A Long Way Gone
Written By: Ishmael Beah
Reviewed By: Bryant Vo
Recommended Audience: Young Adults/ Adults
A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah, shows the young life of an African child as he is forced to overcome difficult challenges. It’s a biography that shows how people change under different circumstances. Ishmael, his brother, and a few friends learn what it is like to survive after their village has been burned down and attacked by the Revolutionary United Front. They have to learn how to face their fears, survive, and accept death.
The book starts out with Ishmael, his older brother, and their friend going to a dance competition in a nearby village. After the competition, as they return they find that their village has been burned and many people have died. The boys go on a search to find their family, so they visit other villages, but soon realize that they are not welcome. People have been terrified by the RUF and suspect that the boys are also a part of it. After many failed attempts to stay at a village, the boys get picked up by the government to join the army. After 3 years in the army ishmael becomes a savage due to the people he has killed, and all the drugs he took.
Ishmael and other boys eventually get chosen by UNICEF to move to a city and start a new life. They are stuck in a camp where they must learn to act civilized again. The boys have a harsh time learning how to become civilized because of everything they went through. Ishmael learns how to interact in a community again because of a nurse that treats him human. He then moves to Freetown, but it is not long until the army and the RUF attack it and kill many people. Ishmael doesn’t know what to do because he knows he can’t join the army life again, so he does something no one would have expected.