A Long Way Gone
Memoirs of A Boy Soldier
From Library Staff
Beah's memoir of his excruciatingly violent life in Sierra Leone as a child solider, and finding redemption as human rights activist.
2008 Everybody Reads
A Long Way Gone is the riveting, firsthand account of Ishmael Beah, a 12-year-old child soldier, hopped up on drugs and wielding an AK-47, who gets swept up in the horrors of civil war in his African homeland.
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There were all kinds of stories told about the war that made it sound as if it was happening in a faraway and different land. It wasn't until refugees started passing through our town that we began to see that it was actually taking place in our country. Families who had walked hundreds of miles told how relatives had been killed and their houses burned. Some people felt sorry for them and offered them places to stay, but most of the refugees refused, because they said the war would eventually reach our town. The children of these families wouldn't look at us, and they jumped at the sound of chopping wood or as stones landed on the tin roofs flung by children hunting birds with slingshots. The adults among these children from the war zones would be lost in their thoughts during conversations with the elders of my town. Apart from their fatigue and malnourishment, it was evident they had seen something that plagued their minds, something that we would refuse to accept if they told us all of it. At times I thought that some of the stories the passersby told were exaggerated. The only wars I knew of were those that I had read about in books or seen in movies such as Rambo: First Blood, and the one in neighboring Liberia that I had heard about on the BBC news. My imagination at ten years old didn't have the capacity to grasp what had taken away the happiness of the refugees
At age 12, Ishmael Beah fled his village after it was attacked. At age 13, he joined the government armgy and is feed drugs in order to attack villages. At 16, he is removed from fighting by UNICEF and through the help of staff at his rehabilitation centre, he learned how to forgive hmself to regain his humanity and finally to heal. He eventually imigrates to the US and is adopted by a family. He attended school and university.
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