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A Long Way Gone: Chapters 19-20 October 27, 2007

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


1. Michelle - October 27, 2007

” Mambu went back to the front lines because his family refused to take him in.” What?! How crushing that they rejected him, but why didn’t the school find him a foster home? I can’t believe that they would put all that effort into rehabilitating him then send him back. How much worse for poor Mambu.

Ishmael is so cute in his trip to NYC. His first experience with the snow, cold, food, radiators are adorable.
My brother and I grew up in Japan. We’d seen snow on TV and were always asking my dad to make it snow. The first time we flew back to the states in happened to be in the middle of a blizzard in Michigan. We stepped off the plane into the snow – Ecstatic! Until we touched it that is. My brother, with a shocked expression on his face, told my mom “It’s cold?!”. I suppose they forgot to tell us that part. We both immediately wanted to go back to Japan. hehe.

I also thought Ishmael’s uncles reaction to the NY trip was fun. He seems so light hearted, even in his response to finding that that Ishmael really did go to NY.

2. heatherelle - October 28, 2007

Loved your snow story, Michelle! My kids always say that they wish all snow was like the snow at Disney World — snow without the cold, in the form of foamy bubbles!

It was comical that Ishmael’s uncle didn’t believe he was really going to NYC, even when he was standing there with his suitcase in hand! I was a bit miffed that Dr. Tamba didn’t see to it that Ishmael had a winter coat for his trip to NY. What’s up with that? It wasn’t HIS first time in the city, so you’d think he would have known to provide coats for those boys!!

It was funny to see things Americans take for granted through the eyes of these boys… the huge video billboards in Times Square — “One of the screens had a woman and a man in their underwear; I guess they were showing it off.” … the ice skating at Rockefeller Plaze — “They kept going around and around, and Madoka and I couldn’t understand why they enjoyed this.”

What a grown-up perspective he has on the evils of revenge: “What I have learned from my experiences is that revenge is not good. I joined the army to avenge the deaths of my family and to survive, but I’ve come to learn that if I am going to take revenge, in that process I will kill another person whose family will want revenge; then revenge and revenge and revenge will never come to an end…”

What a fun trip he had, and yet what a bittersweet ending: “I was sad to leave, but I was also pleased to have met people outside of Sierra Leone. Because if I was to get killed upon my return, I knew that a memory of my existence was alive somewhere in the world.”

3. bethany3boys - October 30, 2007

Heather I love the two quotes you picked from the book. Those really stood out to me too. How many other Children like Ishmael are there to whom there is no memory of their existence. Makes me want to cry. I am sure for every Ishmael there are at least 3 or more who don’t have a happy ending. Who have no one left to mourn their loss or death.

His perspective on revenge is also so good. Having lived a life of revenge and seeing really what it leads to. It really shows how bitterness and not forgiving just leads one down a path or more heartache.

I also really enjoyed his first trip to NYC. The uncle WAS hilarious. He really didn’t believe it!! I can’t believe the sponsor didn’t buy them some winter clothes knowing where they were going. That was kind of funny to me. Because didn’t they take them out to buy clothing for the trip? I thought I remembered that happening. Silly.

I need to look back I think it was in the chapters before this but and if so sorry but the elevator thing cracked me up!!!!!!!

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