50 A Long Way Gone Quotes from a Child Soldier

Read these quotes from A Long Way Gone to comprehend the tragedy of civil war and child soldiers.

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier is a memoir by Ishmael Beah.

Beah was a former child soldier in the Sierra Leone Civil War that lasted from 1991 to 2002.

His horrific account of what he endured as a child soldier and his path to healing is a reminder of the resilience of the human spirit.

What are the benefits of reading A Long Way Gone quotes?

Quotes from A Long Way Gone are a good reminder of the capacity of the human spirit to endure, hope, forgive, and heal. 

Beah’s memoir was published in 2007 and quickly gained success and critical acclaim. 

William Boyd of the New York Times writes:

A Long Way Gone makes you wonder how anyone comes through such unrelenting ghastliness and horror with his humanity and sanity intact. Unusually, the smiling, open face of the author on the book jacket provides welcome and timely reassurance. Ishmael Beah seems to prove it can happen.”

Beah was only 12 years old when the war reached his village.

This war, between Sierra Leone and rebels, called the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), was particularly brutal.

Here are some horrific facts about the war:

  • an estimated 10,000 children were recruited to fight in the conflict
  • RUF was backed by Liberian dictator Charles Taylor and funded by the illegal diamond trade
  • both sides in the conflict were responsible for acts of rape, mutilation, and murder against civilians

After fleeing his village, Beah spent the next several years struggling to survive while constantly moving to stay away from the violence. 

Eventually, he was recruited by the Sierra Leone government and trained to become a soldier.

He describes in detail the brutal training he received and the psychological toll it took on him.

Finally, in 2002, the war officially ended with the signing of the Lomé Peace Agreement. 

Beah was rescued by some Unicef fieldworkers and sent to a rehabilitation center, where he received counseling and psychological aid to begin his slow return to normalcy.

Eventually, he came to live in the United States and graduated from high school and Oberlin College.

His book is a powerful and deeply personal account of the devastating impact of war on children and the long but possible road to recovery and healing. 

Please enjoy these quotes from A Long Way Gone.

A Long Way Gone quotes about love

These quotes show that love is the only unshakable source of strength in the universe.

1. “Love is the only thing that can make us bear unbearable situations.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

2. “Love was the only thing that made sense in a world that had gone mad.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

3. “Love is the reason why I survived. I knew I had to stay alive to see my family again.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

4. “My heart was filled with love and hope, and I knew that I had to keep moving forward.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

5. “Love could be found in many places, and I was convinced it could be found in music too.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

6. “The love of music and storytelling had kept me going even in the darkest moments of my life.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

7. “I realized that love, like everything else in life, was fleeting and could disappear in the blink of an eye.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

8. “The war had made me grow up too fast, and love seemed like a luxury that only the lucky ones got to experience.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

9.“My love for my family, especially my younger brother and sister, was the kind of love that was beyond words.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

10. “I discovered that love was not just an emotion but also an action, a decision to choose kindness and compassion even in the face of cruelty and violence.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

A Long Way Gone quotes about war 

Check out these profound words from Beah about war.

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11. “In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

12. “War does not determine who is right, only who is left.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

13. “The war was always there, but we did not go to it until it came to us.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

14. “The sky seemed to be pouring acid rain that corroded everything it fell on. Our ears were numb from the sounds of heavy artillery.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

15. “The war had robbed me of my childhood, my parents, and my siblings. I was now a soldier, a killer, a pawn in someone else’s game.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

16. “The war was like a disease that had infected everyone and everything. It was in the air we breathed, the water we drank, and the food we ate.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

17. “The war had started many years before and no one knew how and when it was going to end. It was not fought to win, it was fought to maintain the balance.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

18. “The war had turned everything upside down. People who had been neighbors and friends for years were now killing each other in the name of tribe and politics.” — Ishmael Beah,A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

19. “In war, the enemy is not always the one shooting at you. Sometimes, the enemy is the fear inside you, the doubt that eats away at your soul, and the memories that haunt you every night.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

20. “Under these stars, we walked every evening to the town, which stood far off from the bush. It was during that time that I became used to seeing the moon during the day. The soldiers at the checkpoint called it the noon moon.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

A Long Way Gone quotes about hope 

We can all relate to times when we’re hanging on to nothing but hope.

