A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah | Teen Ink

A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah MAG

November 8, 2011
By slash.mustaine BRONZE, Littleton, Colorado
slash.mustaine BRONZE, Littleton, Colorado
2 articles 0 photos 0 comments

A Long Way Gone is a captivating memoir by Ishmael Beah, who describes his early years as a boy soldier during the civil war in his homeland, Sierra Leone. He chronicles his life with superb detail and powerful emotions. I feel so lucky after reading about Beah's experiences. At the same time, it angers me that such atrocities are happening around the world. The hardships in my life pale in comparison to what Beah and others like him have gone through. This book is a wake-up call to the world as one of the only first-person ­accounts of children fighting
in wars.

The detail here makes the story truly remarkable. Beah describes his teen years as though they were yesterday; he remembers things like the logo on the sneakers he was given when he became a soldier. There are, of course, some vague passages and slight gaps in the story, but the rest is more than sufficient to get the point across.

Descriptions of what it was like for Beah to kill people, his army brainwashing, and his difficult rehabilitation make the book unique. I felt a connection to Beah after reading this book, even though I have no idea what it's like to be a soldier, let alone kill someone.

Beah was my age when he had to kill to survive; I cannot even begin to imagine what I would do in that situation. A Long Way Gone allowed me to glimpse the horror, despite having no real knowledge of war. I felt what Beah felt as I read his words; it was truly amazing.

This book sends an important message that must not be ignored. War is terrible enough without children fighting in it as well. A Long Way Gone is not just about the Sierra Leonean civil war, but the trials children and adults face when enduring war. At times I found it slightly confusing why events were happening, but that seemed unimportant compared to Beah's life struggles: surviving the war, fighting while being drugged by his recruiters, recovering from the war, and escaping it. Beah has led an ­extraordinary life, and it's a miracle that he lived to tell about it.

The author's comments:
Written for English class.

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