I first heard of this book a couple years ago when the author, Ishmael Beah, was a guest on the Daily Show With John Stewart. I typically don’t read too much non-fiction, but I was intrigued because this is a true story of real events that happened to Beah. I can remember John Stewart saying that his heart physically hurt as he read this book because the subject matter is no incredibly sad, and he was right.
Beah was born in 1980 in Sierra Leone and escaped from attacking rebels at the age of 12, which left him separated from his family. He was eventually captured by the government army and forced to be a boy solider. He describes all the events in his life in such detail, and with such honesty, you feel as though you are right there along with him. I think he did a great job of giving exposure to events that aren’t widely known by many Americans, as well as helping the reader to understand how normal, good hearted children can turn into murderers, through no fault of their own. He also shows, not only through his writing, but in his life, how boy soldiers can be rehabilitated.
Be warned that this book isn’t for the faint hearted as there is a good amount of graphic violence described. It’s also a book that will stay on your mind a long time after you read it. Beah’s writing is superb and he narrates from a perspective that will give the reader a true sense of Beah’s world before and after the war. A quick read, at only 226 pages, A Long Way Gone will definitely leave a lasting mark on you.
Buy A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah on Amazon by clicking here .