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Little Family

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  804 ratings  ·  181 reviews
A powerful novel about young people in a conflict-scarred land, struggling to replace the homes they have lost with the one they have created together.

Hidden away from a harsh outside world, five young people have improvised a home in an abandoned airplane, a relic of their country’s chaos. Elimane, the bookworm, is as street-smart as he is wise. Clever Khoudiemata maneuve
Hardcover, 262 pages
Published April 28th 2020 by Riverhead Books
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Average rating 3.90  · 
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 ·  804 ratings  ·  181 reviews

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Angela M
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This novel is one of the best books I’ve read this year for a number of reasons. I was sad when it ended because I didn’t want to leave these characters behind. It’s one of those books that is so beautifully written that I was compelled to reread paragraphs for the pure pleasure of reading them again. What lovely language! I woke up thinking about this story and realized how little I paid attention to the real stories of children who are displaced and struggling to survive, victims of the politi ...more
Diane S ☔
Jun 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
A family, not of blood but one put together by circumstances not in their control. They live in an abandoned airplane, in a unnamed country in Africa. How they came to be here we only learn from veiled hints throughout the story. They take care of each other, have learned to survive by shoplifting, taking food and other opportunities that present. Living on the margins of life, they are the unseen, or those that are so nondescript they can fit in anywhere. We are provided a few clues on the stat ...more
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing

’If you are to walk toward a field that lies at the edge of the small town of Foloiya when the sun is awake in the sky, you will hear the breeze whistling through the grasses, parting the dry and green strands as it makes its way to you. Or maybe you will think it is the rustling of someone hiding under the bast shrubs. At the end of the field, your eyes will light upon the face of a boy among the grasses, peering intently at something. You try to see what it is by following the trail of his gaz
Ron Charles
Apr 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ishmael Beah’s 2007 memoir, “A Long Way Gone,” was hard to ignore and impossible to forget. News reports about children conscripted into Sierra Leone’s civil war had shocked the world, but then came this indelible testimony from one of the soldiers describing the horrors he had witnessed and committed as a teenager. Beah’s survival, his recovery and his eloquence made him an international symbol of hope, and he has worked passionately since then to bring attention and resources to saving childre ...more
Elyse  Walters
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, africa
I meet Ismael Beah when he spoke at our local university about his memoir “A Long Way Gone”, years ago.

Beah’s memoir was the most talked about book in the Bay Area, at the time.
Teachers in our local High Schools and Colleges were reading it with students.
Parents, young adults .... everywhere you went around town....
people were talking about it.
It’s it’s one of those stories a reader never forgets.

I later read “Radiance of Tomorrow”....Ishmael’s first novel.
The book wasn’t well written in
May 11, 2020 rated it liked it
This started out engrossing but unfortunately failed to hold my attention. It's a story of five young people who, having lost their families, create one of their own together, living in an abandoned airplane in the jungle. They use their wits to survive, working odd jobs when they can and stealing food and other supplies when the opportunity arises. Their ingenuity was fun to witness, their creativity in survival knowing no end. 

Unfortunately, what started out as interesting and a story about al
★★★✰✰ 3 stars

“Almost everything in this country is on its way to losing itself.”

Little Family is a deeply felt novel. Set in an unnamed African country, the narrative revolves around five young people whose makeshift home is a derelict airplane.
Ishmael Beah’s paints a sobering landscape: government corruption, extreme social divide, the malignant vestiges of colonialism, colourism, military/police brutality. The ‘little family’ at the heart of his novel do their best to survive, pouring their
Apr 22, 2020 rated it really liked it

Little Family by Ishmael Beah
On Sale: April 28, 2020

Ishmael Beah does not disappoint. This little family includes five kids that, for whatever reason, have brought them together where they live in an abandoned airplane hidden away from the world. They have developed very sophisticated ways to survive and keep themselves safe. This story really focused on, Khoudi, a young lady who is being pulled in two directions and still unsure of her past. While she longs for the com
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Little Family, Ishmael Beah's second novel, is both haunting and powerful. It follows a group of five street smart youths (roughly ages 8 to 20) living on their own in a crashed airplane. They try to survive scavenging for the next meal and sharing with each other the very little they have and using their imaginations to make up for everything they are missing.

