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A Long Way Gone: Chapter 21 and Conclusion October 27, 2007

Posted by Michelle in A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael B.


1. Michelle - October 27, 2007

Agh. I had thought it was over. I thought he was out of the woods and was going to receive an offer to come to the states. I was so sad when the war caught up with him. Sad that, instead, he had to escape to NYC.

I was in college at this time, running track with a guy from Sierra Leone. I had no idea. Shamefully ignorant. This book provokes me to keep track of the world news today so that I’m not being ‘educated’ by a book or movie 5 years after the fact.

If you haven’t already, I’d encourage all of you to do some research on the Darfur Conflict and the genocide that is presently going on in Sudan.

I’ve been planing to read Blood Diamonds by Greg Campbell if anyone is interested on joining me. It may be a good followup to A Long Way Gone as many of the smuggled diamonds originate in Sierra Leone. It should fill in some of the political reasons for the rebellion.

On a lighter note, I’m also affected by the number of people that loved on, believed in, and card for Ishmael. He surely wouldn’t have gotten to where he is today without each of them. I’m so glad he is still in touch with some of his childhood friends.

2. heatherelle - October 28, 2007

I thought the same thing, Michelle! I wasn’t expecting him to get caught back up in war; it had seemed as though Freetown was immune to the fighting taking place in other parts of the country.

When he talked about the children at school being afraid of him because they’d found out they were child soldiers, it made me think about my prejudice toward those who have served time. I know you can’t be totally naive and you need to protect your family, but I can definitely have an arms-length mentality which is not very Christlike. Ishmael is so eager to leave the past behind, but it haunts him: “We had not only lost our childhood in the war but our lives had been tainted by the same experiences that still caused us great pain and sadness.”

Can you imagine living in a country where coups like this are the norm? Where prisoners are released and the new government arms them on their way out the door? I admire Ishmael’s resolve to leave Sierra Leone so that he’s not drawn back into the war. It seems like it would have been so easy for him to jump back into his old life when the fighting began in the city.

I wasn’t ready for this book to end when it did! I wanted to hear the story of how he finally made it to America and came to live with Laura. I felt like it ended before I really knew he was safe, even though we know he’s safe because he was able to write this book! Still, I would have liked to have heard the rest of the story. He is an amazingly resilient young man. He’s a year older than my youngest brother, but what a completely different life experience he’s had, compared to the typical young American man. It’s great to see how he’s using his testimony to work for children’s rights around the world.

3. bethany3boys - October 30, 2007

Well, I caught up and read the whole book in two days on Vacation. HEE HEE. Now I have to go back and discuss with you all. I too wasn’t ready for it to end like it did. I was expecting him to take us along on his journey to NYC and how all of that happened.

Michelle, I too was pretty ignorant about Sierra Leone at the time. I met some kids from there in Russia when I was there in 92. I also went to college with several and remember them in the foreign students group (I participated with)…but like you I had no idea and never even thought to ask. It is pretty shameful. Our media is partly to blame giving more air time to Brittany’s latest then what is REALLY going on in the world.

I would love to read the next book with you…Blood Diamonds.

4. catherine - November 1, 2007

Meesh, GREAT point about being provoked to keep up with current events. I’ve found myself reading news reports in more detail after reading this book – it really personalizes all the many news reports coming out of the Congo, Sudan and Uganda. I am also provoked to pray more.

I totally agree with Heather – I want to hear more of Beah’s story!

And Blood Diamonds sounds great. I am learning so much about my very own continent here – it’s great!

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