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A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

Child soldiers...

This book chronicles the childhood of young Ishmael in Sierra Leone. A fairly normal childhood until he is forced to run into the jungle as soldiers attack his village killing everyone they can catch and looting and burning the rest.

For a short while flanked by othe...
This book chronicles the childhood of young Ishmael in Sierra Leone. A fairly normal childhood until he is forced to run into the jungle as soldiers attack his village killing everyone they can catch and looting and burning the rest.

For a short while flanked by others his age in similar situations he survives life constantly on the run. Then he is captured by a group of soldiers and retrained to think right and to be a soldier in the conflict. Some of the 'retrainee' soldiers are only 8 or 9 years old! Are these rebels trying to overthrow the government? Or the army protecting the citizens? Turns out not to matter. Each side is equally brutal and vicious. There is no good guys, only bad. He learns to fight, shoot and kill as well as the real soldiers. And to help avoid any feelings or reflection on his activities he is given access to various drugs to 'amp' him up further.

By the grace of whatever higher power you choose to believe in, he gets selected for deprogramming and entry back into society. Not an easy task, but due to the incredible efforts of UNICEF and others it is finally done. Find out what has become of this young man and his new life. It is an unbelievable story.

If it all wasn't the truth. No punches spared. No letting himself off easy after his actions. Most poignantly the story is clearly written by a child.No ghostwriters to neaten it up. You get the whole horrible story from the raw emotional perspective of a 12 year old! I know I would not have survived as well as he has did. You can't help but cry as you turn the pages and confront one terror after another. Everyone should read this book!

posted by iluvvideo on July 17, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

Highly recommended. A must read!

Most teenage boys are busy getting good grades, growing up, and playing video games; not Ishmael Beah. In his memoir A Long Way Gone, Ishmael recounts his childhood in Sierra Leone. While still being a boy, he has to quickly evolve into a man, a painful and tragic tra...
Most teenage boys are busy getting good grades, growing up, and playing video games; not Ishmael Beah. In his memoir A Long Way Gone, Ishmael recounts his childhood in Sierra Leone. While still being a boy, he has to quickly evolve into a man, a painful and tragic transformation. With vivid description and flowing language, Beah powerfully describes how war changed his life.

When war reaches Ishmael's area of Sierre Leone, he and a group of surviving friends set out to find safety and their loved ones. After travelling the country, the small group of refugees find safety in a village occupied by the Government Army. Eventually he and his friends are recruited by the army to fight the rebels who had destroyed their homes. Beah expertly describes his experiences as a boy soldier and his transformations between being a civilian and a killer. After all Ishmael went through, it is amazing how he was able to write a book such as A Long Way Gone with little hatred or contempt. In fact, despite the story being subjective, the book contains little emotion. The lack of emotion can sometimes be confusing, as I found myself forgetting that the events actually happened to him. This would cause me to read a passage in a surreal-like state, and I would have to reread that section to grasp the actual meaning of the events.

The basis of the story is Beah’s survival through war, a theme found in many other books. But what sets this book apart, is that it also shows his rehabilitation after his participation in the war. This reveals two sides to the war: why it was fought, and what happened afterwards. Having Beah’s rehabilitation incorporated into the story allows the reader to see a side of war that few know about. The reader sees that the two sides are different, but both are battlefields in their own right. Despite its unique content, the book is not designed to entertain the reader, more so, the book's main purpose is to show people what Beah went through as a boy soldier. Anyone who reads this book will gain a deeper understanding of what war is like, and how it changes a person. This makes the book even more special because it can correlate to, not just the war in Serria Leone, but to every war. It unveils the horror of battle and its painful changes thrust upon people, battle-hardened and civilian alike.

