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Don't Look Back:

A Memoir of War, Survival, and My Journey from Sudan to America

by Achut Deng and Keely Hutton

Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

ISBN-13: 9780374389710


Nedra Marie Taylor (Narrator)

Macmillan Young Listeners 

ISBN:  9781250870506


Read PW article:

'Don't Look Back': A Sudanese Refugee's True Story of Survival—and Arrival  by Sarah J. Robbins



Cover design by Mallory Grigg


"Southern Sudanese Deng’s remarkable life story is one of loss and survival

The combined experience and talents of Hutton and Deng result in crisp, clear writing that is eminently readable. Deng’s voice rings authentically through the telling, her resilient spirit eclipsing the grueling trials she was forced to endure.

Though Deng’s grandmother once told her to never look back, readers will thank Deng for disobeying her and sharing her moving, powerful story." Michael Cart

Booklist, starred review ✭


"This is a gripping account of an extraordinary journey. A powerful read for this time of unprecedented refugee movement across the globe."

Kirkus Reviews


“Don’t Look Back is remarkable in its unflinching honesty about the price paid by children in a war zone. Achut Deng, with the sensitive and deft hand of Keely Hutton, bares her heart to share her life story, one that is painful and terrifying, but ultimately uplifting and inspiring.”

—Deborah Heiligman​, National Book Award finalist and Printz Honor author ​​

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Map illustration © 2022 by Abi Daker





I want life.

After a deadly attack in South Sudan left six-year-old Achut Deng without a family, she lived in refugee camps for ten years, until a refugee relocation program gave her the opportunity to move to the United States. When asked why she should be given a chance to leave the camp, Achut simply told the interviewer: I want life.

But the chance at starting a new life in a new country came with a different set of challenges. Some of them equally deadly. Taught by the strong women in her life not to look back, Achut kept moving forward, overcoming one obstacle after another, facing each day with hope and faith in her future. Yet, just as Achut began to think of the US as her home, a tie to her old life resurfaced, and for the first time, she had no choice but to remember her past.

In this powerful, and propulsive memoir, Achut Deng and Keely Hutton tell a harrowing and inspiring story showing both the ugliness and the beauty of humanity, and the power of not giving up.

Read The Atlantic article:

I Didn’t Want My Children to Know—And Then I Did

by Caitlin Dickerson

Read The Boston Globe article:

With the memoir ‘Don’t Look Back,’ a Sudanese refugee turns pain into pride

by Christy DeSmith

Listen to Fierce reads nonfiction panel:
Fierce Reads Nonfiction PanelAWM Author Talks
00:00 / 40:33

Fierce Reads Nonfiction Panel, a discussion of the various forms of nonfiction writing with five authors who work in the genre. In order of appearance, the writers are Achut Deng and Keely Hutton, Alex Graudins, Ashley Woodfolk, and Jessica Vitkus.

by American Writers Museum

Achut Deng author photo.jpg

Achut Deng was born in South Sudan and came to America as a refugee when she was sixteen years old, a story she recounts in her memoir, Don't Look Back. She is now an American citizen and works in human resources at a meat-packing plant in South Dakota, where she also resides. She is the mother of three sons.


Listen to Achut be interviewed  on NY Times The Daily Podcast in 2020 HERE

Meet the Author

Has South Sudan’s Conflict Really Ended? FreeSpeechTV’s Feminism Today Interview with Achut and Keely -

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