Wednesday, May 18, 2011

a long way gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

I knew this book would be a difficult read. Not for literary difficulty, but subject difficulty. Ishmael Beah was a child living in Sierra Leon when rebels destroyed his village. For months he ran from the war, until at the age of 13, he was picked up by the army and trained to be a child soldier and taught to mercilessly kill.

Ishmael is very detailed in the horrific things he saw during this time in his life. But his story is one of triumph and perseverance. I was truly touched by this story and am glad I read it. I have heard of child soldiers before, but to read the specifics is heartbreaking.

Even more heartbreaking is the thought that this continues all over the world today. Innocence is lost, but Ishmael's story teaches that hope is not.

A gripping story of a child’s journey through hell and back.

There may be as many as 300,000 child soldiers, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s, in more than fifty conflicts around the world. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. He is one of the first to tell his story in his own words.

In A LONG WAY GONE, Beah, now twenty-six years old, tells a riveting story. At the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. Eventually released by the army and sent to a UNICEF rehabilitation center, he struggled to regain his humanity and to reenter the world of civilians, who viewed him with fear and suspicion. This is, at last, a story of redemption and hope.

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