The story, as a whole flows very easily, which is a great aspect, despite the fact that some chapters are awkwardly placed. In this way, the story’s flow works against the book, because it causes some chapters to begin or end uncomfortably. This results in an occasional choppy read, as action parts are interrupted or slow parts suddenly jump into fast paced sections. On the other hand, the setting and characters reveal a good amount of Sierra Leone's culture, and the negative impact of the war. The description really helps the reader understand and feel for Ishmael's predicament, an aspect of the book that only a survivor could give. This also makes up for the lack of emotion mentioned before, as the reader unconventionally is required to make his or her own emotions to replace the author’s lack of. However, this book is not immune to criticism. One of the characteristics about the book that really bothered me was the fact that the story never stayed at the same pace. It is in chronological order, but one paragraph might span a few minutes, while the next paragraph happens a few months later. The uneven sp

posted by BuckeyeBricks on January 29, 2012

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  • Posted May 1, 2013

    Khayman Nunez Sautner/P6 May 1, 2013 Book Review A Long Way Gone

    Khayman Nunez
    Sautner/P6
    May 1, 2013
    Book Review
    A Long Way Gone Review
                    This nerve-racking novel accounts for the life of a young boy, Ishmael Beah, surrounded by friends and family, living a happy life, practicing his dancing to his American rap cassettes, suddenly gets it all taken away. Forced to flee his home into some unrecognized land, he struggles to stay away and hidden from the rebels, he gets recruited by the national army and becomes a twelve year old soldier. Taught to use an AK 47, he was trained to kill any rebel he saw, whether it was shooting them or stabbing them multiple times until they were for sure dead.
                    Countless days of fighting went on between the army and the rebels, raiding each other’s camps for food and water, Ishmael was shot for the first time in the foot, barely feeling because of the drugs, Ishmael made it back to his base safely. Luckily he was saved by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), from the murder and drugs he was dragged into. Ishmael was sent to a rehabilitation center to get him off drugs and become a normal teenager. Ishmael had a lot of anger built up in him, but with the help of the nurse was able to let it go and become happy again. Ishmael has seen the worst of humanity as a twelve year old boy and still managed to live a regular life.
     Ishmael changed a significant amount in the span of this book, which is the theme of the book. War changes people, Ishmael went from a young innocent boy to a killing machine, and addicted to drugs. When people saw him they got afraid and ran away in terror. This book teaches everyone who reads it about the real world and how violent it can get. Humans can do some really bad things to each other and this book shows and teaches you all about it. This book is written so perfectly, it feels like you are there with him, experiencing what he did. Through his good memories and close to death events, the details are so riveting it feels like you are seeing all of it with your own eyes. “In the sky there are always answers and explanations for everything: every pain, every suffering, joy and confusion.”

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2014

    Not disappointed.

    This book was really good. I had to read it for global & I hoped it was as good as the comments I read said it was. I was not disappointed. I even got upset when I was reading this book because I really wanted the author to be reunited with his family. The only thing I did not like about this book is that the chaps were too long. Thats the only reason I did'nt complete the book after 3 days.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 25, 2012

    Horrific and moving

    Beah is not a great writer, but he is a great storyteller. His account of child soldiering and of the civil war in Sierra Leone is horrific and moving. When I read the book, I was impressed by the direct, to-the-point approach he took to writing and by the sincerity readers could sense beneath the surface of his simple, gut-wrenching diction. Though hard if not impossible to corroborate with evidence, Beah's telling of his experience in the rebel army and in a treatment facility is scary, intense and from the heart. Overall this book is recommended for those interested in global issues and how these issues affect individual lives. This book is a fast read, but it contains a large amount of graphic violence and emotional trauma, and is not recommended for those seeking a fast and fun read.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 23, 2009

    A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

    A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah is a personal narrative about his experience in Sierra Leone's civil war. He tries to escape the rebels, is taken in as a boy soldier, and is rehabilitated by UNICEF. The book has a strong message about the child fighting in Africa.
    Beah hives accurate descriptions of his day to day life. Some of the events are horrific and scar him for life, such as seeing dead bodies all over invaded and burning villages. His personal feelings and his psychological troubles that are told provide great insight into the effects of the turmoil continuously happening in African countries. While some of the story seems repetitive and drawn out, it is the truth as it happened and as people need to know it.
    Most people know of at least some of the things that take place in these hostile environments, but they often do not realize the full impact the battles and killings have on the people, especially the children. This book gives an accurate, well done description of what it is like, and while things like this have to be experienced to understand all of the fear and anger; it reveals some of the truths and horrors to try to stop the injustices.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 12, 2013

    This account of a young boy being turned into a killing machine

    This account of a young boy being turned into a killing machine by the Sierra Leone Army is harrowing to say the least. Ishmael Beah does not spare the reader anything he went through either. From the death of his family to his first killing, the reader is with him through the worst of it. A compelling read that held my attention until the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2013

    I never knew!

    Nor, I'm sure, did most of the rest of the world. Very informative re children soldiers in Africa and most likely any country where children are either recruited for fighting or tortured/killed. It really opened my eyes to the horror and dehumanization that happens to children in the terrorized countries. I had no idea. I was so happy to know that Ishmael found a mother and familyI, and others, who offered him the love & support he needed to enable him to share himself and regain andreturn the love that is so natural to children starting as babies. thank you Ishmael.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2013

    Although the gruesome details in this novel sicken me, it was



    Although the gruesome details in this novel sicken me, it was an overall excellent book. Ishmael retells his story in an inspiring way. He and his friends left home to play in a talent show out of town. When they were gone, the rebel army attacked their village. It was chaos in the village as people were being murdered and running for their lives. Ishmael and his companions faced an infinite amount of difficulties from then on. As they were attempting to avoid rebels and search for their family, they were trying not to die from starvation. Eventually government rebels talked Ishmael into fighting against the rebels with them. At first, Ishmael was still an innocent boy. He wondered about his family and did not want to harm anybody. Then war took him over, and he began killing innocent people, doing drugs, and emerging into the person he aspired never to become.
    There are great parts of this novel, and also terrible parts. Ishmael’s personality and way of writing makes this novel extremely interesting. Whenever he made a humorous remark, the reader would laugh. Whenever he explained a dramatic, depressing scene, the reader would want to cry. The only negative things about the book are the bloody scenes and the ending. In the book, there are parts when babies are shot in their mother’s hands, little girls being raped, brutal fights, and much more. As the scenes are needed to show the seriousness of the book, they still scar the reader mentally. Secondly, the ending is horrible. Not only does it not further explain what happens to Ishmael, but it ends abruptly. The reader ends up confused and angry.
    “A Long Way Gone” is an extremely valuable book to read. Its key theme is survival, which any reader could use in a positive way. After reading this book, I have a completely different insight on things. It snaps the reader back into reality of the world and changes your way of thinking. A powerful quote that touches the reader is, “It is not your fault”. It is powerful because it is an example of dramatic irony. Ishmael thinks it is his fault when the reader knows and feels sorry for the one and only, Ishmael Beah.

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  • Posted March 15, 2013

    What if one day you fall asleep with no worries? Everything is p

    What if one day you fall asleep with no worries? Everything is perfect, nothing is wrong. But then you wake up in complete terror seeing people getting tortured and killed with their houses getting burned and being separated from their families. What would you do? Would you be able to escape? “A Long Way Gone,” by Ishmael Beah is a book about a 13 year old boy soldier in the country of Sierra Leone in West Africa. Ishmael who started off as a refugee that was trying to escape the war going on in Sierra Leone, but soon to find out he was found and captured by the army and was forced to kill people or he would have been killed.

    In the book the plot is full of twists because the plot has the reader being lead into one direction but then it changes out of nowhere and the book will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. For example when Ishmael was forced to do things that he hated but if he didn’t do it he would have been killed, such as when he was forced to kill innocent people.There are many moments of the plot that readers will like because of its attention to detail in the way it describes pain and also the way it describes the hardship that Ishmael goes through. As the reader gets deeper into the book the plot gets a lot more riveting in the sense that you can really understand the pain he is feeling, what he is thinking, the reader can put themselves in his shoes. 
     The main character in A Long Way Gone is Ishmael. He was portrayed as a child who does whatever it takes to survive and that is trully what he did. He faced a lot of challenges physically and mentally throughout his journey. For example when the rebels raided his village he saw people be shot by high powered machine guns and people getting blown up into chunks of flesh by grenades and rocket launchers. There are many other characters such as the boys that Ismael tries to escape the war with but them and more side characters come in and out of the book a lot. But overall the reader shouldn’t get too caught up in the fact that they switch out a lot.
     The prose in this novel can be characterized as very descriptive and full of imagery. For example, he talks about the graphic things he saw such as someone getting their arm chopped off by a machete, it is explained in such great detail that the reader will feel as if they are right there watching all of this unfold. The author seems to be more about the narrative than the dialogue. He is a lot more descriptive about what is going on in the scene other than what are the people saying and it gave the book a totally different experience for the reader.
     Overall, the book was pretty good it didn’t strike me as amazing. I would recommend this book to many readers out there because it was a pretty good book and it was a fun read. This book wasn’t a complete waste of time but I had higher hopes for the book because of the first few pages of the book i had read but it turned out that it really didn’t impress me to the extent that I had expected.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2013

    This story showed bravery  and a young hero fighting for what he

    This story showed bravery  and a young hero fighting for what he believes in. 
    Kyle A

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  • Posted October 1, 2012

    A Great Read

    "A Long Way Gone Memoirs a Boy Soldier" by Ishmael Beah is an autobiography of the author as he lives day by day in Africa trying to survive and escape the rebel army. This novel is one of the best that I have ever read it kept me reading the whole time. However this story is not for people who have a weak stomach or who do not like to read about people being killed or dead bodies. For me this book was very interesting and I highly recommend this novel.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2012

    “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah is a story of love

    “A Long Way Gone” by Ishmael Beah is a story of love, hate, war, and a bit of hope. Beah was just 13 years old when he was “recruited” into the army and given an AK-47. He had lost his entire family to brutal killings by rebel soldiers. They were burned alive, locked in their huts just a short time before Ishmael was to reunite with them. His only hope for survival was the army. Hopped up on cocaine and other stimulants, Ishmael saw and did unimaginable things during that war. For someone with an interest in Africa and what is going on outside the US, I would strongly recommend this book as it brings up a lot of material regarding boys and teenagers in countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo who have been deprived of their childhoods. The perseverance of the boys is what stood out most, and it is rather admirable. It takes a special person to be able to make it through times of war and battle. Ismael Beah did a great job of keeping the mood better than it seemed. “A Long Way Gone” is a compelling read and a big reason why I prefer non-fiction to fiction. It was well written and I recommend this book to anyone who doesn’t mind violence in healthy doses.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    An Amazing Book!

    This book is about a young 12 year old boy who is separated from his family and forced to hide alone. He witnesses men, women, and children of all ages being murdered. Ishmael Beah was on his way to Kambia, one of the safest places during the attack of the rebels. After separating from his brother, Junior, he was forced to join an army unit. When he was 16, UNICEF removed him from this army unit and put him in a foster care home. He had been kind of reckless for the first few months, nearly almost killed a kid, but then he realized he had to forgive himself for all of the people he had killed. After being in the foster care system for awhile, his Uncle Tommy is his foster parent. Ishmael lives with him and his family in Freetown. He goes to New York to share his experience as a boy soldier to other kids. His Uncle dies in Freetown, and Laura Simms is his new foster mother. A major message in this book to me is, don't be greedy or complain because there are people in this world that have it way worse than us. I really liked how it explained his whole experience and how he used a lot of details. I didn't like the parts when he explained how the people died, it was just to gross for me. You shouldn't read this if you're not a fan of gross detail deaths. You should read this if you are interested in other peoples experiences in other countries.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2012

    A Highly Interesting Read

    The horrors of war and the struggles of survival are the harsh realities facing Ishmael Beah in A Long Way Gone. This story takes place in Sierra Leone during a violent civil war that revenged the country from 1991-2002, and is told through the eyes of Ishmael. He is a young boy living in Mogbwemo when he sets leaves home to participate in a talent show in the town of Mattru Jong with a rap group made up of his friends. Once there, the boys learn that rebels of the Revolutionary United Front have attacked their home. Then boys then flee after learning that Mattru Jong is the next target of attack. The group wanders from town to town narrowly avoiding encounters with the Rebels and witnessing much death. Before long, the group is captured and forced to become a part of the rebel army. They are given drugs and training and sent off to battle. Once Ishmael kills his first soldier during the conflict he begins having nightmares and is given more drugs to cope. Throughout his tenure with the rebels, and his multitude of battles, Ishmael loses his innocence and remarks that killing has become second nature. Later, he is removed from battle by UNICEF along with some other boy soldiers and taken to a rehabilitation center. The boys react violently at first to any attempts to control them, but eventually begin to revert back to normal after a time of being in a safe place. A kindly nurse named Esther is particularly important to helping to remedy Ishmael’s problems. She uses rap music as a catalyst for his healing. Ishmael then becomes a spokesman for the rehabilitation center and speaks to others about his experiences. The themes of this work are that war is a corrupting force, and that relationships are important. I liked the unique perspective that this book had of a boy who grows to participate in the conflict that consumes his country, though I disliked the simplistic diction found throughout the story. Overall I would recommend this work, although it does have graphic descriptions of the horrors of war, so if you are bothered by such details then this might not be the book for you. I would give the book four out of five stars.

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  • Posted January 29, 2012

    Enlightening

    An awful circumstance often moves the brave to take a stand. But what we should worry about, in the case of Ishmael, is what they stand for. Ishmael, at thirteen years old, decides to don a mask of violence and lose himself in the Sierra Leonean national army. He fights against the rebels, the people who kill his family brutally, leaving him an orphan on the run. In A Long Way Gone, human rights activist Ishmael Beah finds an outlet for an honestly simple story about a child soldier in Sierra Leone-- his memoirs.
    A most truthful book, A Long Way Gone brings up violence in everyday life, drugs, and the pain of remembering. Ishmael’s army days revolve around combat practice, Rambo movies, smoking marijuana, and sniffing “brown-brown”, a mixture made from cocaine and gunpowder. It brings focus to the little people and the people who lose what was left to live in their lives: Children who never get to grow up, children who lose all they have in their personalities to serving the army, babies killed with their mothers, his own family being burned to death in a house minutes before he arrived.
    With this book, Ishmael weaves a strong net of words. The weave of his net is simple, but strong. The net isn’t too small or too large to capture his ideas and actions, and they fill his net with enough raw power and rough emotion to capture the attention of people everywhere. Ishmael’s words are precise, concise, and comprehendible, which makes the book more believable. One could also say it makes it more brutal, because what he describes simply and honestly would make us here in the United States disturbed for a lifetime.
    This book is written “to all the children of Sierra Leone who were robbed of their childhoods.” I believe unless one is willing to read this book, we cannot give them the honor they deserve. In my generation the war in Sierra Leone is vague, as it happened before we could understand what was happening, and in a foreign nation at that.
    If Beah wrote this to bring reverence to the children who never got to enjoy their youth as they should, I daresay he certainly has the respects of many. But being a human rights activist, one could appropriately assume that he’d have also been trying to prevent these horrors from happening to children again. A beautiful wish, though I doubt it’s possible. However, A Long Way Gone leaves a distinct aversion to violence in one’s head, and one would want to join him in his hopefulness.
    The most amazing part of this book is how Ishmael manages to keep the reader focused. For long periods of time, Ishmael isn’t himself. Addicted to marijuana and “brown-brown”, he doesn’t think as himself, the true Ishmael. He’s lost his love of music, his love of being young and carefree, in violence, drugs, and terrible grief and shock. As you read the book, you can see glimmers of Ishmael through the war and that’s what makes you keep reading.
    In a method of storytelling not unlike a professor recounting a reason to study algebra, Ishmael tells his story in the hopes that people will wake up and realize that the war actually happened, and wasn’t off in some distant land no one’s been to or heard of. Little by little as he realizes the need for his dark memories of the war, he moves on from his own troubles to help others. I admire him for always moving on. Though this book didn’t necessarily change my life, it influenced the way I think about foreign issues, and how kids in the United States, including myself, re

