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Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah
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Radiance of Tomorrow (2014)

by Ishmael Beah

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For the people of Sierra Leone the last few decades have been horrific, the war has demolished villages, killed many people and sent others to makeshift displacement camps. Now at last the war is over, and the people of Impari are returning to their village, to the only place they know as home. At first it is just two elders who find few houses standing and many, many dead bodies. They have no idea how many of the villagers survived, even those of their own families. More and more arrive, almost daily and they slowly start rebuilding their homes, their lives and their traditions.

So this novel exemplifies the adaptability of the people, as a mine moves in and starts mining routine and while it provides jobs, it takes away more than it gives. Once again the people must adapt, until that is no longe3r possible. It is a novel of home, of reclaiming and trying to hold on to what one values.

I loved these people, all of the villager, the elders, the children, the school teachers who must make an unbearable choice. My favorite though, was a young man called :"The Colonel" who is not willing to let injustices go by, but uses any means at his disposal to right a wrong.

The prose is lyrical in cadence, many of the sentences have a musicality to them that is beautiful.
For example, "Again," Bockarie pointed his ruler at the boy, whose voice the wind carried until the appointed time when nature began its call for the departure of that day's blues sky," There are many sentences such as this one.

It shows us the importance of storytelling, which keeps the past alive, but also teaches. When the people do not survive, the story does. It showing town caught in the middle of progress, not even supported by their own government.

One can look at this as a book that says progress is bad, the west is the enemy, with their quest to make money, and maybe to a point it is, but life must progress, people must adapt. This happens in many, many, places all throughout time and will continue to do so So in the final part of the book, we see will survive the changes and go on and who could not and The Colonel makes his last appearance. Ultimately one cannot always live in the same place, the same life but they can always take a part of it with them

For me, this was a very memorable read. ( )
  Beamis12 | Mar 15, 2014 |
Ishmael Beah is the child soldier from Sierra Leone who wrote A Long Way Gone, a memoir of his early life. He came to the U.S. in 1997, at age 17, and graduated from Oberlin College in 2004. He is now married, lives in New York City and serves as a UNICEF Ambassador and Advocate for Children Affected by War, a member of the Human Rights Watch Children's Rights Advisory Committee, and president of his own foundation which is "dedicated to helping children and youth affected by war reintegrate into society and improve their lives. The Foundation aims at creating and financing educational and vocational opportunities for children and youth who have been affected by war, so that they can be empowered to choose a life free of conflict."

Radiance of Tomorrow is Mr. Beah's first novel. It is begins in Imperi, a small village in Sierra Leone which has been destroyed by the war. All of the residents have either fled or been killed. As the book begins people start returning, first some elders then families and children who have no parents. All have lost loved ones, some have fought in the war, some have had their hands or arms cut off, one has been forced to maim others. They begin to rebuild not only the village but also their lives, sharing their meager resources and reestablishing community. But the people have changed and the world outside the village has changed. A foreign mining company moves in, causing perhaps the biggest challenge to the villagers yet.

Radiance of Tomorrow is not only a compelling story, it is written in language that is often poetical. Mr. Beah chose to incorporate the cadences and figurative imagery of his native language into the book. His sun and earth are animate forces. The wind has moods.

...She sat on the ground, allowing the night's breeze to soothe her face and her pain, to dry her tears. When she was a child her grandmother told her that at the quietest hours of the night, God and gods would wave their hands through the breeze to wipe just a few things off the face of the earth so that it would be able to accommodate the following day....

I learned that you are not free until you stop others from making you feel worthless Because if you do not, you will eventually accept that you are worthless.

This is a beautiful, gripping book. ( )
  RebaRelishesReading | Mar 11, 2014 |
While some of the transitions were abrupt, especially in the beginning, this is really beautiful storytelling. The inclusion of tradition, mythology and the be lyrical traditional phrases really helped tell this story. The book didn't close with a happy ending, but it was a hopeful ending. I really loved the main family in the book, and I appreciate the telling of such an important story. A good read! ( )
  BreanneG | Feb 18, 2014 |
In the aftermath of the eleven year civil war in Sierra Leon that ended, at least officially, in 2002 the surviving residents of the small village of Imperi slowly make their way back home. But home is now a place of burned houses and painful memories, the elders are the first to arrive, and then the families with children born in refugee camps who have never seen Imperi before, and then the children who no longer have parents. Many of those returning are missing family members. Many are missing hands and limbs. One of them, as a child soldier had been force to cut off the hands of one of the returning families. He desperately desires to make amends to them. Can the village recover? Will they be able to regain their way of life even when a new foreign owned strip mine begins its operations nearby?

Speaking before members of the American Library Association on January 25, 2014, the author, who lives in New York, describes himself as “a Sierra Leonean with American tendencies.” He noted that in the former British Colony, a precise command of the English language is considered by many Sierra Leoneans to be a competitive intellectual sport. But in his novel, he had deliberately adapted many native linguistic idioms into his English prose. He also wanted to show the generational differences that that the civil war had caused, between traditional village life and the experience of the young who had either known only the war or, if younger, knew little about it because their elders did not want to bring up painful memories.

The book which is written in flawless prose, certainly achieves those goals, but the overwhelming impression I gained from the book was of its struggling inhabitants being continually knocked down by economic and political forces that were completely beyond their control and struggling valiantly against psychological defeat. Beah’s novel is much like a shorter Les Misérables, without the direct political commentary or The Grapes of Wrath. ( )
  MaowangVater | Feb 2, 2014 |
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For Priscilla, my wife, best friend, and soul mate. Thank you for infusing my life with love and joy that I never knew existed.
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She was the first to arrive where it seemed the wind no longer exhaled.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374246025, Hardcover)

A haunting, beautiful first novel by the bestselling author of A Long Way Gone

When Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone was published in 2007, it soared to the top of bestseller lists, becoming an instant classic: a harrowing account of Sierra Leone’s civil war and the fate of child soldiers that “everyone in the world should read” (The Washington Post). Now Beah, whom Dave Eggers has called “arguably the most read African writer in contemporary literature,” has returned with his first novel, an affecting, tender parable about postwar life in Sierra Leone.
     At the center of Radiance of Tomorrow are Benjamin and Bockarie, two longtime friends who return to their hometown, Imperi, after the civil war. The village is in ruins, the ground covered in bones. As more villagers begin to come back, Benjamin and Bockarie try to forge a new community by taking up their former posts as teachers, but they’re beset by obstacles: a scarcity of food; a rash of murders, thievery, rape, and retaliation; and the depredations of a foreign mining company intent on sullying the town’s water supply and blocking its paths with electric wires. As Benjamin and Bockarie search for a way to restore order, they’re forced to reckon with the uncertainty of their past and future alike.
     With the gentle lyricism of a dream and the moral clarity of a fable, Radiance of Tomorrow is a powerful novel about preserving what means the most to us, even in uncertain times.

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 08 Nov 2013 19:08:13 -0500)

"In the aftermath of the war in Sierra Leone, a village comes together to regain the beauty of life as it was in the past"--

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