ALong Way Gone Essay “The book is raw, run through withmelancholy, but so honest and longing that hundred and thousands have read it,and it’s made Beah…arguably the most read African writer in contemporaryliterature,” said Dave Eggers (Vanity Fair).
A Long Way Gone is a storyof a boy fleeing from the war in Sierra Leone who has gone through unthinkablethings. Through the help of rehabilitation and hope, Ishmael regained hishumanity and was able to share his mesmerizing story with thousands of people. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah is animportant work of art to read and should be added to high school curriculums becauseit teaches about the brutality of the war, it emphasizes how child soldiers inSierra Leone are treated, and it shows the importance of family.
Throughout Ishmael’s journey, readershave been educated about the brutal circumstances of the war. When Ishmael wasjust twelve years old he was affected by the Civil War in Sierra Leone. It was quite literally at his doorstep sincethe Rebels traveled from village to village killing everyone they saw. Once youwere touched by the war you were a long way gone from going back. “The childrenof these families wouldn’t look at us, and they jumped at the sound of choppingwood or as stones landed on the tin roofs flung by children hunting birds withslingshot” (Beah 5). Just like that in one day, these child’s innocence wastaken from them.
Imagine a little childgoing to school and just like any day was excited to go back home and tell hisfamily about what he did that day. Although due to the war he never went backhome, he never got to see his family again, and never got to be a child again.However, not only were the children affected by the brutality but, “…we saw aman run from the driver’s seat to the sidewalk where he vomited blood. His armwas bleeding.
When he stopped vomiting, he began to cry. It was the first timeI had seen a grown man cry like a child, and I felt a sting in my heart” (Beah12). The circumstances were heartbreakingyet the ruthless acts kept going on. “Blood was running down her dress anddripping behind her, making a trail. Her child had been shot dead as she ranfor her life. Luckily for her, the bullet didn’t go through the baby’s body”(Beah 13). The consequences of the warare beyond understanding, and just reading about the horrendous massacre has expressedthe circumstances that the people of Sierra Leone had to deal with.
In addition, Ishmael Beah emphasizesthe heart-breaking truth about how the children of Sierra Leone have survivedby becoming child soldiers and how little awareness is brought to it. Manychildren were forced and brainwashed into becoming child soldiers and wereexposed to death every day. “I had never held a gun that long before and itfrightened me. The closest thing to it had been a toy gun made out of bamboowhen I was seven” (Beah 111). It’s breathtaking how children so young whoprobably had never even touched or even seen a gun now had their livesdepending on them. “Blood poured out of the bullet holes in him like waterrushing through newly opened tributaries. His eyes were wide open; he stillheld his gun” (Beah 118). The child soldiers survived horrors like seeing theirfriends getting shot by bullets and even having to kill others in order to savethemselves.
William Boyd makes a good point when he points out that, “Perhapsthis is the first time that a child soldier has been able to give literaryvoice to one of the most distressing phenomena of the late 20th century” (NewYork Times). Although Ishmael has gone through a lot, by sharing his story he hasbrought awareness to this issue. Moreover, in A Long Way Gone Ishmael shows the importance of family. Forexample, “…I could visualize my father holding his hard hat and running backhome from work, and my mother, weeping and running to my little brother’sschool” (Beah 11). As Ishmael dwells in the thoughts of what his family must begoing through it make readers understand the importance of family and how familyis a blessing.
Ishmael at one point in his journey also understands thesignificance of others when, “The most difficult part of being in the forestwas the loneliness. It became unbearable each day” (Beah 52). When Beah is inthe forest, his solidarity takes a toll on him and he appreciates the truemeaning of family. Since family was so important to Ishmael, even though he couldbe with his actual family he made a new family, who were the other soldiers. “Thevillages that we captured and turned into our bases as we went along and theforest that we slept in became my home. My squad was my family…” (Beah 126).
Asshown in this quote, Ishmael’s army becomes his family. Ishmael had a verystrong bond with his family especially his brothers and mom. Even thoughIshmael wasn’t physically with his actual family, through his journey people likethe soldiers and Uncle Tommy got him through this tough time. Ishmael Beah, author of themesmerizing story A Long Way Gone,writes a significant saga which communicates the brutal circumstances of thewar, stresses the fact that child soldiers is an issue, and expresses howimportant family is. In other words, throughout his journey Ishmael has educatedthe readers on the ruthless conditions of the war. He informs and bringsawareness to the issue of child soldiers and expresses the importance of family.In short, A Long Way Gone is animportant work that should be read and added to high school curriculums. Works CitedBeah,Ishmael.
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of aBoy Soldier. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux,2007. Print. Boyd,William.
“Babes in Arms.” The New YorkTimes, The New York Times, 24 Feb. 2007.Magazine,Vanity Fair.
“Entertainment, Politics, and Fashion News.” Vanity Fair, 28 May 2017,