At the beginning of the book, he is a young boy whose parents are separated and loves performing rap with his elder brother and friends. After armed forced attack his home village, he, his brother, and friends are left orphans and wander around seeking shelter.
It is as if we now live in a perpetual present where memory has currency only as a means of securing social standing. It may seem strange to greet with relief a book that chronicles the brutal life of a former child soldier, but given what our society considers printworthy, it is refreshing that the memories and reflections of year-old Ishmael Beah receive attention.
Beah was a standout student called upon to recite monologues from Julius Caesar and Macbeth at gatherings of village elders, but he was also, in his own words, "a troublesome boy", often getting into schoolyard fights.
The conflict was to last through most of the s and, in common with the civil war in Liberia, became intimately linked with the use of child soldiers.
According to the United Nations, there are , if not more, child soldiers around the world. The majority of these children - some as young as six - live and fight in sub-Saharan Africaand their plight has largely been ignored by the west.
After fleeing from rebels who sacked his village, getting separated from his older brother and friends, surviving alone in the forest and evading execution, Beah - at 12 - was inducted into a government corps of boy soldiers.
He was told by a charismatic lieutenant with a fondness for Julius Ceasar: But you will not have rations and will not stay in this village This is your time to revenge the deaths of your families and make sure more children do not lose their families.
As he takes us through a life of battles, promotions and unfathomable acts of cruelty, we almost forget he is only a boy. His rehabilitation was not, and could never have been, easy. He had to overcome an addiction to drugs, sleep through nightmares of his own violence and relearn how to live in a society that was itself emotionally scarred by the war.
His writing is effective but lacks the beauty of other writers who have lived through harrowing events.
Its language is clumsy at times and some chapters flow without pause for reflection on the significance of events discussed. In telling his story of how war erodes consideration and thoughtfulness for others, Beah challenges us in the west to question our glorification of it.
But in addition to its emphasis on the beauty of human resilience and hope, a central message of A Long Way Gone is that war, hatred and violence consume everything in a society, especially children.
Feb 25, · Unusually, the smiling, open face of the author on the book jacket provides welcome and timely reassurance.
Ishmael Beah seems to prove it can .
A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah pp, Fourth Estate, £ As the media grows increasingly concerned with our private lives, and individuals in the west have come to understand that the quickest route to fame is to shamelessly reveal all, the art of the memoir has become debased.
Ishmael's writing style is very graphic; he used a lot of detail, so it made it easier for people to understand what he was talking about, and what he was going through. A Long Way Gone was written to just give people a visual of what happened to Ishmael and many others.
A Long Way Gone “A Long Way Gone”, a memoir about a Sierra Leonean young boy who is a “child of war” has many themes in the novel but what is the most important. A Long Way Gone Questions and Answers. The Question and Answer section for A Long Way Gone is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.