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  • Posted January 28, 2012

    Great!

    A Trip Through the Horrors of War A Long Way Gone by Ishamael Beah is a true story about how a his life is turned upside down and he future almost ruined. The primary topic is Ishamael’s account of his life is his time as a boy soldier and the the time he spends trying to get over it. He writes this to show how horrible it is for the boy soldiers. I personally think this book was horrifying because of the topics it addressed and makes me want help the children get out of that life. His story follows his life from the time he lost his family after his village was raided to him going before the UN to tell them about the problems in his country. He tells us of the horrifying things he did as a teen, stuff that even adults would’t do. He tells us of the time they spends wandering though the country side roving from village to village trying to find a safe place for him and his friends hide. Then he goes on to explain the rehab process he had to go through. Most of these thing would have an adult messed up for life much less a teen. It’s amazing to me that he even recovered at all. Ishmael has done much more and seen more than most soldiers will ever see. During his long travels he meets up with many people some new friends, some old friends who travel and survive with him. There were even times they were close to dying or being captured. Often times they would go days without food or water during their long hikes through Sierra Leone. Along the way they would often find some villages and occasionally these villages were razed to the ground by rebel troops or even army troops. The villages were very key to the survival to his group of friends, they would often be there to help them along their way. Every now and then these villages would try and stop them, try to kill them or turn them in. Most of the time they were of a neutral disposition to them, not caring, but not hurting or hunting them down. This book is very well written and very clear in its intentions. The goal of this book is to help stop the African countries from using boy soldiers to fight the wars. It is also to help show that war is terrible thing that destroys families, lives, and countries. He defiantly achieves his goal with this book, he does this by showing us the horrors he endured when he was younger. Yet there is even more to prove the point if it hasn’t already been proven To take his point even further he tells more about the things he has done. He proves his point by describing all of the horrible things he did when he was with the army, from murdering innocent people to executing the captured enemy soldiers in horrific ways such as slashing them with a knife. Another horrible thing that he told about was how the adults in the army were giving cocaine to the children to make them fight better, and the long and difficult process of recovering from the addiction of it. All in all I don't think he really left that much out of his long and hard story. He was a very descriptive writer, but at times he was way too descriptive and it became tedious. All in all I think this was a really well done memoir. I will even give this well written story a nine out of ten, it could be better written at times but overall Ishmael did an amazing job for someone who went through the life he did and wasn’t an author by profession It opens up my eyes to the horrors of our world today. Even with all of the advancements we make there are still countries with savage tendencie

