What They Meant for Evil

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 Jan 2020

Member Reviews

A powerful story and a wonderfully written memoir. A moving story of courage, faith, and new beginnings.
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Thank you, NetGalley, for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review!

Many books have been written about the Lost Boys of Sudan. Finally, we have the story of one of many Lost GIRLS of Sudan!! This book is a heartwarming, fast-paced, emotional, and wonderfully written memoir. It's amazing to follow this young woman on her journey--or escape--from persecution and genocide. She shares every aspect of her story, from loss, hunger, desperation, almost losing her own life multiple times, the conditions in refugee camps, and her arrival in the United States. This is a powerful story of healing of the soul, faith, and redemption! A great book! A great young woman!
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Great book!! Hard to read of the genocide in .Sudan of which the author was a survivor, but riveting at the same time.

Rebecca  at the age of 15 is able to come to the United States as part of a United Nations refugee resettlement plan for the Lost Boys and Lost Girls of Sudan. Relocated to Michigan, her foster family helps her in every possible way to acclimate to her new country, culture and language.
Rebecca graduates from high school, college and obtains a master’s degree. She and her husband now live and work in Uganda and have three children.

Thanks to the publisher and net galley for the advance copy to review. A truly inspiring story. I’ll be adding this to our church library for sure!
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Adventure, heartache, beauty, fear, sorrow, and hope filled the pages as Rebecca Deng shared her story. I recognized  the incredible love she received from her grandmother as a gift that provided her with courage that she would desperately need in the future. For those of us living in America, Rebecca’s story must be read and shared. Her life demands a strong reaction of compassion in action of me.
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What They Meant for Evil.  What a powerful story!  Rebecca was born in South Sudan during the horrific civil wars that were going on.  We follow her journey from her idyllic life in her home village to a horrific voyage of 10 years and she and her family (that lives) try to find a safe place to live.  The refugee camps, the Humanitarian Aid workers- there is so much sadness and sorry that this one young girl goes through.  But through perseverance she becomes one of the "lost girls" that is given asylum in the United States.  I loved Rebecca's voice.  I loved how raw and honest she was about everything she went through.  And I love how even at the beginning she mentions how hard it is to tell her story, but just how important it is that she tell it to the world.  I applaud her for her perseverance and courage to not only survive, but to become a person that is affecting change in this life she leads.  I also appreciated her candor about her faith and the ups and downs she experiences while going through all her trials.  I would give it more than 5 stars if I could.

* Some intense scenes in this book.  Not for young or super sensitive/triggered readers.

Thank you NetGalley and FaithWorks for an ARC for my honest opinion.
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I finished this book and had to take a day to digest it all. War is horrible. And to hear it through the eyes of a six year old is devastating. Rebecca Deng, survivor of the Bor Massacre in Sudan. She is an amazing person who survived what most people didn't. I would love to hear her speak and meet her. 
"What They Meant for Evil" is her life story of being one the Lost Girls who lived 8 years in Kakuma Refuge Camp in northern Kenya after the Bor Massacre took out most of her tribe. Her father was a commander in the Sudan army. 
"I have learned that the greatest thing in the world is to love." 
She was raised by her grandmother after her mother perished in the war along with a newborn sister. 
"My grandmother was my music."
I recommend this book for everyone. It is a must read! 

Thank you to Publisher and NetGalley for the eARC
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Oh this book. My heart. I'm not sure I can even soak in all the words Rebecca wrote. I've cried so many tears and felt so many emotions through this book, I'm not sure it's even possible to describe the fullness of what I'm feeling after spending the entire day pouring over this book. 

This woman's story touched every soft part of my heart. It showed me the terror she lived through, and each journey she went on, but through it all, she shared how God taught her to love, to forgive and to give God the glory. 

