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A Long Way Gone

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Vanessa McKay

on 14 June 2016

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Transcript of A Long Way Gone

Memoirs of a boy soldier
A Long Way Gone
Ishmael Beah
This book is a memoir of a boy soldier. It is written by Ishmael Beah, recounting his time in the Sierra Leone Civil War.
A Long Way Gone
Survival
: This theme is important to the book because everything revolves around surviving. Ishmael was thrown into a war he was scared of and didn't understand, and was expected to survive through it alone. This theme is in every chapter of the book; do what you need to live.
Block off memories
Don't think, just do
Keep moving
Do what you're told
Steal food
Lose everything
Themes
Writing Style
Ishmael Beah
Ishmael Beah
He was born in Bonthe District, Sierra Leone on November 23, 1980.
Ishmael grew up during the Sierra Leone Civil War.
He spoke at the United Nations in 1996.
This started his journey to becoming a human rights activist.
In 1998, he moved to New York to complete his education.
In 2004, he graduated from Oberlin College with a bachelor of arts in political science.
Ishmael Beah:
He is the main character of the book, written from his perspective. He grew up in a Sierra Leone with his brothers and mother. Due to the war, he was separated from his family and friends. He was recruited by the Sierra Leone Armed Forces at a young age. A few years later, he was rehabilitated by UNICEF. He went on to live with extended family, finally moving to New York at the end of the book.
Characters
Ishmael Beah -
Work
Published "A Long Way Gone" in 2007.
Forgiveness
: To survive, you need to forgive; forgive others, forgive yourself. Ishmael committed multiple atrocities, yet, he is still happy. He was able to forgive himself for what he did and turned it into something more than torturous memories. Ishmael is a human rights activist today; without his horrible experiences, he wouldn't be able to help the kids he is helping now. This book taught forgiveness by showing Ishmael's life. He doesn't punish himself for what he did; he has forgiven himself and done something great.
Themes
Human Rights
: This book is a great book to build a starting block for learning about human rights and human rights violations. This book makes the readers think about human rights during war, especially about child soldiers. It is a book that inspires and motivates the readers to want to do
something
about this issue.
Themes
I felt the book captured what it would be like surviving a war very well. It focused on emotions, as well as on minor details that made the events more realistic. The characters were all very real and I was able to sympathies with them. Some memoirs might not be very realistic, but this was not the case with "A Long Way Gone."
While reading the book, I got haunting feelings and was horrified. I experienced emotions that Ishmael was writing about, which just shows how deep of a connection the writing style allows.
Analysis
The only negative thing I have to say about the book is the fact that I felt like some events were brushed over. There were some events that I would have liked more detail, or I would have liked more pages on. I would have liked more details, but I believe the brief memories added to the book as a whole.
Analysis
Ishmael Beah -
Advocacy - United Nations
In 1996, he presented to the UN on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children.
In 2000, a the UN Special Session of Children, he spoke at the panel "Reclaiming Our Children: The UN Responds to the Plight of the Child Soldier."
He is a member of the Human Rights Watch Children's Rights Division Advisory Committee.
Ishmael Beah -
Written Work Today
He's a New York Times bestselling author for both of his books.
"A Long Way Gone" has been published in over 40 languages!
Time Magazine named "A Long Way Gone" #3 best nonfiction book of 2007.
In 2007, he was nominated for a Quill Award - Best Debut Author.
Ishmael Beah -
Advocacy Today
In 2007, he was appointed UNICEF's first Advocate for Children Affected by War.
He founded the Ishmael Beah Foundation in 2007.
He co-founded the Network of Young People Affected by War in 2008.
He is the vice-chair of Narrative 4.
Ishmael Beah Foundation
Ishmael founded the foundation in 2007.
The goal of the organization is the help children that have been affected by war go through the transition from a war-torn home to society.
This organization has helped over 150 children.
Narrative 4
This organization focuses on healing through artistic means (writing, music, painting, etc.)
Narrative 4 is lead by inspirational authors, artists and leaders.
Network of Young People Affected by War
In 2008, the Network of Young People Affected (NYPAW) by War was founded.
This organization focuses on advocating and educating people about children in war zones.
Another mission of theirs is to provide these children with role models to follow and look up to.
Ishmael Beah -
Personal Life
He lives in New York City.

Ishmael has a wife and a child.
References
http://www.ishmaelbeah.com/work/author/
http://www.ishmaelbeah.com/work/activist/
http://www.alongwaygone.com/
http://www.unicef.org/people/people_47890.html
http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/304/media/images/54461000/jpg/_54461107_sierra_ruf_afp.jpg
http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1375931548l/17910107.jpg
http://howafrica.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Map-of-Africa.gif
http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/cia15/sierra_leone_sm_2015.gif
http://kmalongwaygone.weebly.com/uploads/2/7/9/1/27914869/6885373_orig.jpg

Uncle Tommy
: Ishmael's father's brother. Ishmael goes to live with him, his wife, and three kids after rehabilitation. He accepts Ishmael's past and views him as his son. He dies from sickness at the end of the book.
Other characters:
Sallay
(aunt),
Allie
(cousin).
Laura Simms
: She is involved with the United Nations and is the highlight of Ishmael's trip to New York in 1996. Sh is a storyteller that knows stories from Ishmael's culture. She adopts Ishmael after he escapes Sierra Leone and flees to America.
Characters - Family, Postwar
Esther
: The nurse from the rehabilitation center. She is very important to Ishmael's recovery, as she brought his humanity back and taught him how to love and accept happiness.
Mambu
: Is another boy soldier, whom Ishmael met in rehabilitation. He returned to war after his family rejected him.
Mohamed
: Ishmael's best friend from home, whom he is reunited with in rehabilitation.
Characters - Friends, Rehabilitation

Talloi
,
Gibrilla
,
Kaloko
, and
Khalilou
are all boys that travel with Ishmael and Junior when they first leave their village and are on the run from the war. They are in search of shelter, food, safety, hope, and their families. They are all separated after the attack in Kamator.
Characters - Friends, Hometown
Kanei
,
Musa
,
Saidu
,
Jumah
,
Moriba
, and
Alhaji
are all boys from Mattru Jong that Ishmael met after he was separated from his original friend group.
Saidu is the first one of the group to pass away. The cause of death is believed to be a diseased bird he ate earlier.
Musa and Moriba are killed during the time in the army.
Jumah was assigned to a different squad, so his status is unknown.
Kanei was in the squad with Alhaji and Ishmael, but his status is unknown due to the fact both Alhaji and Ishmael are taken away for rehabilitation.
Characters - Friends, During War
Junior Beah:
Junior is Ishmael's older brother, which he has a close relationship with. They are initially running from the war together, along with some friends, but get separated.
Mother
: There is another strong relationship seen between Ishmael and his mother. She taught him how to cook and how to love.
Father
: Ishmael and his father have a strained relationship, due to the fact that he has a new relationship with another woman. Even though this relationship is strained, Ishmael still cares.
Other family members:
Ibrahim
(younger brother),
Grandmother
.
Characters - Family, Prewar
Ishmael, Junior, Talloi, Gibrilla, Kaloko, and Khalilou are traveling to a neighboring village for a rap competition. There is an attack and they are separated from their families. They begin to travel from village to village to look for their families and survive.
Ishmael, Junior, Talloi, Gibrilla, Kaloko, and Khalilou have many troubles on their journey. They are almost recruited by RUF, are involved with many raids and attacks, and, eventually, are separated.
Ishmael is isolated in hiding in
the woods for a month.
Ishmael meets Kanei, Musa, Saidu, Jumah, Moriba, and Alhaji. They begin their travels to a rumored safe place. They fight for their survival on their journey. They almost starve, deal with the deaths of their families and friends, are recruited by SLAF, and lose their humanities. The friends that survive are in the army for three years, being involved in multiple
attacks and battles.
Ishmael and Alhaji are rescued by UNICEF and are taken to a rehabilitation center. They meet up with new friends and begin to heal. They regain their humanities and begin to forgive themselves.
Ishmael is adopted by Uncle Tommy and begins a new life. He is asked to speak at the UN, which is the an important moment that leads to a life in America. Uncle Tommy dies when Ishmael returns to Freetown.
Ishmael escape Freetown and begins his new life in America with Laura Simms.

Plot Summary
Ishmael Beah - Work
Published his second book "Radiance of Tomorrow" in 2014.
Not as well known, but critically acclaimed.
"A Long Way Gone" follows the story of Ishmael from the start of the war and the invasion of the R.U.F., to time he has escaped to New York. Between these two events, Ishmael is on the run and in hiding, lost, recruited as a boy soldier, rehabilitated, and attempting to move on with his life.
A Long Way Gone
SLAF
= Sierra Leone Armed Forces

R.U.F.
= Revolutionary United Front

UN
= United Nations

UNICEF
= United Nations Children's Emergency Fund
This book had an amazing writing style.
Point of view
made the readers feel like they were experiencing events alongside Ishmael
Point of view
also gave a deeper understanding of child soldier
The
target audience
was very wide; the book was appropriate for young teens to read, but would not be boring for adults either.
I believe the book left out some gory details of war to keep it appropriate for younger ages.
There was a focus on
emotions
to keep events realistic.
For example, there was a three year skip that I felt indifferent about.
During this time, Ishmael was heavily involved with the war, as he was a child soldier at the time. Some of his friends died that were merely mentioned.
In this instance, I would have liked to read about events, not just a summary of the events, but I believe this adds to the book. Skipping time and not focusing on events really showed that Ishmael was not 100% there all of the time. He was addicted to substances, which blurred his thoughts. He was not focused on his feelings and memories during this time. This was portrayed well in the book.
Analysis
This book was amazing! It is a truly inspiring book that is easy to understand for many ages. The characters were easy to relate to and sympathies with. This book opens your eyes to the issue of child soldiers in an easy to understand way. The book was a very emotional impacting read. I made a connection with the book, as I'm sure many others have around the world.
Personal Reaction
Notes:
Boys are under 18
Witnessed death and brutality
Never will see their families again
Notes:
They are nearly forced to kill each other.
Now, Ishmael is alone with his thoughts.
He has witnessed terrible acts, which the memories are all he has left to keep him company in the forest.
Notes:
These boys were minutes away from rejoining their families, but witnessed an attack on their village instead.
Watched their families and neighbors die
Witnessed a neighbor die in their arms.
They were forced on drugs, which they got addicted to.
ex. cocaine and
"brown-brown"
Notes:
Ishmael didn't want to go with the UNICEF workers
He felt at home in the army; he was angry and felt betrayed that SLAF gave him up.
They are paired with RUF child soldiers at rehabilitation center originally
They are brainwashed to kill
Attack other boys and
workers
Freetown is attacked by RUF, bringing Ishmael back to the war.
Note:
Even when he thinks that he is safe and free from war, he is brought right back
He claims he might not be able to survive living in violence again
RUF blow up banks for money, rape and murder civilians, etc.
There is fear that some of his old friends in the army will
recognize him and
pressure him to rejoin.
Note:
He escapes using illegal methods
Ishmael arrives at the Sierra Leone embassy in Guinea
Now considered a war refugee
Ishmael's story shows that you can have an awful life and witness terrible things, but still do good. You can make your life more than what your environment was.
It is hinted throughout the book that Laura ends up adopting Ishmael.
Forgive and forget??
Full transcript