The entire story depicts the political climate of high corruption, the marginalized people struggling with unfairness and judgements, an
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
What a gentle and tender book that had the rhythmic nature of an African lullaby.Five young people have banded together to create their own life, living hand to mouth, hiding in a crashed airplane that they call home. Despite their struggles, materially and psychologically, resting inside their virtual home was like slipping on an old sweater, warm and comforting. Beah's characters are so well developed that I felt I could point them out on the street. What indeed makes up a family? Piercing obs ...more
Apr 10, 2020 added it
Shelves: goodreads-win
Khoudi was invisible in her beanie and boy's clothes. Elimane was the intellectual, always with a book, his past life a secret; he is also street-smart, a hustler. Young Namsa suffers sleep terrors rooted in some unspoken past while Khoudi watches over her. Ndevui and Kpindi play marbles for ganja.

These bright young people have been dealt horrible blows. They have banded together as a little family to survive life on the streets. They know how to blend into the crowd, tag along with a family to
Never Without a Book
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Little Family by Ishmael Beah is set in an unnamed place but could also be anywhere. Five homeless orphans take refuge in an abandoned airplane camouflaged by a maze of vegetation. Day in and day out these young people struggle for food, security and a sense of belonging, but don’t be fooled, these kids are observant and disciplined.

Throughout this character driven novel, Beah, interweaves the stories of each youth and he gives the reader just enough of a backstory to get your imagination going
May 01, 2020 rated it liked it
2 1/2 stars, rounded up. There are elements of a book I could love in here, but ultimately it didn't do enough with them. The members of this young found family all engaged me, as did their ingenious cons and strategies to keep themselves fed and clothed, day by day. Their unnamed West African beach city vividly came to life for me too. But I wish the author had dug more deeply into these characters, especially their previous lives and how they came to be homeless. This would also have given the ...more
Sep 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cultural, library
I wonder if Beah sat in front of his computer and thought 'how can I teach the world about the corruption, colonialism, class system and poverty in Sierra Leone?' and then came up with the story of Khoudi and the little family. The story is a thought-provoking snapshot of a life lived in survival mode with the big themes of government corruption, inordinate wealth and systemic poverty at its heart. The story is one that hints at the Sierra Leone's reality then pushes you to ask deeper questions ...more
Suzanne thebookblondie
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Little Family by Ishmael Beah (#48 in 2020)

Elimane, Khoudiemata, Ndevui, Kpindi, and Namsa are five young people who have joined forces to create a shelter out of an abandoned airplane and who share life's struggles as they steal food and money for survival. As Elimane and Khoudi begin to experience different ways of life, the survival of the little family is put to the test. 

I love the character of Khoudi. She is incredibly dynamic in terms of her development, but she remained constant in her b
Leah Schmidt
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful little story, I wish it had been so much longer. Hopefully the author will choose to revisit the story and its rich characters. There was so much more to be told. I would love to know what led up to the story and hear more about their lives prior to the story’s opening
Abbie | ab_reads
Jun 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
I had some audiobook credits to use thanks to the lovely people at @librofm (#gifted) to choose whatever I fancied, and as soon as I saw Little Family on there I remembered Anna's @never_withouta_book review! She mentioned that it was character-driven, with five orphans banding together to survive. Those 'found family' vibes had me adding Little Family to my cart in a second!
And I wasn't disappointed. I fell for Ishmael Beah's Little Family of five. Their dynamics were lovely to read about. Kho
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, netgalley
Ishmael Beah's first book was a memoir of his life as a child soldier in Africa. Since then he's been an important human rights activist. He has also become a novelist.

Little Family, Beah's second novel, is both understated and powerful. It follows a group of five young people (roughly ages 8 to 20) living on their own in Zimbabwe in a derelict airplane hull near an airport. The pacing is slow because Beah observes their lives with the same detail with which they observe the world around themsel
Aisling Foley
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this but.... there was something missing. Maybe exposition? A defined beginning,middle and end. Normally I love books where nothing much happens and the whole novel turns out to be a character study. But, with this, from the moment the book begins it is an explosion of movement and action, no pause for character exploration.

Even the books quieter moments which centred around Khoudi felt a little flat. I didn’t connect with the character maybe because I didn’t truly know her intentions
Basic B's Guide
Apr 24, 2020 rated it liked it
While I finished LITTLE FAMILY and was left wanting more, I still loved the tenderness within the story. The daily fight to survive was so evident and heartbreaking. I look forward to chatting with the #mysterybookclub readers and the author.

“In Elimane’s days as an apprentice learning to navigate the blows of life, he would have been long gone by now, with William Handkerchief’s bag in his grip. But he had come to learn that he must always plan for the days on which his wits, cunning, and stre
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Who knew that Ishmael Beah had become such a great writer? Apparently this is his sophomore fiction effort, and I'm definitely going to find his first novel and read that.

