Thursday, August 28, 2014

Around the World in Books: A Long Way Gone

Do y'all remember a while back when I posted about joining some other blogger's in an Around the World in Books Reading Challenge?  Well, today I am back to post about the first book I read for the challenge!

I'd been wanting to read this book for quite some time. Back when it came out I was insanely busy with life in general and it went by the wayside. However, when this challenge came up it was the first book that popped into my head. I think this happened for a couple of reasons:
  1. I find memoirs to be very captivating
  2. The story of a child soldier is one I feel needs to be told and understood so it can hopefully be prevented
  3. The setting is unique: Sierra Leone 
However, once I began reading the book my heart went out to Ishmael. You see, Ishmael and I are the same age. Seriously, he was born just days after I was born.

So, this book completely put my childhood into perspective:
  • When I was fretting over cowlick not cooperating on picture day in 7th and cut it off, he was running from insurgents.
  • I was wielding a curling iron while he was wielding a gun.
  • When I was out school shopping and then not wanting to wear certain clothes I'd bought because they weren't what everyone else was wearing, Ishmael was trying to keep the clothes on his back that he'd had for years clean.
  • When I complained about going to school, all he wanted to do was go to school.
  • When I refused to eat under-cooked steak as my mom "mooed" Ishmael was undergoing reintegration into civilian society.
These things really spoke to me. Do I feel guilty for them, no, and I shouldn't because we were born into two completely different situations. I will say though, this book has made me more grateful than ever for those opportunities I did have and regardless of how silly they seem now, I am happy I got to experience those situations.

A few things from the book that really spoke to me:

"That night for the first time in my life I realized that it is the physical presence of people and their spirits that gives a town life." Chapter 3, page 29
Yes, yes it is . When we were in Orlando back in 2004 or so when a hurricane basically hit the city head on which really shouldn't have happened and people were out of their homes for weeks and weeks we actually found it difficult to sleep at night knowing our neighbours weren't fact, at one point we decided to head back to our parents house on the weekend because it was just too weird without people. So, I could only image crouch in a home where an entire village has fled because they are afraid of the people who may come to "recruit" them to their cause.

Page 54
I loved this page because these kids were finally seeing some normalcy in their lives. Even though they weren't with their families they were being treated like family and had even gotten to a point with others where they could joke around!
I also found it humorous here that even though he grew up with so much less than I did, compared to others in his country he was "soft" so to speak! He didn't have the skills needed to survive in a town other than the one he grew up in-attending school and having his needs attended to!

I think this is a fantastic book and recommend everyone read it! It is a short, quick read only being 200 some odd pages. I am even making my teenager read it. I think she will thoroughly enjoy it as she is the age of Ishmael in the books. 
The writing isn't totally fluid, but as a reader you can sort of see his thought process as he wrote. The other thing I didn't like was he didn't elaborate the ending and I had to search online to find out more about his adult, that sounded super creepy! ha!

So, on that note, I will leave you to go buy this book and enjoy it.

1 comment:

  1. Just read this as a part of the challenge: Thanks for the recommendation!!!