Book Review: A Long Way Gone

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah is the true story of a man who's childhood was decimated by a brutal war. Forced to become a child soldier, the author recounts his troublesome childhood and invites us to see his rehabilitation. For that reason alone it feels odd to review the book—how can I rate someone's lived experience? The three-star rating I gave the book on goodreads is not about the content, it is about structure.

If you can read this story without your heart breaking, you have a very hard heart. I actually had to take a break from the story at the midway point (which coincidentally coincided with the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd). What really hit me hard was seeing the dates the events were happening. Mr. Beah is only 8 years older than me. I can't imagine surviving the things he witnessed, let alone being able to tell the world about it. Knowing that there are many children who have suffered this way and continue to suffer this way makes me angry that people can be so evil and that the rest of the world can sit by idly. This is most definitely an emotional read and there is quite a bit of violence described.

Structure

As I said, I can't review the content of the story because it's a man's lived experience and its such a powerful experience! I can only speak on the structuring of the book—the pace, the writing quality, etc.

One of the hardest things about reading a memior such as this is that you already know the major plot points. From the moment I started reading I knew that the idyllic childhood would be shattered by war, that he would become a child soldier, and that he would be rehabilitated. This makes it difficult to be a "page-turner" based on the plot. When you combine the fact that you know what's going to happen and the fact that its emotionally difficult, it makes for a very slow read.

The point in which Mr. Beah decided to end the story also did not feel like the end. Despite the fact that we know he's going to reach his final destination it would have been nicer to at least see him board the plane. Though, I will say that ending story the story with the scenario from his childhood was a great move. If you don't think about it deeply, it seems a little odd, but after a while you realize is sums up his view of the whole situation.

Overall, I gave the book a three star rating because I did feel like I had to push myself to finish and it didn't feel quite complete when I did finish.

Would I Recommend?

I think it is important to see the world through other people's eyes. Not only did this make me very thankful for my childhood, it made me ask what are we doing to help these children? I also ended up researching the conflict to learn more about how something like this happens. There are definitely parts of the book that are hard to read and you may have to self-motivate yourself to get through, but I recommend 100%.

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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