Imagine what you were doing as a 12-year-old. Reading books, playing sports, Game Boy, Nintendo, calling friends, emailing, and scores of other things. Beah's life might have been similar to ours at one point, but quickly changed as a young boy when he became a soldier for his country. Read this truly amazing, emotional story of a young soldier's life.
— Susan, Pittsburgh
Fall '08/Winter '09 Reading Group List
“Ishmael Beah is 12 years old when all hell breaks loose in Sierra Leone in the 1990s. Families are separated, most are brutally killed, and the boys are recruited as soldiers, including, ultimately, Ishmael. Readers will come to understand how truly damaged these children are, but Beah's ability to write so eloquently is a testament to his humanity and resilience.”
— Dianne Patrick, Snowbound Books, Marquette, MI
In A Long Way Gone, Beah, now twenty-five years old, 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. This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. Children have become soldiers of choice. In the more than fifty conflicts going on worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child-soldiers. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. What is war like through the eyes of a child soldier? How does one become a killer? How does one stop? Child soldiers have been profiled by journalists, and novelists have struggled to imagine their lives. But until now, there has not been a first-person account from someone who came through this hell and survived.