Review Fridays #1- A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

 

A Long Way Gone

Book author- Ishmael Beah

The key to reading this book is to read it as the author wrote it- detached. He relives the scenes with incredible detail and imagery, but moves through them quickly so as not to dwell too much on what they entail. My suggestion is that the reader does the same. The pain is real. The scenes are graphic. The content is disturbing.

But that doesn’t take away from the beauty of this story. Beah provides his reader with a glimpse into a brutal war that was thrust upon him as a child. He is separated from his family and is forced to flee from one village to the next in search of safety. He no longer recognizes his country as it has been torn apart by war.  Through his journey, he’s rendered helpless as we watches friends die, is forced to live in pure terror, and fears for his life daily. He is only 12.

By age 13, he is “recruited” by the government army to fight against the rebels in Sierra Leone. Barely able to hold the assault rifle he is given, Beah is fed drugs and taught to fight without conscience.

The reader is taken on Beah’s rollercoaster through the eyes of a child in war. The tale is painful to endure, but utterly stunning, and it will really make you appreciate the life you have.

Ishmael Beah
Ishmael Beah Photo credit Flickr’s Creative Commons user ALA The American Libraries Assoc

Beah is articulate and weaves beautiful insights and life lessons through his harrowing story. Though many of his readers have never experienced war first-hand as he has, his memoir is still relatable on some level. Loss, pain, confusion, rehabilitation, and finally acceptance and purpose will all be experienced as you read through this book.

“When I was young, my father used to say, ‘If you are alive, there is hope for a better day and something good to happen. If there is nothing good left in the destiny of a person, he or she will die.’ I thought about these words during my journey, and they kept me moving even when I didn’t know where I was going. Those words became the vehicle that drove my spirit forward and made it stay alive.”  

 

 

**Disclaimer: Because of the nature of the material of this memoir, I don’t recommend this be read by anyone that has issues with violence or horror.  

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