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A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
A Long Way Gone Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
Author: Ishmael Beah
In A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah tells a riveting story: how at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he'd been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. — My new friends have begun to suspect ...  more »
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ISBN-13: 9780374531263
ISBN-10: 0374531269
Publication Date: 8/5/2008
Pages: 240
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.

4 stars, based on 191 ratings
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review

Top Member Book Reviews

candieb avatar reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 239 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 16
This book cut deep, very few books make me want to cry, throw things and feel disgusted all at once. You can't help but feel sorry for the author, he lost everything, his family, friends, home... you can't help but cry at the images of these people being killed, the descriptions of what went on in his area of the country. And you can't help but be angry at the author when he describes killing someone, almost gleefully - yet... you have to remind yourself that he was 12. He was really given no real choice other than death for himself. This story pulled me in and in the end, I felt sad for him now, he's still only 25 or so, the horror he must relive... I just cannot imagine.

I hope there is a second memoir. I was disappointed that we didn't find out how he got out of Guinea to the United States and how he got through the next 6 years of his life.
redhedM avatar reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
I found this book hard to put down since I kept waiting for things to improve for Ishmael. The end was so simple that I felt a bit let down but this is a memoir and real life rarely results in a nice, little package. His accounts of wartime actions were honest and to the point which included many horrific killings. I did not find it excessively violent but rather descriptive enough that you could understand his life during that time. I would love to hear more about Ishmael's transition to life in America which I am sure was extremely difficult. Another great book to read if you like a child's perspective on wartime is "First They killed my Father."
GeniusJen avatar reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 5322 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Reviewed by Rachel - The Class for

Imagine, you live in a village; you know, the ones without electricity and plumbing? You get water from the river for your mother so she can cook dinner but, when you come back, the village is ablaze and everyone is running. Not just running in one direction but everywhere; screaming, yelling, falling down dead.

This is what causes Ishmael Beah's childhood to be lost.

Beah starts out as a quiet, peace-loving boy who suddenly is on the run from all the destruction and terror with his older brother, Junior, and some friends. After months of wandering on paths and in the forest, they come to a farm outside of a village. Beah finds out his family is in the village and as a group they start walking. Then the rebels attack and his family is dead.

Torn, tired, and angry, Beah will eventually lose everything he cared about; his family, his health (both mentally and physically), and almost his life. As a boy soldier recruited by the Sierra Leone Army he changes drastically. Drugs, energy stimulants, and other illegal acts (in the United States) cause him to kill without thinking, never even cringing at the sight of death and basically causing him to feel almost inhuman.

A LONG WAY GONE is Ishmael Beah's memoir based on his experiences and the tragic events of his life. I loved this book because it was a huge eye-opener about the war in Sierra Leone and how it affected everyone, even children. I also believe that everyone should read this book at least once in their life time. Maybe then people can help those who have become boy soldiers or anyone affected by a war. Maybe A LONG WAY GONE could change the world, make it a more peaceful place; that is what I hope can happen.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 48 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
It is out of character for me to pick up something as deep as this book - I'm strictly a fiction kind of gal, but I was compelled to read this story. It was very emotionally difficult to get through, but I am so glad that I did. Read about the life of Ishmael Bael in the civil war of Sierra Leone touched me deeply, as well as opened my eyes to the trials facing children in other areas of the world. It is well worth the detour from my typical fiction books. I've bought the book for family members since. Highly recommend.
animlgrl avatar reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 84 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I would agree that this book is slightly overrated, HOWEVER, it is still good. The timeline was interesting, especially to me to compare what I was doing in my life while this poor 13 year old boy was made to carry an AK47, slit peoples' throats, and stab people as torture. How he came out normal enough to live in New York and write a book and graduate college I will never know. No one should have to endure the loss and attrocities he's had to, and many of his friends did as well. He's extremely lucky to be alive.
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reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on
This book offers a haunting, first-hand account of a boy soldier who was ripped from the life he knew in Sierra Leon and forced to fight for what he was brainwashed to believe was right. His story starts when he was 12, living with his parents and chronicles all the way up until he is living in the United States, free from such physical anguish, but still suffering from such extreme loss. This is the type of story you read about in the newspapers but never hear firsthand. I highly suggest this book - the next time I think I'm having a bad day because my car won't start, etc. I'll remember what a first world problem that is.
jahzara avatar reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on
I could not put this book down. Every time I did, I kept coming back to it, reading it in hopes of finding hope. Hard to take in what he went through, but it has a powerful and moving ending. Makes you realize that if he can overcome his hardships, you can overcome your own.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 2 more book reviews
Remarkable story of a teen's attempt to escape from civil war, participation as a child soldier, and eventual rehabilitation. Not particularly well written but still a tale that needs to be read.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on
How Ishmael Beah survived his time as a child soldier is beyond me. This is a touching and important memoir and sheds light on the huge human rights tragedy of child soldiering.
SteveTheDM avatar reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 204 more book reviews
My daughter is about to start Freshman year in high school, and this memoir was one of the choices for the pre-freshman summer reading assignment. She chose it, and I managed to steal it away early in the summer before she started it as well.

So: this is the memoir of a (now 20-something) child soldier from Sierra Leone, describing the terror of his village being overrun by rebels, captured and turned into a soldier himself by government forces, and then his eventual rehabilitation after he was taken from the army by UNESCO.

Frankly, the picture he paints is a frightening one. It seems as though the drugs the soldiers are given work wonders to increase their feelings of immortality, and there never really was a clear feeling that *anyone* knew why any of this fighting was going on (other than as a method to supply ammunition and food).

I'd like to think that the world is past this kind of horror, but the reality is I think the world as it is now actually *enables* this kind of soldiering. A frightening thought.

The book isn't for everyone (though clearly the school thinks it's find for high school kids). Nothing is too terribly graphic, but "stuff" happens all the same.

4 of 5 stars.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on
A compelling story that will increase your appreciation of the blessings in your life as well as your desire to help others.