Book Reviews of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
A Long Way Gone Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
Author: Ishmael Beah
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ISBN-13: 9780374105235
ISBN-10: 0374105235
Publication Date: 2/13/2007
Pages: 240
Rating:
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 295

4 stars, based on 295 ratings
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

48 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 239 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 16
This book cut deep, very few books make me want to cry, throw things and feel disgusted all at once. You can't help but feel sorry for the author, he lost everything, his family, friends, home... you can't help but cry at the images of these people being killed, the descriptions of what went on in his area of the country. And you can't help but be angry at the author when he describes killing someone, almost gleefully - yet... you have to remind yourself that he was 12. He was really given no real choice other than death for himself. This story pulled me in and in the end, I felt sad for him now, he's still only 25 or so, the horror he must relive... I just cannot imagine.

I hope there is a second memoir. I was disappointed that we didn't find out how he got out of Guinea to the United States and how he got through the next 6 years of his life.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 17 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 11
I found this book hard to put down since I kept waiting for things to improve for Ishmael. The end was so simple that I felt a bit let down but this is a memoir and real life rarely results in a nice, little package. His accounts of wartime actions were honest and to the point which included many horrific killings. I did not find it excessively violent but rather descriptive enough that you could understand his life during that time. I would love to hear more about Ishmael's transition to life in America which I am sure was extremely difficult. Another great book to read if you like a child's perspective on wartime is "First They killed my Father."
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 7145 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Reviewed by Rachel - The Class for TeensReadToo.com

Imagine, you live in a village; you know, the ones without electricity and plumbing? You get water from the river for your mother so she can cook dinner but, when you come back, the village is ablaze and everyone is running. Not just running in one direction but everywhere; screaming, yelling, falling down dead.

This is what causes Ishmael Beah's childhood to be lost.

Beah starts out as a quiet, peace-loving boy who suddenly is on the run from all the destruction and terror with his older brother, Junior, and some friends. After months of wandering on paths and in the forest, they come to a farm outside of a village. Beah finds out his family is in the village and as a group they start walking. Then the rebels attack and his family is dead.

Torn, tired, and angry, Beah will eventually lose everything he cared about; his family, his health (both mentally and physically), and almost his life. As a boy soldier recruited by the Sierra Leone Army he changes drastically. Drugs, energy stimulants, and other illegal acts (in the United States) cause him to kill without thinking, never even cringing at the sight of death and basically causing him to feel almost inhuman.

A LONG WAY GONE is Ishmael Beah's memoir based on his experiences and the tragic events of his life. I loved this book because it was a huge eye-opener about the war in Sierra Leone and how it affected everyone, even children. I also believe that everyone should read this book at least once in their life time. Maybe then people can help those who have become boy soldiers or anyone affected by a war. Maybe A LONG WAY GONE could change the world, make it a more peaceful place; that is what I hope can happen.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 48 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
It is out of character for me to pick up something as deep as this book - I'm strictly a fiction kind of gal, but I was compelled to read this story. It was very emotionally difficult to get through, but I am so glad that I did. Read about the life of Ishmael Bael in the civil war of Sierra Leone touched me deeply, as well as opened my eyes to the trials facing children in other areas of the world. It is well worth the detour from my typical fiction books. I've bought the book for family members since. Highly recommend.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 84 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I would agree that this book is slightly overrated, HOWEVER, it is still good. The timeline was interesting, especially to me to compare what I was doing in my life while this poor 13 year old boy was made to carry an AK47, slit peoples' throats, and stab people as torture. How he came out normal enough to live in New York and write a book and graduate college I will never know. No one should have to endure the loss and attrocities he's had to, and many of his friends did as well. He's extremely lucky to be alive.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 507 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Although the story he tells is remarkable and the author is clearly a person to be admired, I had unanswered questions after finishing this book. It seems that within a few pages the author goes from being a sociopathic yet naive killer to being a model student. I wish this book would have gotten me inside his head more during this period of time. What changes in his thoughts and heart took place? At what moment in time was he able to see the world and other people differently, and what were his feelings at the time? Despite that, this book is still worth reading because the author and his experiences are so unique.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 1106 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is the very simply told and powerful story of a boy soldier in Sierra Leone. It is honest and graphic, told in a matter-of-fact style that is more chilling and effective than any more eloquent language could have made it. It is hard to read, and made even harder because it is far too horrific a truth for any child to have lived through.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 48 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This is a haunting book that can be spellbinding. However, I would caution the squeamish and exceptionally tender-hearted reader, since it is VERY graphic and enormously sad in most of the book. I was glad to read it, and found it hard to put down. But I am recommending it only to others with the above caution.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on
Helpful Score: 2
Poignant, direct, and powerful first-hand account of the modern-day tragedy of child soldiers. The brutality is mind-numbing, the restoration genuinely astonishing. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Told in a disarmingly simple narrative, this should be mandatory reading for every American high-school student.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on
Helpful Score: 2
I just finished this book about 2 weeks ago. This book was part of my College summer reading list. I will admit I had several preconceived opinions before reading. However, I found this book to be entertaining. I rarely found a dull moment in the story. I appreciated Ishmael Beah's rendition of his childhood. He was compelling, courageous, insightful, and strategic in his quests. I found that several portions of the book were graphic, gruesome, depressing, and heartbreaking. I do hope Ishmael has found happiness now.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on
Helpful Score: 1
This was one of those books that I didn't want to put down and didn't want it to end. There are some areas that were a little too graphic for me to read as far as violence goes, so I would skip over those parts. A very good book!
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 163 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Disturbing, fascinating, true story of children caught up in the horror of a war they not only don't understand but don't want to be involved in. the authors description of brutal killing is told in a very matter of fact and calm manner which still haunts me. His is a voice that begs to be heard and listened to.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I have read the book and decided to get get another copy for my grandson. It was so touching to read. I wanted my grandson to see what life could be like for anyone just by chance of where they were born. He was adopted from an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia. Ishmael was a very brave young man who overcame much personal heartbreak. How many of us would have the courage that he did at such a young age!
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Powerful. I did not really understand all the dynamics of what is happening in that region so when I heard about it on the news it was so far-removed and kind of unbelievable, but its true. I can't imagine what these people experienced and don't pretend to know how they feel or what you would say to them because there really isnt anything you could say, it is what is. I was shocked, disgusted, horrified and amazed. These boys went through unimaginable things and for this young man to man to be ok and be able to write out his thoughts so clearly and so honestly, knowing that some people will be very uncomfortable, I congratulate him for his personal strength. I highly recommend this book. The content may be strong for some.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on
Helpful Score: 1
Heartbreaking, compelling and ultimately gratifying.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 82 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
He fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he'd been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. This is a rare and mesmerizing account, told with real literary force and heartbreaking honesty. The review couldn't of said it any better. His journey through the violence to a better life is amazing and very scary. It strikes up terrifiying emotions in the reader.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Heart breaking book! Loved it! It was sad but hopeful!
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on
Helpful Score: 1
Like most stories of war, this was very hard to read because it was so disturbing. I found it to be a very good book and well written and would recommend it if you like to read about what is really happening in the world right around us.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
The story is fascinating and terrible. But the narrator is equally terrible. I found it difficult to stay interested, solely on the basis of the truly lousy narration. The story itself--wow, what a story.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on
Helpful Score: 1
I was so excited to finally get this book and couldn't wait to start reading it. After all the awesome reviews, I knew it was going to move me.

