BOOK REVIEWS

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-12-01 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 1 user ratings
ISBN:0374531269
LANGUAGE:English

" Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone tells the story of himself, a young teen in the midst of political upheaval, where rebels everywhere are killing many of the innocent civilians of Africa. The book is set in Sierra Leone, where many African rebels were causing chaos at every town they passed by. Hoping to survive and maybe reunite with his family, Ishmael runs around Sierra Leone, where rebels hope to recruit young Africans like Ishmael himself. Ishmael wanders around Sierra Leone, examining the paranoia that the war has caused for the people, who usually are very peaceful, but at last gets caught by a rebel and forced to become a boy soldier, exposing himself to the savagery of war. The book exposes us to the savagery of war, which causes Ishmael, a previous happy-go-lucky person, into a killing machine, unappalled by the actions he does to innocent civilians.

In one memorable moment, after leaving Mattru Jong, Ishmael’s grandmother’s homeland, Ishmael and his group of friends; Junior, Mohomad, and Tulloi; all head home with news that it has been attacked. While walking the six miles home, they hear the sound of a car, believing it to be a rebel, they ide behind a bush. The vehicle stops right in front of them, and the driver vomits blood, crying at the fact that he barely survived the attacks, his arms bleeding as if he had been shot not so long ago. A woman comes, also bloody, and asks for him to stand and opens up the doors of the car, revealing the bodies of his whole family, lifeless with their blood all over the ceiling and seats. Later, a man runs with the body of his son in his arms, rushing to the nearest hospital, uttering the words, “I will get you to the hospital, my boy, and everything will be fine” repeatedly, clinging onto the false sense of hope that kept him running. Lastly, a women walks towards Ishmael with a body on her back, shot dead as the women was running away. She halts at the center of the road, removing her child, a girl with her eyes open and an interrupted innocent smile on her face. With the bullet barely sticking out of the baby, the mother clings onto her child and rocks her, unable to shed tears or utter a single word due to fear and shock.

Ultimately, the story of Ishmael is a story of the transformation of a boy, venturing away from his bare and innocent self, turning into an emotionless machine, hurting everyone and everything around him, and finally reverting back to normal through the kind care of people. It all adds up to the tale of the savagery of war, an element that can affect anyone which tells us that not only is war terrible as a whole, but terrible all the way down to the individual level. A Long Way Gone tells that very well, telling us that war causes loneliness and with loneliness comes the need to have revenge, causing people to blinded by rage.

People are apathetic to issues outside their own environment, choosing to believe that it doesn’t really affect them. A Long Way Gone shows the people what life is like for them, and how they god through ordeals and how bad their situation is and because of that, I recommend it to anyone that wants to open their eyes to problems outside their community. This book is an eye opener for it shows how horrific the war is in Africa and how it effects the person, causing Ishmael to go from a young boy who loves rap music, into a killing machine while he works for the army as a boy soldier. It shows the terrors of war and that sometimes there is no happy ever after, exemplified when Ishmael never actually reunites with his father, mother and his brother, Junior. It talks about the experiences of being a boy soldier, which introduces Ishmael to the cruel side of the world, making him execute many people and introducing him to drugs. But it also shows of how he got out of the loop, becoming his innocent self once again, with the help of a nurse and UNICEF, and spreading his story to people all over the world to make sure something is done so that no child has to go through what he went through.

From reading this book, I learned that life isn’t fair and that I should feel blessed for the childhood I have here in San Jose. People have it worse in other parts of the world, not even having enough resources to feed yourself, let alone your whole family. We’re not always under constant threat of having rebels come into our city and burning it to the ground here in San Jose, but in other parts of the world, children are growing up every day under these circumstances, living in constant fear that maybe tomorrow everything around them could gone. This book has shown me that San Jose isn’t the only city in the world and that there are other places that have it much worse, influencing me to be blessed for having a peaceful childhood, where the only fear I had was the monster under my bed, not the fear of wondering when the next meal would be.

This book made me imagine brutal things, the vivid imagery of people dying gruesome deaths, blood spattering everywhere. Countless nights after reading this book I have had these images in my dreams, with the way that Ishmael describes the events burned into my head. I was given the feeling of devastation, being happy one minute and torn with grief the next, as if I was on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. This book drew me in, placing me as Ishmael in his experiences, making me feel as if I was the one facing all of these ordeals and truly experiencing what Ishmael had to go through. It made me feel a wide array of emotions, from heartbreak to joy, laughter to sadness. Throughout all these emotions, I couldn’t put this book down, piquing my interest with every word of the book. I’ve probably read a handful of books in my life, with this one being the one that opened my eyes to the problems of the world and taught me how to be blessed for and cherish everything I have.
" said.