The idea of family and how we create our own, how they can mutate over time and sometimes reach a breaking point is wonderfully illustrated by the five members of this "little family" and their life together. We never learn their back stories because they've never told each other about "before", although they hint at it. There'
Nikki (Saturday Nite Reader)
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2020
4.5 stars rounded up

I stayed up way past my bedtime one night so I could finish. When I was trying to find the words to describe my reading journey, I was having some difficulty in finding the right words to portray just how quietly beautiful the written words were. When this happens I usually re-read the book jacket for a spark and the word “tender” immediately jumped out at me. It is the perfect word to describe this book.

I was absorbed by the story and didn't fully know it: it’s one of those
Thank you @riverheadbooks for the gifted book.

“Poverty has a great appetite for eating one's dignity, but Elimane was one of those people who fought to keep his, even when that was the only battle he was winning."

“I don't want to choose between surviving and living.”

When I finished this book, I immediately said I will read Beah's other books. A Long Way Gone has lingered on my shelf for years but I'll get back to that in a moment.

Beah's writing is beautiful and transporting. I followed this lit
Darcy Tanner
Mar 15, 2020 rated it liked it
I’m struggling with rating this book. It took a while for me to read. I started and finished multiple books after I had already started this. I never felt the urge to read it other than I did want to finish it. I usually love stories that deal with cultures unlike my own, in this case Africa, and while that part of the book was interesting it was just really slow.

Little Family is the story of a “family” of orphans, the oldest being in his older teens and the youngest being elementary school age
Heather // myinfinitetbr
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arcs
4.5 rounded up

"I don't want to choose between surviving and living."

Little Family is a tender story about five young people living together on the fringes of society. They band together in their daily outings to provide for the group, but each have their own ambitions and desires.

I fell in love with these characters. Khoudi with her sacred alone space at a secluded beach, Elimane with his books, Ndevui who ran with disconnected headphones, Kpindi who was a jokester, and Namsa who liked to listen
Brittinee │ bookswithbrittinee
I finished Little Family and I have so many emotions!

I will admit I had a hard time getting into it at first with all of the different characters and names, but about 1/3 through it started to pick up. It is a beautiful and tragic story about family of 5 kids who live in an abandoned airplane. The kids are not related, but found each other along the way of their journey. Each day you learn about their struggles to get food, earn money, their clothes and shoes that are falling apart. All of the t
Kala (ReaderthenBlogger)
May 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
What a story. This book packs punches and lands feelings where you least expect. This story shows that family doesn’t mean you have to be blood related to be there for one another. It means the situation that you are in and how you come together to protect, provide, and love each other. Each of the five members( Elimane, Khoudiemata, Ndevui, and Namsa) bring something to the table no matter how small it may have seemed to an outsider’s perspective. The sacrifices they each make in order to survi ...more
Apr 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Little Family is a uniquely told story about five orphaned children making their in a war torn country. Covering issues of culture, race, social structure, community and family this book really touches on so many issues. We were lucky enough to get to talk with the author and it was a great experience to hear his intentions and perspective of the story. It totally made me appreciate the book in a different way. ⁣While I didn't love this book, I still am glad I read it and would recommend it. ...more
Apr 26, 2020 rated it really liked it

This book is beautiful!

Admittedly, this book isn't a genre that I'd usually read, but I enjoyed it!

It was dense, character driven and not really a light read.

That being said, Beah does a fantastic job of deeply describing the characters in a short amount of time. While everything was descriptive, a lot was vague and left you immediately wanting more.

Great writing, beautiful story and wonderful characters!
Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've read I think everything of Ishmael Beah's works and I love his writing but this book wasn't his best work. I did enjoy it though. Five young people, not connected by blood, but a family nonetheless is living in an abandoned airplane and trying to circumvent a country that is chaos and corrupt. There are two different worlds that a few are trying to integrate into, or are they? Where do they belong? What must they do to survive? ...more
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Play Book Tag: (Poll Ballot) Little Family by Ishmael Beah - 3 stars 1 4 Oct 31, 2020 05:33AM  

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Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leone in 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. In 2004 he graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in political science.

He is a member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Division Advisory Committee and has spoken before the United Nations, the Cou

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After his electrifying memoir, A Long Way Gone, about his time as a child soldier, the Sierra Leonean writer looks at life after war in his new...
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“They always shared equally, even if all they had was a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit. Today she had brought back fried fish and stewed onions with bread and other things that you would not put together if you had the luxury of considering the pleasure of the mouth.” 1 likes
“Poverty has a great appetite for eating one’s dignity, but Elimane was one of those people who fought to keep his, even when that was the only battle he was winning.” 0 likes
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