- Published: November 21, 2022
- Updated: November 21, 2022
- University / College: Birkbeck, University of London
- Level: College
- Language: English
- Downloads: 16
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier-Review This is a fascinating memoir describing a boy’s (Beah Ishmael) survival struggle experience. He was born in Serra Leone and spent most of his childhood and teenage life in Sierra Leone country; he left to United States at the age of eighteen years. He arrived in United States in the year 1998, schooled and graduated from college in the year 2004. He then developed into an advocate of global children affected by war; he fights for the rights of children in war torn regions. A long way gone: memoirs of a boy soldier, is one of his ways in which he accomplishes his fight for the children’s rights, especially those extremely affected by wars allover the world. In this memoir, Ishmael Beah elucidates his adolescence life hood in the war torn country of Sierra Leone. He was not affected by the civil war continuance for the first twelve years of his life. At this age, twelve years, he first felt the impact of this civil war in his native country. After a successful escape, he meandered for a full year in search of his family that he was separated from. Eventually, the government army arrested him. Although the grisly incidences such as bleeding of wounds, men torture and shooting, women screaming and baby burning in the book makes it difficulty to read at times, the author’s plain honesty present the reality of the war experiences and repercussions he encountered. His accounts describe what himself and other children were coerced to do in order to survive. The author narrates his experiences with fluency without making excuses. Most memoirs appear pointless and uninspiring, but the Beah’s a long way gone, is exceptional; it is written for a purpose and with freshness. He is not amusing readers or himself in his writings; he is accomplishing what he is capable of in telling the reasons for the incidences. The author’s birth and child life in Sierra Leone was during political stability, prior to civil war and rebellion. His difficulty times started the day his buddies and him had gone to a nearby town for a music context. On the way to the contest, rebels invaded their village. They killed many residents of the village making the survivors to flee away for their lives. In the course, his family members flee and he was separated from them and the life he had been used to. He started unrest period abruptly, one of terror and near-starvation with together with his colleagues. At the beginning, they succeed to stay together. The author describes trauma and stress reactions of being separated from their beloved families. One boy is totally silent while another tells stories. One boy is afraid that he is in the course of dying one piece after the other. The author himself cannot sleep. He experiences severe headaches. He does everything possible to refrain from thinking about his family, his brother and parent; avoiding considering what might have befallen them. He struggles reasoning the occurring civil war. This is evidenced by the writings he made that he had heard from grown up people that the occurring wars was revolutionary one, bringing liberation from the famed corrupt government. He wondered what the type of liberation movement was fighting the war. It killed innocent children, civilians and raped young girls. He never lost hope. This is backed by the writing on of his father’s advice (Beah 54). One day, the rebel attack separated the group members. He fled to the forest where he survived alone for over a month. He recalls emotional and physical exhaustion during this lonely period. He was unable to understand the experiences’ psychological impact. Luckily he meets another set of boys fleeing from the rebel attacks. He wanders with the new group from one village to another, doing all in proving their innocence to the strangers and convincing them they are not threats. The army recruited boys and provided them with drugs such as cocaine in efforts to fight the rebels. The rebels were also recruiting boys for inhuman acts such as elderly enslaving, young girls raping and stealing the natives’ food and usable items. Eventually, they are found by soldiers and taken away. Through coercion, he joined the army. They were given guns and taken through rigorous and intense training. The boys were forced to witness soldiers murdering innocent residents and then instructed to perform same acts by themselves. Initially horrified by his experiences and actions, he is told by one soldier that he will get used soon as everybody else eventually does. In the army, he shot uncountable opposition men and boys. This worsens after the crush of eleven year old boy’s spine by a grenade propelled by a rocket and the shot of his friend by the name Musa. These two incidences drove out of him compunction about shooting “ moving objects”. However, he prided himself for efficiently and quickly cutting throats in the contests organized by the army officers. He holds that that these exercises inured and hardened them for perpetration of the evil acts. At the age of fifteen years, he is reluctantly rescued by the UNICEF and taken to Freetown in UN residential compound for rehabilitation. The process turns out daunting as the rehabilitee boys experience nightmares and fights among them. He says that the book’s real heroes are those who made him a human being again; his aunt, uncle and nurse, Esther. Works cited Beah, Ishmael. A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007. Print.
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