domingo, 25 de março de 2012

A Long Way Gone - Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

This book is a good wakeup call for those who see only their little tree instead of noticing there is actually a whole forest surrounding us. It is one of those books that not everyone will be able to read until the end because of the truth it tells and that truth is pretty strong. This book is about a boy called Ishmael who led a happy and good life with his family and friends - a boy who enjoyed Shakespeare, school, rap and hip hop moves. And yet from one day to the other his life is shattered in a million pieces. He is forced to flee his little village and wander around in search of his family (whom he is separated from when the rebels attack). Unfortunately his search ends when he discovers that his whole family was killed - burnt to ashes in a little hut. And so he joins six other boys now in search of nothing more than survival. They find this survival in joining the army as boy soldiers as they know there is no way out. It is the only way to be able to get food not to say the feeling they have of "being part of something" and being able to "revenge their families." The army leaders keep these boys constantly on all kinds of drugs and brainwash them to kill sparing not even women or children. He admits to committing all kinds of atrocities and says he has no idea how many people he has killed. After two years as a child soldier, by some kind of a miracle he ends up in a rehabilitation center and that is when his life starts to change for the better. Now he lives in New York with his adoptive family and tells his true and heart wrenching story which I believe all should hear: it is an eye opener and makes you grateful for all you have in your life. If you have enough guts and can stand a hard read, do so! Read it!

Here are some of my favorite personal quotes of this book:

"We must strive to be like the moon." An old man in Kabati repeated this sentence often to people who walked past his house on their way to the river to fetch water, to hunt, to tap palm wine; and to their farms.
I remember asking my grandmother what the old man meant. She explained that the adage served to remind people to always be on their best behavior and to be good to others.
She said that people complain when there is too much sun and it gets unbearably hot, and also when it rains too much or when it is cold. But, she said, no one grumbles when the moon shines.
Everyone becomes happy and appreciates the moon in their own special way. Children watch their shadows and play in its light, people gather at the square to tell stories and dance through the night. a lot of happy things happen when the moon shines. These are some of the reasons why we should want to be like the moon."
" When I was very little, my father used to say. "If you are alive, there is
hope for a better day and something good to happen. If there is nothing good
left in the destiny of a person, he or she will die." I thought about these
words during my journey, and they kept me moving even I didnt know where I was
going. Those words became the vehicle that drove my spirit forward and made it
stay alive."

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier  
A Long Way Gone.jpg
A Long Way Gone first edition cover.
Author(s)Ishmael Beah
Cover artistJennifer Carrow,Michael Kamber(photograph)
CountryUnited States
Subject(s)History, Civil War
PublisherSarah Crichton Books
Publication dateFebruary 13, 2007
Media typePrint (Hardcover andPaperback)
Audio CD
Pages240 pp (first edition)
ISBNISBN 978-0-374-10523-5
OCLC Number69423270
Dewey Decimal966.404 B 22
LC ClassificationDT516.828.B43 A3 2007
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier is a memoir written by Ishmael Beah. Published in 2007, this book provides a firsthand account of the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone and the ongoing plight of child soldiers in conflicts worldwide.[1] Ishmael Beah was forced to run away from attacking rebels in Sierra Leone at the young age of 12. He was then forever separated from his direct family. He wandered his war-filled country and was then forced to join an army unit where they brainwashed him into believing in only large guns and blood. By thirteen, he had experienced incidents that others may not have to deal with throughout their entire lives. At the age of 16 however, he was removed from the unit by the UNICEF and was given a chance to be forgiven and to be loved once more. With the help of some of the staff he was able to forgive himself for everything he had done and to finally move on. He was then given a chance to teach others about the hell he was forced to be put through called war. He traveled the United States teaching people about the devastating and unforgettable things that he was forced to encounter and the things that millions of kids all over the world still have to encounter today.