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  • Posted January 8, 2012

    A highly enlightening read

    A Long Way Gone depicts the struggles and terror inflicted upon a young boy, Ishmael, by a civil war in his native country of Sierra Leone. With his immediate family killed by the rebels, Ishmael has no choice but to agree to join the government army to survive the devastation unfolding all around him. In this quest for survival, Ishmael loses his innocence, home, and everything he has ever known. This powerfully gripping memoir eloquently describes the horror and pain that no man, woman, or child was immune to during this time. The fact that the story is told through the eyes of a former child soldier that has seen it all on the front lines of the war is especially moving. A Long Way Gone brings readers face to face with the battles young people in third world countries fight every day, which at times can be difficult to imagine and identify with. It also sheds light on the ways boys go from innocent children to gun wielding soldiers under the influence of drugs and manipulative adults. It is often out of necessity or force, not blood lust, that these average children come to be soldiers in a war they do not even understand. However, this is also a story of redemption, as Ishmael is given the opportunity to trade his AK-47 for a life with his new found family. His rehabilitation process showed that underneath the hardened soldier exterior was still a child yearning for direction and guidance in life. The message of hope in the wake of destruction is conveyed well through Ishmael's humor and recollections throughout the book. A Long Way Gone productively acts as the voice of the nameless child soldiers around the world who are the true victims of the wars they fight in.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2011

    Great

    This book is great. Its kind of scary to think that people had to live like this though.

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  • Posted October 15, 2011

    Teenager life?

    Bang! BOOM! BAHHH! Sounds of gunshots being fired from different directions and bodies falling to the ground after every shot. In the memoir A long way gone by Ishmael Beah, Ishmael a teenager at the ages of thirteen through fifteen started to experience the life being without his parents and being in a gruesome civil war. Ishmael is faced with many interrogating people that forced him and villagers out of their villages. The rebels invaded many villages and killed off many. He was faced with many intense and emotional times in his life. I feel that this memoir has a lot of meaning to it because throughout the story the intense you feel the same emotion that the characters are feeling. ""We must strive to be like the moon." (16) Ishmael asks his grandmother what the quote meant and she said, "no one grumbles when the moon shines, because a lot of happy things happened in the moonlight." That quote is an inspiration to Ishmael because as he travels from place to place he has much happier times in the night rather than in the day. Throughout the book Ishmael goes through many challenges but maintains to overcome them with heart and perseverance. I recommend this book to be read because if you read this memoir you will experience the emotions that this teenager is feeling , being in a war and being separated from his parents.

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  • Posted October 14, 2011

    This book is a great read, but it is not for children.

    This story, A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah, helped me to realize that war is never as it seems. My previous perception of war is when two countries with well-trained, well-armed, and well-prepared soldiers fight each other for whatever reason. Boy was I wrong. This story personally opened my eyes to what war really is; insanity.
    Ishmael's story is a gruesome and real biography of the Sierra Leone civil war, and about himself. This book is littered with gruesome details and event, such as when Ishmael writes, "One of them lay on his stomach, and his eyes were wide open and still; his insides were spilling onto the ground" (100). When I was reading this, I could visualize the man, and I felt sick inside. I also remember reading about another extreme event, "We were now in a midst of student protestors on a street lined with tall buildings. A chopper had been cycling above started to descend and move towards the crowd. Mohamed and I knew what was going to happen. We ran for the nearest gutter and dove in. The chopper swept down to street level. As soon as it was about 25 meters from the protesters, it spun around and faced them sideways. A soldier sitting in the open side opened fire with a machine gun, mowing down the crowd" (205). This felt too surreal to be actually happening, which is how I felt during the entire novel. These quotes were not the only times that Ishmael writes about something gruesome, there are more times than I can count.
    This book is a great read, and it kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire time. But, this book is definitely not for everyone. Its gruesome details, grisly events, and strong language are not for the faint of heart. It will catch the attention of many adults and teens, not many children will find this book to their interest.

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  • Posted September 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A jarring account of war and children

    Ishmael Beah's acccount of being a boy soldier in the military conflict, rebellion, and war that struck Sierra Leone is heart wrenching. He recounts these events of his life in an open style without any flourishes of philosophizing or great analysis. It is just what it is: this is what happened, this is what we had to do, this is how it happened. The hard reality and madness of war and its effect on family and children is made clear and in quite a poignant way. It is difficult to read without being haunted by some facet of the memoir. My young niece was assigned this book in her freshman year of high school and as I read the book, I wondered what she and her classmates made of it.

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