A Long Way Gone
by: Ishmael Beah
I recently participated in the #DiverseAThon that was hosted from September 12th-19th. I am going to approach this review in a different manor than the many others that I have posted here on the blog before; both to discuss the issues that are covered in this book and to look at it in more than a purely objective way, though I will discuss the book's writing all the same.
This book follows the real account of Ishmael's time in Sierra Leon when he was entwined in the Civil War going on there. The book follows him as the War begins, all the way through when he leaves Sierra Leon and flees to America for safety. His story is something that is astonishing, and harrowing to all who will read it! Ishmael was only a young child, of barely ten when he was caught up in the War with the rebels, at which time he was forced to fight for ideals he did not believe in. The radicals as they were called forced Ishmael to fight alongside their men and kill countless men, women and children to propagate their ideals. This true account of a boy soldier growing up amidst the turmoil of Civil War and violence will open up your eyes to the effects of War on humanity.
Ishmael's story hit me in the stomach and turned my perspective about life in the Western World on its head! I found his bravery and matter of fact style of looking at life to be both refreshing and heart wrenching. I luckily have never gone through a hardship so grand as something like this; though by the end of his memoire I felt a pain and sickness that I have never felt before. I am sad because of the acts that have been committed to Ishmael and people of his country and to those in any war zone. While many of us can "imagine" the horrors of war, I assure you we do not capture any slight portion of its numbing and chilling effects in comparison to Beah's memoire. This memoire treats war with a certain matter of fact style that few others have been able to capture in such a heart wrenching style. Beah's style is simplistic and to the point, almost akin to good journalism without the false statements and attention grabbing key words; he tells you how things are instead of sugar coating the terrifying acts that have occurred. This style lends an air to his account of normalcy which appalled me even more than the acts themselves.
Beah is writing this memoire in a simplistic and compassionate way, recounting his time in Sierra Leon Africa during their Civil War and adding not an ounce to the story that is unnecessary. The events that are recounted throughout this story are mind-bogglingly abrasive to the psyche to even fathom that someone is capable of committing these acts, let alone become numb to their occurrence. I am obviously reacting to this harrowing story from a wealthy western nation, therefore these events will carry an immense weight in my eyes. This weight and general concern for those who have gone through the events in this book feels almost petty having not gone through something nearly as gruesomely; though after I have read Beah's memoire I have a much more humbled outlook on the life that I am fortunate enough to lead.
In general the writing was easily understood and flowed with a stream of consciousness that added greatly to the memoire's stark topics. I cannot comment about character building or plot as these horrific events were actual events in Ishmael's life, though this man has truly shown me that I have nothing to complain about in this life. He is a truly remarkable man, both for overcoming the events he did in Sierra Leone Africa as a boy soldier but also for sharing his story with the world and shedding light on this difficult subject.
Thank you, Ishmael Beah for inspiring me to be as humble and optimistic as possible regardless of the situation.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
expand your knowledge of others with this book; you will not be disappointed.