" The world undergoes problems, a whole load honestly. In this book light is shed on one of these problems. A problem that a part of the world might not have a clue about: the life and plight of a childsoldier. Ishmael Beah a Sierra leone boychild brings out his past in this book. the traumas he went through as a childsoldier and his eventual breakthrough.It was alot of heartgetting content in the book. Ishmael undergoes alot, the shine however fares in the end. " said.

" What an incredibly sad story. This book went full circle as it covered the life of a little boy in war-torn Sierra Leone. It starts out with him happily tucked between two families that love him, then he is ripped out of that little piece of reality . This story covers how the limits one sets for himself in life can be eroded away by life experiences that pick away at that line, blurring it, especially when survival and safety are on the line. Such tragedy. " said.

"الكتاب مؤلم جداُ و هذا طبيعي كونه يتناول مواضيع كالحرب الأهلية و تجنيد الأطفال،وما يجعل تلك المواضيع أكثر ألماً هو تناولها في قصص فردية بعيداً عن الأحصاءات.

الكتاب يعرض في البداية لصور من نشأة أسماعيل و شغفه بالمويسقى واللعب في جو أسري هادئ ،لكن تصدمه الحرب التي تفرقه عن أبويه و أخيه الأصغر و كل رفاقه بأستثناء أخيه الأكبر و أثنين من أصدقائه سيشاركونه الهرب من قرية إلى قرية تحت وطأة الحرب الأهلية و مجازرها المفجعة قبل أن يفترق عنهم مرغماُ في أحدى تلك الفاجعات،ليواصل الهرب منفرداُ مدة قصيرة قبل أن تجمعه الصدفة برفاق قدامى ليواصلوا الفرار لا من المتمردين و مجازرهم فقط بل و كذلك من الناس العادية حينما يحطون في قراهم فكما يقول أسماعيل
(the worst about civil war is that it makes every one a possible enemy even a child like me)
و لكن عندما تضعه الصدف على بعد أمتار من لقاء أسرته يفاجأ بهجوم جديد ينتزعهم من بين يديه من قبل أن يراهم...يالا عبثية الأقدار!!!

و يتواصل الهرب و تستمر المطاردة قبل أن يحظى بشئ من الأمن في قرية صغيرة تحت سيطرة مسلحين موالين للجيش لكن تأبى الأقدار أن تلين فترميهم بدفعات متوالية من المتمردين تحاول أنتزاع البلدة فيلجأ المسلحين لمنح كل ذكر في القرية السلاح ليقاتل بعد تدريب قاسي نزع من صغارهم و كبارهم كل تورع عن الدم
(visualize the enemy,the rebels who killed your parents,your family & those who are responsible for all that happened to you)
لينغمس اسماعيل و غيره من الصبية بعدها في الدم و يخوض عامين من الحروب الدموية جرفت حتى ذكرياته,ويلاحظ أن الجزء المتعلق بحياة الكاتب ككجندي هو الأصغر على الأطلاق برغم أهميته المفرطة لكن لا لوم هنا فمن مر بمثل تلك الأحداث بالتأكيد سيحاول أن يقلل الحديث فيها ما أستطاع...من منا يرغب في التفكير في الجحيم؟!!

ثم تتحسن الأحوال تدريجياُ مع أنضمام أسماعيل مجبراُ لبرنامج تأهيل تحتضنه الأمم المتحدة لأعادة تأهيل المجندين الأطفال و نخوض معه تجربة بيوت أعادة التأهيل و مأسي الذكريات و الخوف التي عاصرها هؤلاء القتلة الصغار لمسح الدم عن قلوبهم و أعطائهم الفرصة ليعودوا بشراُ من جديد.

أحد أكثر السير الذاتية التي قرأتها الماُ على الأطلاق.
" said.

" How horrific! The amount of trauma both incurred and inflicted is immeasurable. What these boys have experienced simply to have their needs met is no way to live. Ishmael is the exception not the rule. 2017 Lenten nonfiction Buddy Reading Challenge book # 37 " said.

"I listened to this on audio, and I adored the author's accent. I struggled to really emphathize with Ishmael for the first half of the book as the horrors of what was happening with him was so far removed from what I know. I can't even imagine children having to deal with these situations - as a victim, and as a perpetrator. The section that dealt with the rehabilitation of the child soldiers were my favorite section in the book. I admire the people who have the heart and the guts to do these amazing jobs. " said.

