YOU have GOT to read this book
This dude is my lil bro’s age. The things he lived through. And overcame. It’s miraculous.
This man–WOW! My words cannot possibly describe how amazing and poetic he is– his depiction of survival during the war in Sierra Leone is heart-wrenchingly beautiful.
Our church had done some mission work there until it got too dangerous. For us. But the locals had to live there. In the midst of “too dangerous”.
I’m pulling some particularly poignant passages from the text:
Before the war reached his village: First, its rays penetrated through the leaves, and gradually, with cockcrows and sparrows that vigorously proclaimed daylight, the golden sun sat at the top of the forest.
After he was dragged into the fighting: We took the guns and ammunition off the bodies of my friends and left them there in the forest, which had taken on a life of its won, as if it had trapped the souls that departed from the dead. The branches of the trees looked as if they were holding hands and bowing their heads in prayer.
Life of a young soldier: But at night some of us would wake up from nightmares, sweating, screaming and punching our own heads to drive out the images that continued to torment us even when were were no longer asleep.
During a battle: The forest was wet and the rain washed the blood off the leaves as if cleansing the surface of the forest, but the dead bodies remained under the bushes and the blood that poured out of the bodies stayed on top of the soaked soil, as if the soil had refused to absorb any more blood for that day.
After being ‘rescued’ by the UN: I tried to think about my childhood days, but it was impossible as I began getting flashbacks of the first time I slit a man’s throat. The scene kept surfacing in my memory like lightning on a dark rainy night, and each time it happened, I heard a sharp cry in my head that made my spine hurt.
On arriving in NYC: It was 4:30 p.m. I asked Dr. Tamba why it was dark so early in this country. “Because it is winter,” he said. “Oh!” I nodded, but the early darkness still didn’t make sense to me. I knew the word “winter” from Shakespeare’s tests and I thought I should look up its meaning again.
I told myself I wouldn’t want to live in such an unpleasantly cold country, where I would always have to worry about my nose, ears, and face falling off.
Back in Sierra Leone: Gunshots echoed in the quiet city and the morning breeze felt harsh against my face. The air smelled of rotten bodies and gunpowder.
Trying to escape: He looked at me with blood shot eyes and a face that said, “I will kill you if I want to and nothing will come of it.”
This is a story that needs to be heard. How Ishmael Beah could survive is an improbability, to thrive as he has is an impossibility, and to share his hell and rise from it with the rest of the world: imperative.