Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier - Ishmael Beah

also reviewed by Heather and Mindy

Summary:New York City, 1998
My high school 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.”
“Did you witness some of the fighting?”
“Everyone in the country did.”
“You mean you saw people running around with guns and shooting each other?”
“Yes, all the time.”
“Cool.”
I smile a little.
“You should tell us about it sometime.”
“Yes, sometime.”
This is how wars are fought now: by children, traumatized, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become the soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.
What does war look 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 it is rare to find a first-person account from someone who endured this hell and survived.
In A LONG WAY GONE: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, Beah, now twenty-six years old, tells a powerfully gripping story: At the age of twelve, he fled attacking 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. At sixteen, he was removed from fighting by UNICEF, and through the help of the staff at his rehabilitation center, he learned how to forgive himself, to regain his humanity, and, finally, to heal.
This is an extraordinary and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty.

My Review: I know that there has been mixed reviews on this novel. I will make this very short and sweet.
If you want to know what so many choose to ignore. If you want to cry and remember what it is to be human, no matter what color...read this book. For you and for all mankind, we are in this together...ACT LIKE IT.

My Rating: 5

If I could sum this book up in one phrase: We have all become lazy in our efforts, if we let other humans suffer such atrocities on our watch. Read it.

1 comment:

CurtisandMindy said...

this sounds like it will be amazing. i'm looking forward to reading it...but at the same time I'm terrified.

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