Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Book Review: A Long Way Gone

There are some books that you read and they really stick with you. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah is certainly one of those books. In it the author details his life growing up in Sierra Leone in the 1990's.

Starting when he was 12 a bloddy civil war between the government and rebels forced him out of his village and separated him from his family. For months he and other refugees try to find a safe place away from all of the fighting to live safely and try to reconnect with his lost family. Then he is conscripted into the Sierra Leone Army where he is brainwashed and addicted to drugs all to make him a better solidier. For two years he lives in a constant state of kill or be killed without really knowing the true reasons behind the conflict.

Finally at 15, he is rescued in the form of being sent to a UNICEF transistion center. This is where the child soldiers are integrated back into normal life. He is sent to live with an uncle he doesn't know and all is good for a short time until strife comes to the capital. At this point Beah decides to flee to America.

Luckily he is adopted by Laura Simms, a woman he had met a year earlier when he participated in a Children of War conference at the UN. Now Mr. Beah has graduated from college with a degree in politics and is a human rights activist.

I listened to the audio book version of the text ready by the author himself. His lilting voice and matter of fact manner in describing all sorts of horrors he's seen and committed certainly added to the gravity of the subject matter. It is hard to imagine a situation like this with my comfy North American life experiences.

This book is rated a solid buy and it will bring you tears on more than one occassion.

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