By Denise Turney
Long Walk Up is the new book penned by writer Denise Turney, author of the books Spiral, Portia and Love Has Many Faces. Throughout its pages Long Walk Up keeps to the premise embodied in the African Proverb that tell us, “How ever long the night, the dawn will break.” This poignant and tautly written story opens with a little girl in East Africa named Mulukan. The child is orphaned at a mere six years old after her mother transitions beneath the crushing blow of malaria, a disease that has ravaged Africa for far too long. Keeping with many African traditions, the community or tribe, Mulukan is born into, the community her entire family sprang from, takes Mulukan in and cares for her. Yet, Mulukan has a deep sense of an unforeseen journey within her. The morning after her mother’s body is returned to the earth, Mulukan sets out upon this journey. Each step is not without trouble, fear and doubt. Nevertheless the familiar and powerful sense of knowing that she has to move toward her destiny propels Mulukan forward. And in Africa as in other parts of the world, this is often the case. It was a real life story of a five year-old girl and her young brother who were orphaned due to AIDS that sparked part of the foundation for the remarkable story that has become Long Walk Up.
Mulukan’s journey starts at the bottom of a long hill at the edges of the plain the community, her family and extended kin have lived in for several months. That hill leads Mulukan to a market where the young girl meets a man who has spent the last years of his life aiding orphans. Mulukan does not know this when her path intersects with the man’s. The scene unfolds, “Mulukan crawled to the edge of the stand and peered around the corner. She watched the people and searched for an opening, a time when she could mix in with them undetected. That time did not come until nightfall. Everyone, except for one man, was gone away from the market. The juice of squashed tomatoes, melons, greens and beets sprinkled the earth. The man packed up the last supplies of his fruit and vegetable stand. Mulukan ran up to him like she was his daughter, like he’d been looking for her.”
Mulukan is a remarkable child who takes on jobs as a young adult simply to help pay her meager living expenses. Her journey takes her a long way from the community she grew up in. Finally, she lands a job working in the Communications Department for a president in Africa. It is here where Mulukan steps into her destiny. Events do not progress as she would like, but they push her forward. There is never a space in Mulukan’s life when she can remain stagnant. Challenging and equally rewarding experiences she faces demand that she keep moving and she does. Her efforts are supported by the love and the spirit-guidance she receives from her mother. Mulukan, the child who was forced to grow up alone, is a woman before she realizes that she has never been without help for, she comes to know, that Yahweh and her mother, have always loved her and guided her on her journey, a journey that leads her to become Africa’s first female president.
Long Walk Up is a highly regarded book written by an author who has proven to be gifted and knowledgeable on how to craft a memorable story. Readers familiar with Turney’s work began to purchase and read the story prior to the book’s official release date. One common depiction for Long Walk Up from readers is that the story is poignant, emotionally gripping and inspiring. And this is as it should be for Long Walk Up is a book about love and courage. Readers will be inspired to boldly step into their life’s journey and begin what, for them, through life’s twists and turns may at times appear to be the Long Walk Up.
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