This week, when I entered Starbucks, procrastination was far from my mind. Instead, I was praying that their holiday drink – a double tall Gingerbread Latte with whip – could be found four months post-holiday.

The coffee gods were smiling upon me. So as I waited impatiently to gulp calories that were destined for my hips, my eyes traveled the store restlessly.

Until my gaze landed on the book display nearby.

A Long Way Gone Book CoverThe featured book sported a photograph cover with green grass that was almost neon in its intensity and a dirt road the color of nutmeg. This background was soothing – but the stark image of the 10- year old(?) boy was not, for as he walked along this picturesque road in tattered flip-flops that matched the green grass, a bayonet rested against his hip while he carried a grenade on his shoulders.

So I picked up A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah and began reading the inside cover flap…

…THIS IS HOW WARS ARE BEING FOUGHT NOW: by children, traumatized, hopped-up on drugs, and wielding AK-47s. Children have become the soldiers of choice—

“Rachelle,” announced the barrista, interrupting me.

I ignored him, my attention focused on the book.

In more than fifty violent conflicts worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers—

“Rachelle.”

I suppressed a sigh.

“Your double tall Gingerbread Latte with whip is ready.”

Yeah, yeah. All right, already.

I took my drink and grabbed a seat, deciding that my office teammates could survive a bit longer without me. I returned my gaze to the book.

Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. What does war look like through the eyes of a child?

I do not know. I barely comprehend what it looks like through the eyes of an adult.

How does one become a killer?

I do not know. The thought of children forced to kill is unthinkable.

How does one stop?

I do not know. I’m still trying to grasp how one starts.

And so, for the next 24-hours – on my BART train ride to work, my walk to and from BART, my Starbucks coffee runs, and before I went to sleep at night – my mind was obsessed with Mr. Beah’s life. The neon book cover beckoned to me, refusing to release me until I finished it.

Which surprised me, as I oftentimes read to escape to a world of fantasy.

Beah’s book is a journey into harsh reality. Yet, despite this, his straight-forward style, his matter-of-fact tone, interspersed with lyrical phrases, kept me turning pages. As horror after horror was heaped on him, I wondered how he would go on, how he would survive it. When good finally happened, I wondered how he was going to be able to accept it. Sometimes I smiled, occasionally I chuckled, many times I cried, but always I was awestruck. His survival is miraculous – and the man he has grown up to be, astounding.

The book – his words – are still with me. I highly recommend this book!

Have any of you read it?

8 Comments

  • Tempest Knight Posted Mar 6 8:32 pm

    Nothing of the caliber of what you read. I’m reading “Dream Hunter” by Sherrilyn Kenyon. 🙂

  • Rachelle Chase Posted Mar 6 9:16 pm

    Well, I really couldn’t resist that book. You know, I have not yet read Sherrilyn Kenyon. You’re about the 3rd person who’s mentioned her book recently. I really must pick up one. Which is your favorite?

  • Tempest Knight Posted Mar 8 2:32 pm

    Rachelle, I like Zak’s story the best. That would be “Dance with the Devil,” which I think will be book #5 in the Dark-Hunter series. *wg*

  • Rachelle Chase Posted Mar 10 4:45 pm

    Hmmm. Can I jump right to book #5 or do I have to start with #1 to get the story … ?

  • Michelle Posted Mar 12 1:18 pm

    I haven’t read A Long Way Gone, but I will now 🙂 Thanks, Rachelle.

  • Rachelle Chase Posted Mar 12 2:02 pm

    Hope you enjoy it as I did, Michelle …

  • Edie Posted Mar 21 7:29 am

    Rachelle, Michelle told me about this blog. It touched something in her. I’ll read the book too, although I feel teary just reading your post.

  • Rachelle Chase Posted Mar 21 7:43 am

    Edie, thanks for stopping by. I’m honored that my blog “touched” Michelle … Yeah, it is such an amazing book. I’d love to hear your thoughts afterwards.

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