A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier A Long Way Gone discussion

A Long Way Gone Review

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Jacob Klonsky Jacob Klonsky
English 2 Honors
Period 6
10 June 2016
A Long Way Gone in Review
A Long Way Gone was certainly an interesting book. Instead of focusing on writer’s craft, the author, Ishmael Beah, decided to use a bare and stark type of writing in order to convey the primal nature of the events that befell him. The book is a recount of the events Ishmael Beah went through during his childhood trapped in the war of Sierra Leone within the late 1900s. An interesting approach for sure, Beah decides to let his story do the talking and not embellish it with superior writer’s craft. This is both a good and bad thing. The good in this is that Beah’s language is able to emphasize the fact that he is a child throughout all of these events. However, it is often frustrating when you read the book and find the same simple language throughout. For example, the word “verandah” is used literally 77 times throughout the book. I don’t know what it is about Beah but he’s simply not able to mix up how he describes something. Due to the villages of Sierra Leone being rather similar from place to place, Beah’s descriptions barely change, this really hurts the book overall because you never really get a sense of differentiation between each unique village unless they are drastically different. The book’s plot is intriguing because of how crazy the events Beah goes through are. Beah really shines when describing the African culture, this is one of the best points of the book. Beah is able to make you feel somewhat absorbed into his environment and childhood due to his effective and succinct description of his childhood. However, once again, this is prevented from being truly amazing because of the writing. The same old descriptions at every different village he goes to prevented me from getting truly immersed into the book. Overall, I’d say this book is definitely solid due to the story, but the writers craft is definitely lacking. I know this is intended and not negligence but it prevents the book from being truly great.

Rita This is an interesting take on this book. I read it a few years ago so I cannot recall exactly what you are describing regarding the sameness of descriptions. My reaction to the book was simply that it enlarged my understanding of what the children of these areas are going through and how and why they end up as soldiers. I felt it broke some stereotypes of the "bad guys" in these genocide wars. I was not focused on the writing techniques.

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