Study Guide: A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah: Book Summary|
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FREE STUDY GUIDE: A LONG WAY GONE - ISHMAEL BEAH
This true story involves the life of Ishmael Beah who lives a fairly
happy life in Sierra Leone until civil war breaks out. Then, like other
civilians, he is forced to run for his life, becoming separated from his
family and later losing them to murder by the rebels. He later finds a
way to be rehabilitated and regain his childhood. He once again learns
how to love.
The first and most important theme is War is Hell. Although this is
an overworked phrase, it fits this narrative perfectly. The horrors and
tragedy that Ishmael relates to the reader are almost unbelievable. The
atrocities committed against innocent civilians give new meaning to the
idea of war as well.
The second theme is: There is always Hope. In spite of all the terrible
events in Ishmael’s life, he finds a way to overcome everything and find
love again and meaning to his existence again. Also, with the work he
begins at the UN, we can hope that other children will not be subjected
in the future to the tragedy he had to endure.
A final theme tells us when everything else disappears, there is always
love. Ishmael learns this the hard way. He has a kind of family unit with
the soldiers that actually carries over into the love and friendship between
him and Alhaji. Then, there is the love of Uncle Tommy and his family
and their willingness to make Ishmael a son and a brother. Finally, there
is the love of people like Esther and Laura who accept him unconditionally
and welcome him into their homes when he most needed help and love.
The mood is mostly one of horror and fear throughout as Ishmael makes
his way through war. However, it becomes uplifting and hopeful when he
is successful in finding peace.
Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone on November 23, 1980. He moved
to the United States in 1998 and finished his last two years of high school
at the United Nations International School in New York. He graduated from
Oberlin College in 2004 with a degree in Politics. He is a member of the
Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division Advisory Committee and has
spoken before the Council on Foreign Relations, the Center for Emerging
Threats and Opportunities (CETO) at the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory,
and many other NGO panels on children affected by war. He has also spoken
before the United Nations on several occasions. His work has appeared
in Vespertine Press and LIT magazine. He lives in New York
A Long Way Gone was named one of the Top 10 Nonfiction books of 2007
by Time Magazine.
It was nominated for a Quill Award in the Best Debut Author category in 2007.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on A Long Way Gone".
. 10 May 2008