Author Keely Hutton celebrated the release of her and Achut Deng’s new book, “Don’t Look Back: A Memoir of War, Survival, and my Journey from Sudan to America”, by presenting to high school and middle school students on Tuesday, October 11.
The novel tells Deng’s story of being uprooted from her home during civil war and living in a refugee camp from age six to 16. She then had the opportunity to relocate to the United States, where she faced additional obstacles. Through it all, Deng remembered what she stated when asked why she should be allowed to leave the refugee camp: I want life. Throughout her remarkable life, Deng continued to push through hardship while always remembering who she is.
“I think it was really moving,” said senior Chaynia Powell. “What really made me sad is that you only get one chance to get to America, and a lot of [the refugees] had to stay behind. [Deng] talked about the guilt she had…that would make me feel guilty, too.”
Hutton spoke with numerous English classes about the book as well as the writing process as an author. She then met with students after school, including the middle school multicultural club and the high school diversity club, to further discuss Deng’s story and what can be learned from her life. Students and staff asked questions and shared their own experiences during the open forum.
“I loved it because even other people got to tell their stories,” added Powell, who attended both sessions. “It was a good way to connect with people.”
Julie Barry, owner of Author’s Note bookstore in Medina, organized the event. Hutton spoke to numerous school districts and at the bookstore, bringing Deng’s remarkable story to Orleans County.