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Radiance of Tomorrow

Title: Radiance of Tomorrow

Author: Ishmael Beah

Genre: fiction historical

Summary: Radiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah shares the struggles and determination of the Imperi, Sierra Leone community post the Sierra Leone Civil War. Many of their struggles were a result of the invasion and impacts of a foreign mining company.

Thoughts before reading the book: Since finding out that my maternal lineage traces back to Sierra Leone, I’ve become more interested in learning about Sierra Leonean stories. Being that Radiance of Tomorrow is a historical fiction book, I was interested in learning stories that showed me what one's life might have been like post the Sierra Leone Civil War.

First thoughts after reading the book: Beah did a great job featuring characters from different walks of life and their struggles following the Sierra Leone Civil War:

  • Elders, who declared Imperi as their only home and witnessed the vanishing of traditions and sacred land.

  • Those who were survivors of the war and who witnessed the death of their loved ones.

  • Those who compromise their ethics by getting shady, unethical jobs just to put food on their family's table.

  • Young children, who only held the beautiful pre-war stories that their parents told them to try to protect their innocence.

  • Former child soldiers learning how to be normal civilians while holding regret and anger in their hearts due to their past sins.

  • Those who endured horrific amputations during the war and now receive stares and sympathy from strangers.

On top of these many struggles, a foreign mining company moves into town and impacts Imperi in major ways such as contaminating the clean water source, traveling by foot became less safe due to live power lines on the ground, hit and runs due to speeding cars, unsafe mining working conditions, increased harassment and rape cases, and destroyed sacred grounds. What hurt me the most was the lack of government leadership, support, and advocacy when the community would voice these concerns to the Paramount Chief.

I loved that the theme of storytelling could be seen throughout the book! Storytelling was used to pass along wisdom, for entertainment, and as guidance for the loss. I especially enjoyed the relationship that blossomed between an elder and a young girl through storytelling. I imagine that the young girl will continue the passing down of the oral stories to those she will become fond of as the elder was of her.

.....when you tell a story, when you give out a story, it is no longer yours; it belongs to everyone who encounters it and everyone who takes it in.

Radiance of Tomorrow was a slow, sad read for me and my heart ached throughout this entire book. The ending of the book didn’t provide much of a conclusion for me, but rather a small ounce of hope for a better tomorrow. I think anyone who is looking to learn of a post- Sierra Leone Civil War experience should check out Radiance of Tomorrow.

- Maya & The Spine Down



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