A character other than Ishmael that I felt was important in this story was Laura Simms. Although she was not talked about much in the story, she was the reason Beah had been able to leave Freetown and move to New York City. She provided a safe haven for him in a time of need and aided him while he started a new life. Even though the story doesn't tell of when Beah reaches New York to live, in chapter 20 he briefly shares how they will become close in the years to follow, he says, "When she became my mother years later,"(pg 197). He also says, "I didn't know Laura's house was going to be my future home."(pg 200).
At first it seemed that rehabilitation was not possible. From disobeying the rules, to violent outburst, Ishmael made it clear that he did not like taking orders from civilians. After some time he overcame those obstacles and was a different person. As the expression goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink it. Ishmael was given the resources to start his rehabilitation, but at first refused. Eventually, he came around to the idea and began changing. I do believe that rehabilitation is possible, but I also believe that someone must decide to begin the healing process their self.
I would not have any issues if Ishmael was moving into my neighborhood. Even though he had trouble at first with rehabilitation, Ishmael made a drastic life change and could control his anger much better than before.
I feel a great lesson to be taken from A Long Way Gone would be that our past doesn't define our future. When life is not going in your favor, find the courage to change what you can. In chapter 21 Ishmael says, "I had to leave, because I was afraid if I stayed in Freetown any longer, I was going to end up being a soldier again or my former army friends would kill me if I refused."(pg 209). At that point his future in Freetown was uncertain, and the possible outcomes were not looking good. Ishmael found the courage to leave and start a new life in New York City.
When the end of the book came, I was left wondering about what happened after Ishmael moved to New York City. I was curious what type of work he has done since moving and the challenges he faced after arriving in NYC to live. What I have been able to find is that once Ishmael made it to NYC, he attended the United Nations International School, then earned a degree in Political Science from Oberlin College. By 2007 Beah became the UNICEF's Advocate for Children Affected by War and also started the Ishmael Beah foundation to help children of war. Beah co-founded the Network of Young People Affected by War in 2008 and is Vice-Chair of Narrative 4.