Monday, July 5, 2010


Author: Ishmael Beah
Copyright 2007
Sarah Crichton Books
Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
Hardback $ 22.00
ISBN 978-0-374-10523-5
242 pages

Children who grow up using guns, obviously are not typical in our global society today. Responsible adults everywhere try to prevent children having access to guns. How does this affect a teenager when they discover themselves in the middle of a civil war in their native country?

This is Ishmael Beah’s story of his life in Sierra Leone which begins when he joins his friends in a nearby village for a talent show where they are dancing to hip-hop. While there, their home village was attacked by a rebel army leaving few people alive.

Stranded, confused, and now homeless, the boys search for surviving members of their families while trying to keep themselves alive. Naturally, the rebels discover the boys and they are persuaded to either join the group or be killed. This begins their lives as soldiers who tend to have sociopathic leaders and are constantly controlled by fear and drug usage.

Ishmael finally finds himself with UNICEF and gradually being rehabilitated back into acceptable society.

The strength of this account is the personal voice of the author and the atrocities he witnessed. The weakness is definitely the verification and the accuracy of the events. Perhaps it was because the country was not strongly connected with technology that some of the events are confusing and seemed out of sequence.

Also, I am concerned about anyone who has killed others with no remorse and justifies the deaths because of their age, being on drugs, or the conditions of the times. I found myself interested in the story, but not trusting the author.

Overall, the book is thought-provoking. I finished the book though with more questions than answers.

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