I just finished reading “A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier,” by Ishmael Beah.
At the age of 12, Ishmael fled his home village in Sierra Leone as rebels attacked his home, murdered his family and sent dozens of young children fleeing into the jungle. By 13, Ishmael had been inducted into the government army where he would become a boy soldier.
It’s hard to imagine, but boy soldiers carry AK-47 assault weapons, learn to slit the enemy’s throat with a jagged bayonette and carry out war atrocities that only the most hardened veteran could understand. “A Long Way Gone” is graphic in its description of its times of war.
At 16, Ishmael is removed from the battle by a UNICEF worker. With the help of some very patient and skilled individuals, he is rehabilitated and begins his life as a spokesman against children being involved in war efforts. Today there are an estimated 300,000 child soldiers.
“A Long Way Gone” is the latest book to be endorsed and promoted by Starbucks coffee shops. And though the book is a fascinating read, it leaves you very unfulfilled at its close. It is as if the second half of the book is yet to be written . . . which is perhaps exactly what is going to happen. I found Ishmael’s story to be enlightening and educational but a bit unfinished.
The hardest question to wrestle with (should you choose to read the book), is where is God in all of this? It appears that He is “a long way gone.”
Personally, I believe we should never shy away from questions but rather wrestle with them until we have answers or are content to live with the uncertainty of the world in which we live. But in that thinking, perhaps it is I who is “a long way gone?”