Ishmael Beah focuses on the life of a boy who became a soldier at a young age, repatriated, and later stood for the rights of the children. Even though Ismail often saw refugees in his village, the war had never been part of the worries the boy had. He mainly concentrated on his dances to hip-hop music with friends. During the dances, he was accompanied by his brother, Junior.
While they were dancing in Mattru Jong, a 16-mile journey from their home, their village is ambushed. All their parents disappeared during the attack, and all the children had to find ways of surviving. The children fought each other over the limited food available.
Later, the situation worsened when the rebels captured them. The boys were separated and would have been killed were it not for the sound that came from the forest. As they escaped, they noticed that people had trust issues and were unwilling to assist them. Besides, rumors were going around of the existence of boys causing harm to people.
When they were captured for questioning, it is Ismael’s radio cassette that saved them as they were viewed as normal boys and not a threat to people. The boys began walking through a 30-mile distance to look for their relatives. They got to the Atlantic Ocean. Their enjoyment of the beach environment was interrupted when they were captured, their shoes taken and finally released.
After a while, a man helped them from the hot sun. The other villages in the village discovered their whereabouts. The cassette again showed that they meant no harm. They continued walking to locate Ismael’s family. The village believed to be the place where Ismael’s parents were attacked and everyone was killed.
The boys were later captured and forced to learn how to fight. There were other orphan children. The only way to stay safe from the rebels was to fight them. The strategy was to lean important shorting tactics and know when to hide. To energize and make these boys more vicious, they took some drugs.
At 16 years, Ismael was taken to the city. They were to be rehabilitated with the other children who had been soldiers. That meant they had to stay away from drugs. Though it was tough, he had to overcome the problems. He later became a children spokesperson in Sierra Leone.