Study Guide

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Family

By Ishmael Beah

Family

Your family probably drives you nuts at times, but that's what families do and you love them anyway. Our families are the most important people we love and care for, the ones who take care of us. For Ishmael Beah, they're also the people he's lost. In A Long Way Gone, Ishmael is separated from his family by the war in Sierra Leone and doesn't ever find them again. It's clear how much he needs the love of his relatives, because without them, he's forced to survive on his own.

Although Ishmael eventually connects with his extended biological family, he also finds a family of sorts among the people he meets who've shared his experiences. Eventually he's adopted by an American woman who he connected with during a visit to New York, but he never forgets the family he's lost. They're in his dreams and his memories.

Questions About Family

  1. If Ishmael were older when the war started, do you think he'd still need his family as much?
  2. Why are the natural bonds of family so important during times of war and crisis?
  3. Did you expect Ishmael to find his family again? Were you disappointed he never found out what happened to them?

Chew on This

Ishmael learns that a family can be any group of people who love and protect each other.

There's something special about Ishmael's blood relatives that other "family" groups can't replace.

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