It didn't.

I would say this is one of the most overrated, over-hyped books.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Absorbing, horrifying and engrossing. I read this book in one afternoon and it has stayed with me for months.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 270 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I can't say how awesome this book is. I have read "memoirs" before and have always been bored really quickly and don't usually finish them. This one though I was entranced and he pulled me in. Be ready though there is a lot of killing and blood shed, but it is to be expected with what he had to go through. The descriptions of the places in Africa where he went while he was in the Army were awesome. He was 13 when he entered the Army...just imagine your entire childhood whisked away like that. The ending is a positive one though. If he ever writes another book, I will be first in line to get it. I highly recommend this one and i'm only parting with it so I can help spread his word.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 51 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I am probably in the minority on this one, but I didn't really think this book was that good. It is truly terrible what Beah had to endure as a child, but I was unable to find any emotional connection with this story - I thought the writing style was very bland and boring. There was just too much hype for this one to live up to my expectations.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 222 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Compelling, eloquent writing. Heart wrenching at times. Shocking too. Ishmael Beah has overcome odds that would sink all but the most courageous.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 37 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Intesting in how quickly "lost" boys adapt to a violent life in order to survive and avenge the deaths of their families.
He briefly refers to his life after his escape from his country, but stops abruptly when he arrives in Conkary. The book feel unfinished, even if he's setting it up for part II.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
One of the best books I've ever read. The story is told beautifully and in amazing detail...it really makes you feel like you are there and can understand everything he is going through. It's a haunting story that stays with you.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This is a very thought provoking book although if you have a weak stomach for detail...beware! He is very descriptive of the violence he witnesses.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 113 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Good book. Depressing at times, and you want to put it down - but can't.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on
How Ishmael Beah survived his time as a child soldier is beyond me. This is a touching and important memoir and sheds light on the huge human rights tragedy of child soldiering.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on
A compelling story that will increase your appreciation of the blessings in your life as well as your desire to help others.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 36 more book reviews
Quick, compelling read.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 12 more book reviews
Unfortunately for all of you, I will not be posting my signed copy any time soon. I actually got to meet Ishmael Beah at a local library event. In 20 years, he was the youngest person (at age 26) to speak in this particular Distinguished Speakers Lecture Series. He stood about 5'4" and he had a smile that infects you. How could this person be the same boy in the book?

