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A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Ishmael Beah

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,045281893 (4.02)1 / 233
Member:monnibo
Title:A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
Authors:Ishmael Beah
Info:Douglas & McIntryre (2008), Edition: Reprint, Paperback
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:read-not-owned

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A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah (2007)

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Summary: A true story of Ishmael Beah, the author, who becomes an unwilling boy soldier during the civil war in Sierra Leone. When Ishmael is twelve years old his village is attacked, leaving Ishmael, his brother and his friends wander from village to village in search of food and shelter, finding themselves doing things they would never have imagined to fight for survival. He is eventually enlisted as a solider by the army and begins his journey of being capable of horrible violence. He becomes brainwashed by the army, who he now considers family and to hide emotions and to get the courage to fight he finds himself addicted to a variety of drugs. He continues as a solider until his Lieutenant turns all the boy soldiers over to UNICEF. From the Ishmael is taken to a rehabilitation center, and from the love and compassion of a nurse named Esther, he eventually forgives himself for his past actions. After leaving the center, he is again welcomed with support, kindness, and love by his extended family in Freetown. As he develops the courage and encouragement to tell his story to the United Nations he discovers that other children have gone through similar experiences as him. He meets Laura Simms, his future foster mom, and recognizes the importance of sharing his experiences with the world. He returns to Sierra Leone, but his experiences and the war he has been avoiding catch up to him. He escapes to a neighboring town and eventually makes his way to the United States to begin a new life.

Personal Response: A riveting story of a child of twelve years old being picked up by the army to perform horrendous acts of violence and his experiences of being capable of terrible acts to starting over and creating a new life. This story is heartbreaking but tells the truth of Ishmael’s experiences as a child solider during the civil war. He tells the story with truth, strength, and compassion.

Curriculum Connections: This book can be used in a high school Language Arts curriculum when learning about non-fiction stories of the experiences of the author. It can also be used in a Social Studies classroom when learning about different countries, their struggles and the wars that go on in those countries. It can also be used to study child soldiers and the struggles children face around the world. This book may inspire high school students to make a difference, help people around the world, and get involved within the community. ( )
  ftakahashi | Mar 5, 2017 |
To be honest, I wasn't able to finish this book. I got about halfway through but the violence in it was too much to stomach. I feel so bad for what he went through, I can't even fathom it. What I did read was well written and I'm sure if I would have been able to finish it I would have given it four or five stars. ( )
  Gaiagirlie | Jan 12, 2017 |
autobiography/memoir. It's touching ( )
  NicolineA | Jan 12, 2017 |
Devastating account of Beah's experiences as a child soldier in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. ( )
  jalbacutler | Jan 10, 2017 |
School Library Journal (April 1, 2007)

This gripping story by a children's-rights advocate recounts his experiences as a boy growing up in Sierra Leone in the 1990s, during one of the most brutal and violent civil wars in recent history. Beah, a boy equally thrilled by causing mischief as by memorizing passages from Shakespeare and dance moves from hip-hop videos, was a typical precocious 12-year-old. But rebel forces destroyed his childhood innocence when they hit his village, driving him to leave his home and travel the arid deserts and jungles of Africa. After several months of struggle, he was recruited by the national army, made a full soldier and learned to shoot an AK-47, and hated everyone who came up against the rebels. The first two thirds of his memoir are frightening: how easy it is for a normal boy to transform into someone as addicted to killing as he is to the cocaine that the army makes readily available. But an abrupt change occurred a few years later when agents from the United Nations pulled him out of the army and placed him in a rehabilitation center. Anger and hate slowly faded away, and readers see the first glimmers of Beah's work as an advocate. Told in a conversational, accessible style, this powerful record of war ends as a beacon to all teens experiencing violence around them by showing them that there are other ways to survive than by adding to the chaos.-Matthew L. Moffett, Pohick Regional Library, Burke, VA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
( )
  jothebookgirl | Jan 3, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 281 (next | show all)
Summary: A true story of Ishmael Beah, the author, who becomes an unwilling boy soldier during the civil war in Sierra Leone. When Ishmael is twelve years old his village is attacked, leaving Ishmael, his brother and his friends wander from village to village in search of food and shelter, finding themselves doing things they would never have imagined to fight for survival. He is eventually enlisted as a solider by the army and begins his journey of being capable of horrible violence. He becomes brainwashed by the army, who he now considers family and to hide emotions and to get the courage to fight he finds himself addicted to a variety of drugs. He continues as a solider until his Lieutenant turns all the boy soldiers over to UNICEF. From the Ishmael is taken to a rehabilitation center, and from the love and compassion of a nurse named Esther, he eventually forgives himself for his past actions. After leaving the center, he is again welcomed with support, kindness, and love by his extended family in Freetown. As he develops the courage and encouragement to tell his story to the United Nations he discovers that other children have gone through similar experiences as him. He meets Laura Simms, his future foster mom, and recognizes the importance of sharing his experiences with the world. He returns to Sierra Leone, but his experiences and the war he has been avoiding catch up to him. He escapes to a neighboring town and eventually makes his way to the United States to begin a new life.

Personal Response: A riveting story of a child of twelve years old being picked up by the army to perform horrendous acts of violence and his experiences of being capable of terrible acts to starting over and creating a new life. This story is heartbreaking but tells the truth of Ishmael’s experiences as a child solider during the civil war. He tells the story with truth, strength, and compassion.

Curriculum Connections: This book can be used in a high school Language Arts curriculum when learning about non-fiction stories of the experiences of the author. It can also be used in a Social Studies classroom when learning about different countries, their struggles and the wars that go on in those countries. It can also be used to study child soldiers and the struggles children face around the world. This book may inspire high school students to make a difference, help people around the world, and get involved within the community.
 
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Epigraph
Dedication
To the memories of Nya Nje, Nya Keke, Nya Ndig-ge isa, and Kaynya. Your spririts and presence within me give me strength to carry on,

to all the children of Sierra Leone who were robbed of their childhoods,

and to the memory of Walter (Wally) Scheuer for his generous and compassionate heart and for teaching me the etiquette of being a gentleman
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My high school friends have begun to suspect I haven't told them the full story of my life.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Disturbing, but powerful book that deals with the horrible effects of violence and desperation. The author was lucky to be chosen to be "rehabilitated", but so many others were not. It actually seems like a miracle that he could be rehabilitated- his mentors showed incredible persistence in the face of extreme resistance. The memoir also demonstrates the power of the group to influence the behavior of the individual. It staggers the mind to try to grasp how much effort it would take to rehabilitate all the violent members of the world.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0374531269, Paperback)

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.

"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.'
I smile a little.
'You should tell us about it sometime.'
'Yes, sometime.'"

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:22 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A human rights activist offers a firsthand account of war from the perspective of a former child soldier, detailing the violent civil war that wracked his native Sierra Leone and the government forces that transformed a gentle young boy into a killer as a member of the army.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 13 descriptions

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