Thursday, July 10, 2014

Long Way Gone

A Long Way Gone
by Ishmael Beah

Genre: Memoir

Synopsis:  My new friends have begun to suspect I haven't told them the full story of my life.
"Why did you leave Sierra Leone?"
"Because there is a war."
"You mean, you saw people running around with guns and shooting each other?"
"Yes, all the time."
I smile a little.
"You should tell us about it sometime."
"Yes, sometime."

This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s.  Children have become soldiers of choice.  In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child solidiers.  Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.

What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier?  How does one become a killer?  How does one stop?  Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives.  But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.

In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attaching rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence.  By thirteen, he'd been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts.

This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honestly.
From the ebook

Review:  This was a very eye-opening book about what has happened in various parts of Africa as Sierra Leone is not the only place where boys have been soldiers.  Beah writes this story in a fairly matter-of-fact manner.  He does interject some of his feelings and emotions but this story is more about him escaping from the rebels and traveling with groups of boys to try to find their parents and safety and then ultimately being drafted into the government army and trained to be a killer.  Most of the events when he was a soldier are his memories once he was "traded" to UNICEF so that he could be rehabilitated.  His story was compelling but also horrific.  Beah is an amazing young man and I commend him for sharing his story.  I am in awe of the courage that he showed as such a young man.  The ending did not seem like an ending though.  I really wanted to know what happened after he found his way to freedom.  The book just ended so abruptly.

Rating: 4 stars

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