Abby and I were wandering the halls of the Miami international airport, our last stop before boarding a plane to Haiti. We had a bit of a layover, and I really wanted to find something worth reading. I perused the bookstore for quite a bit of time, hoping to find something cheery and uplifting. I knew I was headed to a county that had been devastated by January’s earthquake, so I didn’t want something that was super serious or a “downer” by any means.


With those search criteria in mind, I came across “A Long Way Gone: memoirs of a boy soldier,” by Ishmael Beah. How’s THAT for a light read? I held on to that book for a while as I tried to find something “lighter,” but nothing else really caught my attention, and I really had been wanting to read this book for a while. So the memoirs of a boy soldier it would be.

I’m a little torn on my review of this book. I think it gives a good account of what children soldiers have to go through, how they get where they are, and how they’re able to carry out the orders they’re given (which I know I didn’t really understand before reading this book). The book gives a good first account of someone who has had to live through horrific and terrifying scenes, scenes which most of us can never even imagine.

I think my only criticism is that the author is simply telling his story, and I was wanting to read something “more.” The author’s purpose is to tell his story, not necessarily to win a Nobel Prize in Literature. He’s not concerned with the flow of the book, or embellishments, or making sure things sound good, he is concerned with letting the world know what he had to live through. I think the book is exactly what you expect, and not much more. Like I mentioned before, it wasn’t quite the book I was in the mood for, but I’m still glad I read it. It’s a good read, especially if you’ve never read or heard about children soldiers, but in the words of a good friend, it’s “not overly insightful or surprising.” I would still give this book a read if you’re in the right mood for it.
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