Friday, June 05, 2009

A LONG WAY GONE by Ishmael Beah

Please excuse the long hiatus! I am determined to get this year's list all splatted before our exciting choose-your-book-a-palooza advisory block on June 15.

A LONG WAY GONE is a wonderful memoir that will take your heart, rip it out of your chest, squish if 45 ways to Sunday, drag it in the dirt and then rinse it off and re-position it in your chest. I know, a lot of work for one thing book.

It is the story of how Ishmael was conscripted into the rebel army in Sierra Leone at 13 years old, given amphetamines and other drugs and told to kill or be killed. According to the book he lived this life for nearly 3 years before being rescued by UNICEF and eventually coming to America where he is now a graduate student and a speaker on human rights.

The book doesn't spend a lot of time on the overall political picture, but focuses more on the life of a child soldier and his long road back to humanity.

I am not a big memoir reader, nor do I read a lot about military conflict - but I was gripped by this book. My favorite memoir is A GIRL NAMED ZIPPY by Haven Kimmel which is unlike this book in every way - but tremendously funny. As far as children in peril go, you can't beat SOLD by Patricia McKormack - which was on summer reading last year.

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