A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

This memoir by Ishmael Beah is heartbreaking but inspiring at the same time. Beah gives an extremely honest account of his experiences as a child soldier during the civil war in Sierra Leone.

BeahLongWayGone was 12 years old when the civil war broke out. He and his friends left their home village in January 1993 to compete in a friends talent competition in a neighboring town. That day in January was the last time Beah saw his family.

Very quickly, the story turns to one of survival. Beah and his friends move from town to town and do everything they can to avoid being caught by the rebels. They steal food from unsuspecting villagers as they pass through or find fruit in forest.  The boys start traveling at night instead of during the day so there is less of a chance they’ll be seen.

Eventually, their luck runs out and the boys are caught by the Sierra Leone government army. At the age of 13, Beah is turned into a child soldier and begins fighting for the government against the rebels. He quickly became addicted to drugs and killing people was a daily activity.

After a few years of fighting, Beah was rescued from the army by UNICEF. They brought him to Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, where he began the long process of rehabilitation.

Beah’s story will make you thankful for all that you have in your life. It will make you sad for all of the innocent children affected by war. But most importantly, it will give you hope.

Ishmael Beah’s memoir is available for checkout at the VC/UHV Library.

Review written by Amanda B.