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A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

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As a 12-year-old growing up in Sierra Leone, Beah lived a life not unlike a typical American pre-teen, listening to hip hop and hanging out with friends. When civil war comes to his country, however, he is surrounded by death and is forced to survive by becoming a soldier, plied with cocaine and sent on killing sprees. The violence is frequent and not for the squeamish — the book was published for the Adult market — but teens love a tale of overcoming long odds.

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Biographies are on lots of school booklists, but they can also be popular leisure reading choices for teens. They often feature real-life characters who have overcome adversity — a theme teens are drawn to again and again.