America could take some lessons from this sweet lady. I wish I could sit down and hear her speak and be under her ministry. Her heart for God is so amazing and sweet and I will definitely be suggesting this book to my mom and friends. I will be buying it for gifting to people and buying a copy for myself once it is out on shelves. This book is AMAZING. Thank you so much for writing this.
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We hear reports on the news of massacres of innocents in various countries around the globe and stories of displaced men, women, and children who become refugees and try to survive in crowded refugee camps. Those stories are usually sound bites, quickly discarded for the next big story. Rebecca Deng, a survivor of the horrific Bor Massacre of 1991 in Sudan, gives us the perspective of a six year old girl in What They Meant for Evil. We see her confusion as she flees with family walking through the wilds. She becomes an orphan as those she loves most are killed and grows up in a refugee camp. The UN provides a small amount of maize, without seasoning, to sustain the population. The bathroom is an open area on the other side of a dry riverbed with nothing to provide privacy. I had always imagined a refugee camp as a temporary facility, but Rebecca lived in Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya for eight years before she benefited from a special program that relocated her to the U.S. and placed her with an adoptive family. Many of her Sudanese relatives remained in the camp long after that.

In the latter part of the book, we learn of Rebecca’s life as an adult and her spiritual growth as she comes to terms with her identity and the trauma of her past. She uses her education, her experiences, and her faith in God to help other refugees recover as she sees God’s plan unfold to bring good out of what others intended for evil.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Faith Words for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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Every high school student should read this book! While the content is difficult at times, Rebecca Deng’s story is one that needs to be heard in today’s global society. Raised in war-torn Sudan, Rebecca faced things in her life that no adult should be asked to endure, let alone a young child. 
What They Meant for Evil is Rebecca’s life story starting with her carefree childhood before the war reached her village, following her journey as she flees to safety and lives in a refugee camp, continuing as she travels to America attends high school and college and marries. She shares the horrors and the happy times as well as her faith in God which kept her going. 
Having grown up in Western Michigan, I was familiar with some of the places she talked about. I am also a Calvin College alumni where she attended college. 
I would not hesitate to place What They Meant for Evil in my k-12 Christian school library. Because of some of the graphic descriptions I would label it for high school only. 
I received an e-copy through NetGalley. This is my honest review.
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Oh My Gosh. Y'all, I kept thinking 'well Bless her Heart'. This girl has had a rough go. This isn't something grandma's quilt and some comfort food will fix. This is scar you for life and change you forever stuff.
What a horrible thing to live through. Hearing troops go from village to village killing and burning. Torturing and raping were nothing to the soldiers. 
My husband has an employee that was involved in 'Hotel Rwanda' as a child and she has these same memories. Genocide is an atrocity that the world can do without.
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Having read about the Lost Boys of Sudan, I was eager to read about one of the Lost Girls. Deng's story is both harrowing and inspiring. I am most inspired by how her community of faith carried her through the trauma she experienced, and I appreciated learning about what life was like on a refugee camp. I wish there was more description of how she and her foster sister from another tribe reconciled beyond her own personal realizations. I appreciated the way she described how complicated her relationship was with her family - despite often standing in her way and enforcing cult traditions that did not make sense in a refugee camp, she still loves them and recognized their love for her. Just as with the Lost Boys, it was education that got her out of the refugee camp, but it was her faith in God and the authentic Church community that sustained her. Highly recommend.
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I was given an Advanced Reader Copy of this by @netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
This was a pretty incredible story! Unlike the stories of the Lost Boys, there hasn't been as much told about the Lost Girls of Sudan! This autobiography chronicles @rivkadeng 's life: fleeing her village, spending years in a refugee camp, being able to come to America, gaining higher education, and finding meaningful work to help her people in Sudan! It's definitely hard to read at times knowing all of it is true, and so many have it even worse. It's also hard to imagine such hardship and to see such faith in the midst of it is inspiring! Really puts a lot of things in perspective being from a first world country. I would recommend this one for sure. 
Edit: It is currently available in hardback, so add it to your TBR and make sure you check it out!
#2019Reads #CurlyBookReviews #ARCReading #WhatTheyMeantForEvil #NetGalley
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This is an amazing, inspiring true story of one girl's journey of survival after South Sudan's civil war stole her family and loved ones from her and she had to escape. Her memoir, beautifully and simply written, recounts the heartbreak she endured, but also her introduction to Jesus. She shows courage, strength, and enduring faith throughout. I highly recommend this book.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for my advanced reader's copy.
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I loved this book! It’s so inspiring. The author went through so much suffering, but kept going and trusting God would bring her through and he did. I love her story and believe it will help so many people to be strong and trust God in their hurting and distress that they may be going through. I recommend this book to everyone. Beautiful book. Thank you to #NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read #WhatTheyMeantForEvil .
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I received an advance digital copy of this book. 

