I read "A Long Way Gone" over a year ago and was very excited and impressed that it was chosen for the 9th grade curriculum. I have been reading it again this time with my son and have really been able to appreciate the immense humanity of Ishmael and the depth of his writing as I wasn't so shocked by the contents this time. I am really amazed at the depth of his memory especially prior to the war and the eloquence of his thoughts. After a horrible shooting spree he comments: "The branches of the trees looked as if they were holding hands and bowing their heads in prayer." The images and emotions that he portrays - both graphic and redeeming - are amazing.
This is such an important book as it exposes the rest of the world to the humanity of conflicts. To watch the descent of an innocent boy into the depths of a killer and back again is draining yet hopeful. I hope that this book really touches the kids and makes them better global citizens for having experienced it. We are too desensitized by violence especially when it happens "over there". Ishmael has made "over there" come into our homes and hearts. It is also such an important book because Ishmael is dedicating his life to trying to change the world through his experience. Our children have the benefit of being energized to make a change in the world by experiencing only his book - not his life.
I applaud the teachers that selected this book because our children need to know about the world that they live in and their neighbors around the world. The fact that this study also teamed with the World Geography class is also critical as the history and context of this book must be understood. Being invited to read this along with my son gave me the ability to talk with him about the graphic war scenes and to help him to digest all of this with some parental insight. I think that the teachers really thought this through and came up with an excellent and much needed experience for our kids.
One final thought: isn't it amazing that the world community has such a hard time getting food and medical supplies around the world but guns and drugs have always traveled unimpeded even into the remotest regions on earth..........