In Sudan the children must grow up quickly because life is short. Eleven-year-old Stephen is a cattle herder in his small village. He wants to become a teacher when he grows up, but education is virtually nonexistent, and his family can't even grow enough food to eat. Fourteen-year-old Wol is engaged to Stephen's older sister. He wants to marry because he plans to join the guerrilla fighters and wants to leave behind a family to remember him.
But life for both boys changes completely when they hear bombs in the village's vicinity. The soldiers are coming again to raid the village and steal the supplies that Red Cross just dropped off for the poor villagers. Stephen and Wol escape into the desert lands of Southern Sudan, separated from the rest of their family.
“Year of No Rain” is about the conditions during the late 1990's in Sudan. It uses the characters Stephen and Wol to depict the struggle for survival that thousands of Sudanese experienced daily. I found Alice Mead's story to be touching, and her characters were lifelike and believable. I would recommend “Year of No Rain” as a moving historical fiction story.