiss for the firs time.

Book III, Chapter XXIV

Valentino finishes with the hospital around 5:30 in the morning. He checks his voicemail and discovers that he did not make it into the college he applied to, and that a friend wants him to cover over $10,000 in gambling debts. Another friend called as well and asked Valentino to march for the conflict in Darfur.

Book III, Chapter XXV

Valentino and his friends at the Kakuma refugee camp learn that America has agreed to let the Lost Boys immigrate to the United States. Yet as his friends leave one by one, Valentino is left in Kenya for years. It is not until he gets into a bad car accident that he is on the list. After a number of plan trips and even being held up by the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York City, Valentino reaches America.

Book III, Chapter XXVI

Valentino looks back on his life and affirms to make it far in the future. He also promises to never top telling his story.