[edit]Main character list

Ishmael Beah: The main character of the book. Ishmael was a child soldier for the Sierra Leone Armed Forces. His parents and brother were killed by theRevolutionary United Front, or RUF. After being rescued by UNICEF and rehabilitated, he went to live with his Uncle Tommy. While there, he was recruited to travel to the United States to speak at a United Nations event about child soldiers. Returning to Freetown after his speaking event, he eventually made his way back to the United States. As a result of time, he was able to forgive himself and love once again.
Junior: Junior is Ishmael’s older brother by a year. Ishmael and Junior are separated while running from the RUF. Later in the book, Ishmael learns that his brother had escaped and was in the next village with the rest of his immediate family. Junior apparently left to find Ishmael out of guilt, but returned back a week prior. However, on his way to the village to be reunited with his family, Ishmael hears the RUF attacking the village. Though Junior's body or that of his parents and younger brother is not found among the dead, it is assumed that Junior was killed by the RUF.
Alhaji: Alhaji is one of Ishmael’s closest friends. Alhaji was part of the group of boys from Mattru Jong that Ishmael met in the wilderness. Alhaji and Ishmael formed a close bond during their years as soldiers, and were part of the same squad. Alhaji was nicknamed "Rambo" for his combat skills that were heavily influenced by the film. Alhaji and Ishmael were eventually taken by UNICEF and put into a rehabilitation shelter in Freetown. He apparently moves from foster home to foster home following the events of the book.
Kanei, Musa, Saidu, Jumah, and Moriba: Ishmael’s friends from his home village that he meets in the wilderness after being separated from his initial group. Saidu is the first of the group to die. He dies suddenly two nights after he and the other boys eat a crow that fell from the sky. Kanei is the oldest of the group by 3 years, although Alhaji is confused as being older because he is taller. He becomes junior sergeant, and later is chosen to stay behind because he is older while Alhaji and Ishmael are sent to rehabilitation. It is unknown what happens to him. Musa is the group's storyteller; he is killed in the first battle that Ishmael and his squad fight in. Jumah and Moriba also become part of the army. Jumah is assigned to another squad in a different village, and is last seen preparing for another village raid. Moriba is killed in a fight some time during Ishmael's time as a soldier, however, his death is not thought much about.
Talloi, Gibrilla, Kaloko, and Khalilou: Ishmael's initial travelling companions. Talloi is Junior's friend and follows them to Mattru Jong for the contest. The three meet up with old friends, Gibrilla, Kaloko, and Khalilou there. They escape the attack of Mattru Jong by RUF forces, but are later split apart by another attack in a different village. Ishmael found Kaloko hiding as well, but Beah subsequently left him once he grew tired of hiding, and Kaloko was unwilling to follow him. It is unknown what happened to the four boys.
Uncle Tommy: Uncle Tommy becomes Ishmael’s foster parent after he leaves the shelter. Uncle Tommy has three kids and a wife, all of whom welcome Ishmael as their new brother. Uncle Tommy is a carpenter. They all love Ishmael irrevocably, and unconditionally. Uncle Tommy and his wife are the only ones who know about Ishmael's past. However, they forgive him and take him in as their own son right away. Ishmael truly feels like he belongs when he is with them. Uncle Tommy later dies of sickness.
Esther: Esther is a nurse at the shelter that Ishmael develops a friendship with. Ishmael tells parts of his war stories and dreams to Esther, and soon comes to fully trust her. Esther gives Ishmael a Walkman with a RUN-D.M.C casette and later buys him a Bob Marley cassette. Esther does regular check-ups on the mental health of Ishmael during his time being rehabilitated at Benin Home. Ishmael admits that he loves her, but never sees her again after he leaves Freetown.
Mambu: Mambu, another child soldier who was with the Sierra Leone Armed Forces. Mambu and Ishmael meet at the shelter for the first time. They become close friends. He later goes back to the front lines after his family rejects taking him in.
Mohamed: Mohamed is Ishmael’s best friend from his home village that he is reunited with when he is placed in the UNICEF rehabilitation centre where Ishmael has already been for several months. Mohamed was meant to go with Ishmael to the talent show in the beginning of the story, but had to stay behind to help his father work.

[edit]Plot summary

The book starts with Ishmael, his older brother Junior, and their friend Talloi traveling from their village of Mogwembo to Mattru Jong in order to perform in a talent show. Ishmael, Junior, and their friend dance and sing rap music. Thinking that they would return the day after, they tell no one of their leaving. During their stay in Mattru Jong with Gibrilla, Khalilou, and Kaloko, the RUF attacks. The three are able to flee the village without the rebels following them. They decide to head back home. On their way back home, it turns out that their village was also captured by the RUF. According to an old man who was sitting outside the village, most of the people fled to a village on the Sierra Leone coast. Ishmael, Junior, and their friend decide to travel there in order to locate their family. On their way to the village, they stop by multiple other villages. They are accepted into another village on the grounds that they help with the farming. After months, the village is attacked. Caught by surprise, Ishmael, Junior, and their friend split up and run into the swamps. It is unknown what happens to his friends afterwards. Ishmael roams around the wilderness by himself for a while until he meets up with another group of traveling boys whom he recognized from his home village. The boys then travel together to another village on the coast. Many refugees fled to this village because the Sierra Leone Armed Forces occupied it. In search of safety, the group of boys and Ishmael go to that village, but soon leave. Ishmael then learns from a woman from his hometown that Junior, his younger brother Ibrahim, and his parents are safe in another village with many others from Mattru Jong. Just before they reach the village, the boys meet a man named Gasemu that Ishmael knew from Mattru Jong. He tells them that his family are indeed safe in the village, and ask the boys to help him carry bananas back to the village. However, moments before they reach the town, it is attacked by the RUF. Although their bodies are not found among the dead or in the burning house where they lived, Ishmael assumes that his family is dead. Devastated, and believing that Gasemu is to blame for him not being able to see his family on time, Ishmael attacks Gasemu but is stopped by the other boys. They are then chased into the forest by remaining RUF soldiers, and Gasemu dies from being shot, leaving Ishmael more saddened. The boys then settle into another village protected by the army. After many uneventful days, the lieutenant in charge of the troops in the village announced that the RUF is beginning to assault the village. The lieutenant said that in order for the people to survive they must contribute to the war effort by enlisting in the army, escape was not an option. By doing this, the lieutenant secures many child soldiers, the weapon of choice for both the RUF and the Sierra Leone Armed Forces. Ishmael becomes a junior lieutenant for his skill in executing prisoners of war and is put in charge of a small group of other child soldiers. As a child soldier Ishmael is exposed to extreme violence and drug usage. The drugs he used are described in the book as “brown brown”, “white pills”, and marijuana. In January 1996, during one of the roll calls, a group of men wearing UNICEF shirts round up several boys and takes them to a shelter in the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown, where he and several other child soldiers are to be rehabilitated. However, the children cause much trouble for the volunteer staffers at the facility, with Ishmael experiencing symptoms of drug withdrawal as well as troubling memories of his time as a child soldier. Despite the violence caused by the children, one of the staffers, Nurse Esther, becomes interested in Ishmael, learning about his childhood love of rap music and purchasing him a rap cassette and Walkman when she takes Ishmael and his friend Alhaji to the city. It is through this connection and his numerous counseling experiences with Esther that Ishmael eventually turns away from his violent self and starts to heal from his mental wounds. Eventually, Ishmael becomes adopted by one of his uncles in the city and settles down with him and his family on the outskirts of Freetown. It is during this time that Ishmael is chosen to speak to the UN in New York about his experiences as a child soldier and the other problems plaguing his country.While at the UN meeting in New York Ishmael met several other children who were also experiencing problems in their countries. There were 57 children present at the meeting and each of them told their story to the UN. He also meets Laura Simms, a storyteller chaperone to Ishmael and his future foster mother. However, in 1996 when Ishmael returns to Sierra Leone, Freetown is invaded by a combination of the RUF and the Sierra Leonean government army, causing many civilian deaths including the passing away of his uncle from malady. Believing that he can no longer stay in Freetown for fear of becoming a soldier again or for being killed by his former army friends if he refused, Ishmael decides to get in contact with Laura Simms, and then escapes Sierra Leone and crosses the border into Guinea, where he eventually makes his way to the United States and his new life abroad.[2]

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