I just finished reading A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier and refugee from Sierra Leone, who escaped after he underwent rehabilitation through UNICEF. A friend of mine from church, Kay, had read the book and recommended it, so I borrowed it from her and read through it pretty quickly. In fact, it was such an easy book to read that I managed to get through it at work during some down time.
Ishmael was only 12 when the civil war in Sierra Leone found him and he lost his family, and 13 when he was recruited as a child soldier in the government army. He spends that majority of the book telling about how he wandered through the country, both with several groups of boys and by himself, and only about a quarter of the book is focused on his time as a soldier. For this, I was very thankful. He did a great job of introducing the subject of child soldiers and showing just the tip of the iceberg. He was descriptive without being graphic; he told just enough to get the point of the depravity and horror of it all without making it too difficult to read.
I highly recommend this book… to everyone! This is such an important issue that is so easily forgotten in American culture, but there are children—children—all over this world who are being sold into slavery, used as soldiers, abused, neglected, and killed. And we can do something about it, but first, we have to know that these atrocities exist. So read this book. And then learn what you can do to help children all over the world.