Dear Ishmael Beah,
My mom told me not to read your book A Long Way Gone because she thought it might be too graphic (moms, these days), but at the time she hadn't even read it. She thought that just because my oldest brother at the University of Iowa had to read it that it might not be good for me. I wanted to prove her wrong so I read it, and enjoyed every last page.
I could never put the book down because it literally became a part of me. I remember dozing off in class and thinking about what would happen next in the book; I also remember wanting to read as much as I could while there was daylight because I didn't want to experience those nightmares I had when I read it just before bed (I guess I was a bit too young). However, it took me about a month to read it because the font was so small and the words were complex for me at the time.
One of the main reasons I liked this book was because I did not have any connections with this book, at all. In class we rarely study Africa, much less modem day Africa. I had only heard of Sierra Leone a handful of times on the radio, and every time I heard the name, the word just slipped through my head. Before reading this book and I didn't have a clue what happened in such small a country. Now, the name sticks to me like the gum on the underside of my desk. However, I do realize that just because one country contained some horrible acts does not mean that the entire continent of Africa is a horrible place. The pictures this book painted in my mind gave me a vivid image of what Africa is like. I imagine it scorching hot in the heat of the sun, but once my imagination enters the dense forests it becomes humid and mysterious, like in the movies.
A Long Way Gone has inspired me to think outside the box (or in this case America). I now feel as though I can help be a part of something greater, and contribute to others' needs, not just my own. It has given me the mind set to realize that when I am hungry, there are always millions of human beings who are starving; that when I am thirsty, there are millions who are absent of water day after day. Now I have the attitude of "not sweating the small stuff' and in essence consider that I am just one speck on this mammoth planet, but a speck that can take part in helping others.
This may seem absurd but even after an entire year I think about this book at least once a week, and I am truly a forgetful person. Consider this, two weeks ago I finished my second favorite book of all time but I already forgot every single characters' name. This proves that the words A Long Way Gone spoke to me; touched me; and gave me a scar that I will always remember.