These two books have been my recent infatuation. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane, follows a child in Alexandria from the age of four-ish up, through his incredibly long and hard fight for equality. It is amazing. A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah follows a child in Sierra Leone from twelve up, through his time as a child soldier and all the rehabilitation that has to happen after that. It is also amazing.
I’m not a person who reads a ton of memoirs, mostly because not many memoirs are worth reading, in my opinion. I the last one I finished was the Betty White memoir If You Ask Me (And Of Course, You Won’t), which was incredibly funny but not quite as deep as these two.
I will admit to originally having to read these books for school, but they are honestly amazing books that I wish I would have read earlier. They’re books that belong on the top of my “Every Human Should Read These” list. I have never read a book as seriously as I read Kaffir Boy, and it actually had words that I had to look up in it. (That doesn’t happen particularly often). I started carrying my ten pound Oxford around with it, along with a highlighter and some of those yellow sticky flags. I marked the heck out of my three dollar copy.
A Long Way Gone is one of those books where I was simultaneously crying, screaming and beaming the entire time I read it. I seriously must have looked like an idiot reading it at school. Never, ever has a book ever made me think as hard as these two did. They’re set in such a different world than mine has ever approached. In Kaffir Boy, it said in the newspapers in Alexandria that a man named Martin Luther King was assassinated for fighting for freedom in America and they didn’t know where that was. Even the mother the family only knew the geography of Africa. In A Long Way Gone this boy is a junior lieutenant at the age I was when I graduated elementary school. I’ve known about the struggles of Africa for a long time, but nothing has ever made me feel what was happening like these two have. People struggle so hard for everything that they get there that it makes my public school, Netflix subscribed, privileged white American existence seem ridiculous.
These books are eating my brain.
In a good way.
Read them both,
(Also, I realize that the formatting of the titles is a bit strange, but I actually couldn’t make myself italicize these titles. They deserve to have the >strong< tag all over them)