21. “Hope is not a guarantee of success, but it is the belief that success is possible.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

22. “Hope is the flicker of light in the darkness, the ray of sunshine after a long and stormy night.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

23. “Even in the midst of war and chaos, hope was always there, like a small seed waiting to sprout and grow.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

24. “Hope is the only thing stronger than fear. It gives us the courage to face our demons and overcome them.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

25. “Hope is a bridge that connects our past, present, and future. It is the anchor that keeps us steady in the storm.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

26. “Hope is a gift, a light that shines in the darkness and gives us the strength to keep going even when everything else seems lost.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

27. “I had to keep hoping that one day I would see my family again, that one day the war would end and peace would return to my country.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

28. “I held on to the hope that one day I would be reunited with my childhood friends, that we would laugh and play together like we used to.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

29. “The hope of a better tomorrow kept me going, even when everything else seemed hopeless. It was the light that guided me through the darkness and led me to safety.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

30. “I felt that I had to keep walking or else I would fall. I knew that if I fell, I would never get up again. And so I walked, hoping that each step would take me farther away from the person I had become.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

A Long Way Gone quotes about trauma

For anyone who has experienced trauma, these quotes go straight to the soul.

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31. “The trauma of war had turned me into a monster, a killer who felt nothing but rage and pain.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

32. “Trauma is like a poison that seeps into every part of your being, infecting everything it touches.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

33. “Trauma is a weight that you carry with you wherever you go. It is a burden that can never be put down.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

34. “The trauma of losing my family had left me numb, like a tree that had been stripped of its bark and leaves.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

35. “The trauma of war had made me into a machine, a killing machine that could not be stopped or reasoned with.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

36. “The trauma of war had left me with a sense of emptiness, like there was a hole inside me that could never be filled.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

37. “The trauma of war had stolen my childhood, my innocence, and my humanity. It had left me with nothing but fear, anger, and despair.” — Ishmael BeahA Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

38. “Trauma is like a wound that never fully heals. It may scab over and appear to have healed, but the pain is always there, just below the surface.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

39. “Trauma changes you. It turns you into someone you never thought you could be, someone who is capable of doing things you never thought possible.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

40. “The war had left scars on my body and soul that would never heal. The memories of the things I had seen and done would haunt me for the rest of my life.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

A Long Way Gone quotes about family

For many, family is everything, the loss of which causes unspeakable heartache.

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41. “My family was the center of my world, the source of my strength and love.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

42. “The family is a sacred bond that connects us to our past, our present, and our future.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

43. “Family is not just about blood, it’s about the bonds that we form with the people who matter most to us.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

44. “The loss of my family had left a hole in my heart that could never be filled. It was a wound that would never fully heal.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

45. “Family is the one thing that can never be taken away from us. It is the one thing that will always be there, no matter what.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

46. “The memories of my family were like a beacon of light in the darkness, reminding me of who I was and where I came from.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

47. “My family had been ripped apart by the war, and I was left alone, wandering through a world that had become dark and dangerous.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

48. “The love and support of my family had always been a shield against the harsh realities of life, but now that shield had been shattered.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

49. “Family is not just about blood relations, it’s about the people who love and care for you, the people who make you feel like you belong.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

50. “The thought of being reunited with my family kept me going, even in the darkest of times. It was the hope that one day, we would be together again.” — Ishmael Beah, A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

This story is not uncommon

Ishmael Beah is one of tens of thousands of African children that were forced to engage in horrific acts of violence against their own countrymen. 

Unfortunately, it has happened all too often that African civil wars and violent conflicts (forcibly) recruit children as young as 10 or 11 years old to fight for them. 

Such was the case with the Nigerian Civil War (also known as the Biafran War) from 1967 to 1970.

Ken Saro-Wiwa’s novel Sozaboy is an epic tale about a young soldier during that time. 

The effects of forced soldiering on children are devasting and long-lasting.

However, the resiliency of these children, and their willingness to forgive, are a testament to the power of love that lives in the human soul. 

Tell us your favorite A Long Way Gone quote in the comment section. 

If you found these A Long Way Gone quotes moving, share them with others by clicking the Share button now. 

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