86 pages 2 hours read

Ishmael Beah

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Solider

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 2007

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more. For select classroom titles, we also provide Teaching Guides with discussion and quiz questions to prompt student engagement.


A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

  • Genre: Nonfiction; Memoir
  • Originally published: 2007
  • Reading Level/Interest: Lexile 920L; grades 7-9
  • Structure/Length: 21 chapters; approx. 241 pages; approx. 8 hours on audiobook
  • Central Concern: During the Sierra Leone Civil War, author Beah is forced to become a child soldier. For three years he witnesses and partakes in unimaginable violence; eventually he is brought to a rehabilitation facility for child soldiers, after which he attends a United Nations Children’s Conference and meets his future adoptive mother.
  • Potential sensitivity issues: Child soldiers, graphic violence, drug use, sexual violence

Ishmael Beah, Author

  • Bio: Born in 1980 in Sierra Leone, Africa; recruited to fight in the Sierra Leone Civil War at age 12 as a child soldier; now an author and activist
  • Other works: Radiance of Tomorrow (2014) and Little Family (2020)
  • Awards: Quill Award nominee (2007)

CENTRAL THEMES connected and noted throughout this Teaching Unit:

  • The Traumatic After-Effects of Violence
  • The Uplifting Aspect of Nature and Spiritual Traditions
  • The Capacity for Altruism in Human Nature

STUDY OBJECTIVES: In accomplishing the components of this Unit, students will: