Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What I'm reading: A Long Way Gone

I read a lot, probably too much, if that is possible. Usually I read fiction but this summer I've been working on a lot of nonfiction. One of the books I've just finished is A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. There are parts of it that I think about over and over. It is at once gut wrenching and beautifully mesmerizing.

At age 12, Ishmael's world is overtaken by war. He was away from home to participate in a talent show is separated from his family. He begins a nightmarish journey through the land with a few other boys trying to stay away from the rebels and the government soldiers. The rebels don't try to kill just the government troops. They kill everyone, except those they conscript. Ishmael's small group of boys are looked upon with suspicion and fear by civilians they encounter. Many of the soldiers (both government and rebel) are young boys, after all, and the civilians suspect the boys may be spies.

At age thirteen he is unable to avoid conscription as a soldier by the government's army. At 16 he is rescued by UNICEF and begins a different sort of journey, one of healing. Eventually war overtakes his home once again, and he manages to escape to the United States.

Of all the things in the world that need to be fixed, the conscription of children is surely right at the top.

No comments: