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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

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A Long Way Gone reveals war terrors

Wars on distant continents seem much farther than they truly are. The well-being of teenagers never seem to rely on the outcome of a war in another country. Yet this story brings the affects of war close to home.

As a teenager, Ishmael Beah lived in the war-torn Sierra Leone, Africa, where he watched his village burn to the ground as his family and friends were killed by vicious rebels. At the age of twelve, he fled his village, Mogbwemo.

Beah wrote the story of his time in Sierra Leone, relating the bloody horrors he experienced in A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier. The book centers on the events of Sierra Leone’s civil war in the 1990s and Beah’s personal journey.

At the age of thirteen, the government recruits Beah and his friends to fight the rebels. Driven with anger and hatred towards the trigger-happy rebels, Beah kills them without remorse. He and the other soldiers, many of whom are children like him, trek across the country with AK-47s and bayonets draped over their shoulders.

A Long Way Gone is a grisly tale, not only because of the graphic scenes depicted from Ishmael Beah’s memory, but because Beah himself truly becomes apart of the horror, much like the rebels he despises. The story is gory and descriptive, allowing readers a small glimpse into the terrible situations of children caught in the midst of combat.

Before they fight, the soldiers find ways to pump up their adrenaline. They take pills of cocaine mixed with gunpowder and smoke marijuana, which “puts them on top of the world.”

Beah, along with his friends, are picked up by a United Nations Children’s Fund-related rehabilitation center for child soldiers three years later. There, he slowly begins to recover and realizes the true terror of his actions. He currently resides in New York City.

A Long Way Gone is haunting, yet extremely inspiring. Beah is the first to relate the true story of children recruited as soldiers. Though much of his time as a soldier is lightly skipped over, the reader still gets a sense of extreme sadness beneath Beah’s armor of loathing for the rebels.

Beah’s story is gripping and will leave an impression of sorrow along with exultation at his ability to portray the violence through his writing. The book is his first and by far the best biography that has been released this year.

Due to graphic and violent content, use caution before reading Beah’s biography. A Long Way Gone is available at bookstores for about $22.

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    Melanie NachtigallAug 26, 2009 at 11:27 am

    Emily has been such an amazing offensive threat this year , her speed and fast break layups allow us to take the lead in many games.

    She is also a great defender, we can always depend on her to shut down the opposing teams’ leading scorers.