While the Sun is Above Us

Melanie Schnell

Book Cover

GENRE

DRAMA HISTORICAL FICTION WAR

    Core Theme

    PERSEVERANCE IN TIMES OF WAR.

    TIME PERIOD

    20th Century (multiple decades)

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    BEIRUT, JACK RYAN

    CHARACTER LIST

    • ADUT: 27. LEAD. STRONG WILLED, MATRONLY, COURAGEOUS,
    HEROIC, STRONG MORAL CODE, BEAUTIFUL, DESPERATE

    • SANDRA: 27. LEAD. AN ADVENTUROUS CANADIAN YOUNG WOMAN, SHE TRAVELS TO SUDAN ENTICED BY A PICTURE OF ADUT. SHE WANTS TO HELP.

    Logline

    While the Sun is Above Us takes readers deep into the extraordinary world of Sudan through the intertwined lives of two women. In the midst of a bloody civil war, Adut is brutally captured and held as a slave for eight years. Sandra, fleeing her life in Canada, travels to South Sudan as an aid worker but soon finds herself unwittingly embroiled in a violent local conflict. When chance brings Adut and Sandra together in a brief but profound moment, their lives change forever.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 35-54

    Target Gender: Female leaning

    Setting

    Sudan, Canada

    Based on a True Story

    No

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: with a Publisher

    Publisher: Freehand Books

    Year Published: 2012

    Starting Description

    While the Sun is Above Us is set amidst the backdrop of South Sudan’s civil war. Adut, a woman from the Dinka tribe, grew up in an idyllic village in the South only to be raided by the enemy of the north and taken as a slave for eight years. Sandra flees a painful breakup in Canada to go to Africa.

    Ending Description

    Adut escapes with the help of her father, who captures Sandra to drive him there and to use as bait.

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    No

    ISBN

    Information not completed

    Mature Audience Themes

    Extreme Violence, Sexual Abuse

    Plot - Other Elements

    Meaningful Message

    Plot - Premise

    Voyage and Return

    Main Character Details

    Name: Adut

    Age: 27

    Gender: Female

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Heroic, Strong Moral Code, Beautiful, Desperate

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Sandra

    Age: 27

    Gender: Female

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Development Pitch

    Brief

    Sudan, civil war. Adut is brutally captured and held as a slave for eight years. Sandra, fleeing her life in Canada, travels to South Sudan as an aid worker but soon finds herself unwittingly embroiled in the violent local conflict. When chance brings Adut and Sandra together in a brief but profound moment, their lives change forever.

    What We Liked

    - Heart-wrenching tale of the lives of two women in war-torn north Africa.
    - Imminent danger - they could be killed at any time;
    - Amazing, strong female characters;
    - The African landscape is exotic and cinematic;
    - The characters are rich and well-developed, and the pace is quick;
    - Could attract acclaim and awards.

    Synopsis

    ADUT, 27, recounts her days a slave and how she is now married a living with her aunt. She has two children. She lives in war-ravaged South Sudan and is optimistic about the world despite her surroundings. She prays to her ancestors.

    SANDRA, 27, is being held prisoner in North Sudan. She is visited by a cobra but is not attacked. A boy with one arm feeds her rice. She knows her father is upset and probably spending his life savings to find her, while her mother is obsessed with her new-age life. She doesn’t want to go back to Toronto and let people see how she’s changed.

    Back to the past. Adut is just a girl when she's taken from her village to become a slave to a wealthy family in Sudan. She has chores from when she wakes up until she sleeps, and is told this is Allah's will. She is raped by the head of the house and gives birth in captivity.

    The punishments are harsh - if she steals any food she can have her hands chopped off. When she does finally get the courage to escape with her baby, she is caught and whipped horribly.

    Sandra, a Canadian, is so moved by a photograph of an African woman and her baby she goes there. She thinks the woman in the picture has something life changing to impart to her.

    As part of an aid group, she goes to Sudan but gets caught up in the war, being kidnapped by insurgents, and her life is in danger. Adut and her two children, however, are finally saved by her father, who knows Sandra’s kidnappers, and manages to trade the Canadian for her. Sandra is imprisoned and is in constant fear of rape or execution, and wonders if anyone is looking for her.

    When Sandra is let go from imprisonment, thanks also to a remorseful Adut's father, she ends up in the hospital. After being questioned by soldiers who think she’s a spy, she decides she’s going home. She talks to her father to go live with him.

    About The Author

    Canadian Melanie Schnell spent the better part of one year living in South Sudan in the midst of their civil war, where she did the core of her research for While the Sun is Above Us. She has written for television, as well as had her fiction, poetry and non-fiction published, and have won awards for the poetry and fiction.