Thank you for an inspiring and truthful story. A good look at how circumstances man means for evil can be utilized for good.
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I appreciate Rebecca Deng being vulnerable and sharing her story with us. She is one of the "lost girls" of Sudan - children who were orphaned by the Sudanese war and were eventually brought to the US as refugees. The stories of some of the things she had to go through are horrifying and tragic. The point of her story, from her point of view, is that God had her all along, so the tone stays hopeful and fairly positive throughout. 

As far as the writing, it's fairly simplistic and the emotional tone not very deep. Deng is not a native English speaker so I'm not holding that against the book in a major way, but it did prevent me from enjoying it as much as I could.
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I’m so happy this book was written. We have heard many stories about the boys of Sudan. It is a true walk by faith book and should be read by everyone.
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*I was provided the book What They Meant for Evil by Rebecca Deng by NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

What They Meant for Evil is a personal account from a Lost Girl of Sudan. Rebecca Deng tells a heartbreaking story. Trying to escape a violent civil war Rebecca finds herself in a refugee camp that houses thousands. She lives in this camp for most of her childhood. Conditions are terrible and they are not properly cared for. But Rebecca rises above her past to make a place for herself in this world that tried to destroy her. This is a story of redemption and forgiveness. And the truth that your past does not define your future.

This book is not a guide to grieving or working through your past. It’s just the journey Rebecca had to take to get from damaged and frightened girl to confident, if still broken, woman. She tells of the things that happened to her through the lens of the girl she was when it happened. Her story is real and honest.

Important themes
After getting her master’s degree Rebecca began working with a program that helps women from war-torn countries in Africa work through their own trauma. It was going through this program herself that made her realize how badly she had been traumatized as a child. Even though it was hard to relive what had happened to her, it was vital for her to work through it.

“…I learned how to grieve, question, take my pain to the cross of Jesus, and ultimately forgive.”
-Rebecca Deng, What They Meant for Evil

Rebecca also addresses the indisputable right we have to stand up and say no to something we don’t want to do. In Dinka culture, it is very common for girls as young as 14 to be given to a man in an arranged marriage. Usually the father will arrange this but in Rebecca’s case, because she was an orphan, her uncle arranged this marriage. She was only 15 years old.

Ultimately, this is how she ended up in America. She applied for the Lost Girls and Boys program the UN was running to get away from this marriage. She knew she was worth more than this and she fought for herself in a culture that told her everyday she was not in control of her life.

In America with help from her adoptive parents she graduated from high school and college. She has spent most of her adult life helping people from Sudan recover from the trauma of civil war.

In conclusion
Rebecca’s story was eye opening for me. I feel that reading stories like hers allows me to see what it is like for people living in war torn or third world countries. Places where their basic human rights are denied over and over again.

I have much to be thankful for. I’m thankful for Rebecca and her story. I’m thankful that she keeps fighting for those who have been overlooked and beaten down. She shines as an example of what people can do if only they are given the chance. Her story is heartbreaking but also wonderful. The theme of redemption is woven throughout and the importance of forgiveness is paramount in healing from any kind of trauma.

Recommended reading
If you want to read books similar to What They Meant for Evil I can recommend They Poured Fire on Us from the Sky. This story is told by three Lost Boys of Sudan. I read it a few years ago when I was in college and I liked that one just as much as this one. 

My rating for the book
I gave What They Meant for Evil 4.1/5 stars based on my own personal rating scale.
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This book embodies the definition of true beauty. Rebecca Deng's story is one that needs to be read by millions of people. She not only told a story about survival, she turned her greatest nightmare into hope not only for herself, but for those who went through the same circumstances. There were points where I was brought to tears by some parts of this book. It's nothing short of amazing how her story developed and how she refused to let go of her faith in God despite the circumstances. I'm extremely thankful that she took the time to relive these memories to share them and that I was able to read it. This is a life-changing book.
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This book brought many memories of my years living in Uganda! I saw firsthand and met several people and children escaping these horrible atrocities! The story so simply and eloquently painted a vivid picture of life in Africa! Her faith, her spirit and determination impressed me so much! I met many of her kinsman who gave up when she persevered and kept going! What a tenacious spirit! This book is an absolute read especially anyone who has lived close to this kind of war
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