20 May 2012

Book of the Month | A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah

Hallo meine Damen!

This month I read the book A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. It is an autobiography of Beah's life before he emigrated to the United States in 1998. Beah was forced by in his homeland of Sierra Leone to become a soldier at the age of thirteen. The title pretty much hints that this will happen but, as a reader, you become so attached to this young boy and drawn to his story, you want to hold out hope that he can escape the clutches of the rebels forever. Unfortunately, he was only able to do so for about a year. I won't give away the story but I will share a few of my favorite excerpts from the book:

"We must strive to be like the moon" an old adage Ishmael was told in his youth. His grandmother explained to him what it meant by saying, "...the adage served to remind people to always be on their best behavior and to be good to others. She said that people complain when there is too much sun and it gets unbearably hot, and also when it rains too much or when it is cold. But, she said, no one grumbles when the moon shines. Everyone becomes happy and appreciates the moon in their own special way."
And when he and some of his twelve year old friends were running from village to village to escape the rebels, one of his friends, Saidu, who died soon after, talked to him about what it felt like for him to keep coming so close to death:
"Every time people come at us with the intention of killing us, I close my eyes and wait for death. Even though I am still alive, I feel like each time I accept death, part of me dies. Very soon I will completely die and all that will be left is my empty body walking with you."

The perseverance of this young boy and others like him is inspiring, to say the least. It reminds me to appreciate my life for what it is and for what it isn't. It reminds me to thank God for what He has blessed me with as well as what He has allowed me to escape. So many times this kid could have just given up and accepted death or complained about his situation but he didn't. He lived for weeks alone in the jungle and even at twelve years old, with no experience in that arena, learned to survive every day. I really found myself rooting for this boy, hoping he would find freedom, or his family, or some sense of normalcy. Some things he found eventually, others he never got back. When he finally found freedom I felt an overwhelming sense of happiness and sadness at the same time. Through all the hurt, this boy had survived. So many others never did, though. I think that is something all of us need to carry with us everyday: Although we may be faced with obstacles so tall today that we can't even fathom tomorrow, we have to push through it. If not for ourselves, for those who never had the opportunity of today.

Value life. Value people. Value the opportunity of today.


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