A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
If you saw the movie Blood Diamond and were shocked by the way the military was using young children as soldiers, this is the book for you. It’s the true story of how a twelve-year-old boy from Sierra Leone gets caught up in his country’s civil war and is literally forced to become a soldier. The story begins when he and his friends are entering hip-hop dance contests, but changes quickly when his village is attacked by rebel forces. He and his friends are lucky enough to get away, but then spend months wandering from village to village, foraging for food and hiding from both the rebel and national armies. Beah is eventually captured and made a part of the national army. His training there converts him into a mindless killing machine. His days consist of killing with his AK-47, eating 60 second meals, and using drugs ranging from marijuana to brown brown, a cocaine-gun powder concoction.
He is eventually rescued by United Nations emmisaries, but the road back to a normal life is anything but easy. Read this short, gripping biography to find out how Beah eventually became a scholar at Oberlin College and a spokesman for child soldiers everywhere.