The book was wonderful. It will make you wonder what you would do to survive.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 38 more book reviews
This book sparked my attention at the bookstore, but it wasn't until my husband brought this book home that I began reading it. Some parts are so hard emotionally to get through because it is so uncomprehensible for us in today's society to imagine a child to go through what this child went through. I have a daughter the author's age and I could only compare what she would do if her life had been like his. Simply horrifying circumstances! However, again this book shows the strength of the human spirit when all hope is gone, life is threatened, and the existence of your world as you know it no longer exists. It is an atrocity that this happens in our world! However, Ishmael Baeh must be a very special young man who was "Blessed to be now a blessing to others". I am sure his experience will bring credit to his skills in working with others to stop boys from being used as soldiers.This is a great book!
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 204 more book reviews
My daughter is about to start Freshman year in high school, and this memoir was one of the choices for the pre-freshman summer reading assignment. She chose it, and I managed to steal it away early in the summer before she started it as well.

So: this is the memoir of a (now 20-something) child soldier from Sierra Leone, describing the terror of his village being overrun by rebels, captured and turned into a soldier himself by government forces, and then his eventual rehabilitation after he was taken from the army by UNESCO.

Frankly, the picture he paints is a frightening one. It seems as though the drugs the soldiers are given work wonders to increase their feelings of immortality, and there never really was a clear feeling that *anyone* knew why any of this fighting was going on (other than as a method to supply ammunition and food).

I'd like to think that the world is past this kind of horror, but the reality is I think the world as it is now actually *enables* this kind of soldiering. A frightening thought.

The book isn't for everyone (though clearly the school thinks it's find for high school kids). Nothing is too terribly graphic, but "stuff" happens all the same.

4 of 5 stars.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 3 more book reviews
The story is well written and captavating. It is amazing what this boy went through. It is an inspritional story that you can't put down.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on
A GREAT BOOK FOR ALL TO READ!
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 5 more book reviews
Great read. Wish he had gone into more detail about his actual freedom from the war torn areas but still a good read.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 569 more book reviews
An amazing story. The only thing I wondered about was the excellence of his writing. Must be a smart fellow or there is some ghost writer, except that he is able to speak in a clear manner and impresses those who listen to him.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on
This book offers a haunting, first-hand account of a boy soldier who was ripped from the life he knew in Sierra Leon and forced to fight for what he was brainwashed to believe was right. His story starts when he was 12, living with his parents and chronicles all the way up until he is living in the United States, free from such physical anguish, but still suffering from such extreme loss. This is the type of story you read about in the newspapers but never hear firsthand. I highly suggest this book - the next time I think I'm having a bad day because my car won't start, etc. I'll remember what a first world problem that is.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on
I could not put this book down. Every time I did, I kept coming back to it, reading it in hopes of finding hope. Hard to take in what he went through, but it has a powerful and moving ending. Makes you realize that if he can overcome his hardships, you can overcome your own.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 2 more book reviews
Remarkable story of a teen's attempt to escape from civil war, participation as a child soldier, and eventual rehabilitation. Not particularly well written but still a tale that needs to be read.
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Follow the life of Ishmael as he escapes civil war in his village only to end up becoming a solider for the army then on to rehab for childhood soliders. This book is tells the story of childern who get swallowed up by war and unrest. Ishael's story is also one of courage. This young man is one of the heros of our generation.
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Quite good despite rumors surrounding its validity.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 7145 more book reviews
Reviewed by Rachel - The Class for TeensReadToo.com

Imagine, you live in a village; you know, the ones without electricity and plumbing? You get water from the river for your mother so she can cook dinner but, when you come back, the village is ablaze and everyone is running. Not just running in one direction but everywhere; screaming, yelling, falling down dead.

This is what causes Ishmael Beah's childhood to be lost.

Beah starts out as a quiet, peace-loving boy who suddenly is on the run from all the destruction and terror with his older brother, Junior, and some friends. After months of wandering on paths and in the forest, they come to a farm outside of a village. Beah finds out his family is in the village and as a group they start walking. Then the rebels attack and his family is dead.

Torn, tired, and angry, Beah will eventually lose everything he cared about; his family, his health (both mentally and physically), and almost his life. As a boy soldier recruited by the Sierra Leone Army he changes drastically. Drugs, energy stimulants, and other illegal acts (in the United States) cause him to kill without thinking, never even cringing at the sight of death and basically causing him to feel almost inhuman.

A LONG WAY GONE is Ishmael Beah's memoir based on his experiences and the tragic events of his life. I loved this book because it was a huge eye-opener about the war in Sierra Leone and how it affected everyone, even children. I also believe that everyone should read this book at least once in their life time. Maybe then people can help those who have become boy soldiers or anyone affected by a war. Maybe A LONG WAY GONE could change the world, make it a more peaceful place; that is what I hope can happen.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on
Excellent! What an eye opener!
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 70 more book reviews
A decent book. The style of which the author writes this novel is great but can be a little slow at times. I got the gist of the book quite quickly and have not had the patients or heart to finish it.
reviewed A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier on + 7 more book reviews
I was really looking forward to reading this book - it wasn't worth all the hype at all!

While the story was intersting, I couldn't get into it due to the incredibly boring writing. I tried to force myself to enjoy this book, but I couldn't do it. I wish the writing had been more engaging as it could have been a great read!
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A must read.