Saturday, March 03, 2007

An Excellent Excuse to 'Procrastinate"

This week, when I entered Starbucks, procrastination was far from my mind. Instead, I was praying that their holiday drink – a double tall Gingerbread Latte with whip – could be found four months post-holiday.

The coffee gods were smiling upon me. So as I waited impatiently to gulp calories that were destined for my hips, my eyes traveled the store restlessly.

Until my gaze landed on the book display nearby.

The featured book sported a photograph cover with green grass that was almost neon in its intensity and a dirt road the color of nutmeg. This background was soothing – but the stark image of the 10- year old(?) boy was not, for as he walked along this picturesque road in tattered flip-flops that matched the green grass, a bayonet rested against his hip while he carried a grenade on his shoulders.

So I picked up A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, by Ishmael Beah and began reading the inside cover flap…

...THIS IS HOW WARS ARE BEING FOUGHT NOW: by children, traumatized, hopped-up on drugs, and wielding AK-47s. Children have become the soldiers of choice—

"Rachelle," announced the barrista, interrupting me.

I ignored him, my attention focused on the book.

In more than fifty violent conflicts worldwide, it is estimated that there are some 300,000 child soldiers—


I suppressed a sigh.

"Your double tall Gingerbread Latte with whip is ready."

Yeah, yeah. All right, already.

I took my drink and grabbed a seat, deciding that my office teammates could survive a bit longer without me. I returned my gaze to the book.

Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. What does war look like through the eyes of a child?

I do not know. I barely comprehend what it looks like through the eyes of an adult.

How does one become a killer?

I do not know. The thought of children forced to kill is unthinkable.

How does one stop?

I do not know. I’m still trying to grasp how one starts.

And so, for the next 24-hours – on my BART train ride to work, my walk to and from BART, my Starbucks coffee runs, and before I went to sleep at night – my mind was obsessed with Mr. Beah’s life. The neon book cover beckoned to me, refusing to release me until I finished it.

Which surprised me, as I oftentimes read to escape to a world of fantasy.

Beah’s book is a journey into harsh reality. Yet, despite this, his straight-forward style, his matter-of-fact tone, interspersed with lyrical phrases, kept me turning pages. As horror after horror was heaped on him, I wondered how he would go on, how he would survive it. When good finally happened, I wondered how he was going to be able to accept it. Sometimes I smiled, occasionally I chuckled, many times I cried, but always I was awestruck. His survival is miraculous – and the man he has grown up to be, astounding.

The book - his words - are still with me. I highly recommend this book!

Have any of you read it?

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At 6:32 PM, Blogger Tempest Knight said...

Nothing of the caliber of what you read. I'm reading "Dream Hunter" by Sherrilyn Kenyon. :)

At 7:16 PM, Blogger Rachelle Chase said...

Well, I really couldn't resist that book. You know, I have not yet read Sherrilyn Kenyon. You're about the 3rd person who's mentioned her book recently. I really must pick up one. Which is your favorite?

At 12:32 PM, Blogger Tempest Knight said...

Rachelle, I like Zak's story the best. That would be "Dance with the Devil," which I think will be book #5 in the Dark-Hunter series. *wg*

At 2:45 PM, Blogger Rachelle Chase said...

Hmmm. Can I jump right to book #5 or do I have to start with #1 to get the story ... ?

At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Michelle said...

I haven't read A Long Way Gone, but I will now :) Thanks, Rachelle.

At 1:02 PM, Blogger Rachelle Chase said...

Hope you enjoy it as I did, Michelle ...

At 6:29 AM, Blogger Edie said...

Rachelle, Michelle told me about this blog. It touched something in her. I'll read the book too, although I feel teary just reading your post.

At 6:43 AM, Blogger Rachelle Chase said...

Edie, thanks for stopping by. I'm honored that my blog "touched" Michelle ... Yeah, it is such an amazing book. I'd love to hear your thoughts afterwards.


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