"الكتاب يجذبك من أول صفحة لآخر صفحة .. لقد صحبني الكاتب إشمائيل بيه معه في رحلته الشاقة الطويلة .. هذه الرحلة التي لن تملك سوى أن تدمع عيناك معه في بعض صفحاتها .. و بدلاً عنه في البعض الآخر !!! رحلة تأخذك لجمال طبيعة أفريقيا .. تحديداً هنا في سيراليون .. جمال أحراشها .. ونقاء أهلها .. الترابط المجتمعي المفقود في المدن الضخمة .. ثم تفاجئ معه ببدئ هجوم المتمردين و بدء الحرب .. ستُفاجئ و كأنك جزء من الحكاية في رحلة شاقة على النفس .. هذه الحرب التي تبدأ فجأة في عصر من الظلم الذي لم يكن يتصور أن يُقلب لحرب أهلية نوعاً ! .. هذا الطريق الطويل الذي سيسلكه إشمائيل حتى يُجند ثم تأخذه اليونيسيف لتعيد تأهيله ثم يعود ليسكن مع عمه بعد مقتل أسرته المباشرة كلها في الحرب، ثم ينجو فيه في النهاية و يستطيع الفرار من سيراليون بعد أن غرقت عاصمتها في الدماء .. و يتسائل في وسط رحلته لماذا يموت كل من حوله إلا هو !!! أعتقد الإجابة كانت في أنه قُدر له أن ينجو كي يكتب لنا هذا الكتاب ! هذه الرواية و هذه المذكرات !!!

ستفقه من الكتاب كم تكون ممارسات الجيش الوطنية لا أخلاقية و أنها في بعض الأحيان بل و كثيراً تشبه تصرفات المتمردين .. لتفاجئ بإنقلاب على الرئيس المنتخب يتحد فيه الجيش الوطني مع المتمردين بهذه اللا أخلاقية المشتركة و يعيثون فساداً هنا و هناك ليصل للعاصمة فريتاون بعد هذا الإنقلاب !

صياغة الكتاب ممتازة تعبيره عن المشاعر الإنسانية مرهفاً و رائعاً .. و نهاية الكتاب في نظري بهذه الحكاية الفلكلورية التي تُحكىَ في سيراليون كانت النهاية المُثلىَ ..

هناك أيضاً في آخر الكتاب جدول زمني وضعه كان فكرة رائعة للتعرف على تاريخ الصراع و بدأه و دور المجتمع الدولي متمثلاً في الأمم المتحدة و ما إلىَ ذلك.

لن أحرق الأحداث فالكتاب في نظري واجب القراءة .. فجميعنا ننسىَ أفريقيا .. نعتقد أن الشرق الأوسط و صراعه مع القوى العظمى هو مركز الكون ! و ننسىَ إخواتنا هناك في أفريقيا !!! ننسىَ هؤلاء الذين يعانون مثلنا من سطوة القوىَ العظمىَ بشكل أو بآخر أو تجاهل مقصود لهم بشكل أو بآخر !!!

هذا الكتاب حقاً مهم .. و ما حققه من شهرة عالمية أمر جيد جداً حتى تكون أفريقيا بإنقلاباتها العسكرية و ويلاتها في ذهن البعض و لو قليلاً.



أما عن ملاحظاتي و أخذي عليه فهي بسيطة و كلها متعلقة بالتدجين .. و دور اليونيسيف و الأمم المتحدة في هذه العملية .. خلق إنسان صالح في نظرهم يشرب الكوكاكولا .. يتكلم عن جميع الأديان و كل العجيب فيها دون التحيز لدينه !!! الكتاب سيشعرك بأن طرفي الحرب مخطئين دون إعطاء أي إجابات أو رأي واضح في الحادث ! (لمن مثلي لا يعرفون تاريخ الصراع في سيراليون فستستشف بعض الإجابات في النهاية من الجدول الزمني) .

عملية تدجين إشمائيل و من مثله ستفهم من جملة في بداية الكتاب و هو يشكر أحدهم قائلاً: إلىَ ذكرى والتر شوير؛ لكرمه و مشاعره المتعاطفة، و لأنه علمني أن أكون رجلاً متحضراً.
" said.

"This book is the subject of my final project for Human Development psych class, and as such I will be updating the review at a later date.

While this story is an important one, for me the book did not go deep inside the issue enough to make any real impact. I had known about child soldiers before, and I expected to read more about the psychological impact, et cetera.

I may be too hard on this, because I do not read biographies often, and whenever I read biographies from Africa, I tend to compare them to Nelson Mandela's Long Walk to Freedom.

I'll be rereading this soon to dissect the material further.
" said.

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