“Radiance of Tommorow” by Ishmael Beah (2015)
Genre: Fiction, Cultural
Page Length: 272 pages (paperback edition)
At the center of Radiance of Tomorrow are Benjamin and Bockarie, two longtime friends who return to their hometown, Imperi, after the civil war. The village is in ruins, the ground covered in bones. As more villagers begin to come back, Benjamin and Bockarie try to forge a new community by taking up their former posts as teachers, but they’re beset by obstacles: a scarcity of food; a rash of murders, thievery, rape, and retaliation; and the depredations of a foreign mining company intent on sullying the town’s water supply and blocking its paths with electric wires. As Benjamin and Bockarie search for a way to restore order, they’re forced to reckon with the uncertainty of their past and future alike.
With the gentle lyricism of a dream and the moral clarity of a fable, Radiance of Tomorrow is a powerful novel about preserving what means the most to us, even in uncertain times. (description from Goodreads)
Set in the town of Imperi (Sierra Leone), Radiance of Tomorrow follows the story of two friends that return to their war-torn town along with many others. The townspeople try to be hopeful and gain back what was lost from the devastation of war. Their buildings have been destroyed, family members are missing or dead, and they are left with an overwhelming broken feeling.
From the beginning of the story you truly feel for and empathize with each of the characters who are trying their hardest to pick up the pieces, start anew, and who try to regain a sense of their past selves. Every person has a heartbreaking story to tell, but through all the destruction shines a bright beacon of hope. The dynamic of the (slowly rebuilt) neighborhood changes once corporations who claim to do “good business” for the town start to dismantle all of their hard work. Tensions arise and the people of Imperi are left to figure out how to resolve things and reclaim what is theirs.
This book was an interesting character driven plot with lots of different people from various backgrounds. There are many different personalities and stories that are shared with readers. They paint a cultural and historical background and share storytelling in the region and history of the area. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story the most. The character development was strong and I liked how the townspeople work together and look out for each other like one big family.
This book explores a variety of themes such as: rebirth, family, industrialization, environmental issues, preservation of cultures, including education. While many themes in a novel can sometimes be overwhelming to readers, all the themes in this novel came together cohesively.
Radiance of Tomorrow is heartbreaking and hard to read at times. The people in this deal with so much tragedy, but despite everything they cling to the hope of a brighter future and work their hardest for a better life.