Review: A Long Way Gone

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

2007; Sarah Chrichton Books

This is a first person account of a childhood in Sierra Leone that is disrupted by violent civil war, not once, but twice.  Beah gives graphic descriptions of acts committed by child soldiers while we are observers to actions taken not for a cause, but for survival.  By changing individuals in the country, war changes the country itself.  Everything becomes a long way gone.  Beah uses touchstones such as rap music, storytelling and caring, well trained adults to keep himself sane and whole.  In telling this story, his innocence remains while we readers become quite aware of a darker side of humanity.