Category Archives: Book Review

A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah

I just finished A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah. War memoirs are not my cup of tea, but since my book group chose it.. I felt obligated to give it a shot. The first half of the book is very readable, given its grim subject matter.

The story is about a boy soldier in Sierra Leone. After losing his family in a bloody civil war.. Ishmael is recruited as a soldier to fight the opposition. His daily existence consists of violence and drugs and the distant hope that the war will end. I was moved by this part of his life. So young, yet forced to endure such hard conditions. Hard to imagine really.

The second half of the book felt “tacked on”. Ishmael is chosen to be rehabilitated and moved to a home. There he undergoes detox and daily visits with various medical professionals. I was very happy to see an end to the violence, at least in his case.. but the shift was so abrupt that I found it hard to follow. I felt that he had more to say, but chose not to say it.

Not one of my faves as far as memoirs go. We’ll see what kind of discussion it generates this Thursday.


The Cleft, by Doris Lessing

I just finished The Cleft, by Doris Lessing. A nightmarish tale about human creation where women are called “clefts” and men are called “monsters” or “squirts”. Male babies are sacrificed for years until some eagles decide to save the “monster” babies and to take them to another part of the island they all share..where they grow up to be “squirts”. When the Clefts learn of this, they wander over and thus begins the story of how the human race began. Add animals that feed the babies, genital mutilation, and depictions of rape and murder and you have The Cleft.

It was almost unbearable for me to read it. Crude and not well written. I know she won the Nobel prize for literature but honestly, this book was like visiting a very unpleasant port-a-potty. Made me want to take a shower every time I touched it.

Needless to say.. I do not recommend it! If there are any of you out there that read it, and found it to be a staggering work of genius..please let me know as I really wanted it to be good. You know me, always looking for the silver lining.