“I joined the army to avenge the deaths of my family and to survive, but I’ve come to learn that if I am going to take revenge, in that process I will kill another person whose family will want revenge; then revenge and revenge and revenge will never come to an end…”
Even when I first heard about this book, I knew A Long Way Gone would leave its mark on me. This memoir telling the story of a young boy soldier in Sierra Leone is both impressive, sad and overwhelming. Ismael Beah was lucky enough to survive the terrors of the civil war and tells us without filter exactly how things really were for young boys in Sierra Leone. Make sure to have a tissue box closeby, because you will need it while you read A Long Way Gone!
Memoirs Of A Boy Soldier tells the story of Ishmael Beah, now twenty-five years old. In this memoir he tells his heartbreaking story of his experiences during the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone and the ongoing predicament of child soldiers in conflicts worldwide. When Beah was 12, he was forced to escape from attacking rebels in Sierra Leone. He was separated from his family and as he travelled around his country to escape the war, he was forced to join an army unit in order to stay alive. There they brainwashed him by giving him drugs and by thirteen, he had seen more people die (quite a few by his own hand) and experienced incidents that others may not have to deal with throughout their entire lives. At the age of 16, however, UNICEF removed him from the unit and gave him a chance to be forgiven and to start a new life in Freetown. When he traveled to the USA to participate in a conference, he was given a chance to teach others about the horrific and unimaginable things he was forced to face . Things that millions of children around the world still face today… He had to go back to Sierra Leone after the conference, but when the situation became too dangerous to stay in Freetown, where he lived with his uncle, he fled the country and was able to get back to the USA, where he lives to this day.
This book is a truly impressive story and I admire Ishmael’s courage to tell his story to the world; admitting that he killed a lot of innocent people in the process. I respect him for that and also for giving us the opportunity to read and try understand how children are forced to do horrible things when facing war. This book is definitely recommended to those who enjoy reading non fiction, memoirs or stories about foreign cultures. Warning: A Long Way Gone is not for the weakhearted.