A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (Prebound)
Fall '08/Winter '09 Reading Group List
“Ishmael Beah is 12 years old when all hell breaks loose in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. Families are separated, most are brutally killed, and the boys are recruited as soldiers, including, ultimately, Ishmael. Readers will come to understand how truly damaged these children are, but Beah's ability to write so eloquently is a testament to his humanity and resilience.”
— Dianne Patrick, Snowbound Books, Marquette, MI
""My new friends have begun to suspect I haven't told them the full story of my life.
"Why did you leave Sierra Leone?"
"Because there is a war."
"You mean, you saw people running around with guns and shooting each other?"
"Yes, all the time."
"Cool.""You should tell us about it sometime."
This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them.
What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.
In "A Long Way Gone," Beah, now twenty-five years old, tells a riveting story: how 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. This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty.