A Long Way Gone

How does Ishmael's concept of family change throughout the memoir from his early life in Mattru Jong, to the uncle with whom he is reunited, and to his American family Laura?

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Ishmael, of course, had his natural family. Although his mother and father were separated, Ishmael seemed content to go back and forth between their houses. When the war came to their area Ishmael is separated from his parents. He and his older brother Junior are left alone. Soon Ismael is even separated from Junior and a group of traveling boys become his family. Still Ishmael is terrified of what might be around the corner and it isn't until he meets a lieutenant in the Sierra Leone Armed Forces when he finds a new family. Here he fights along other child soldiers. Although he is always close to being killed, Ishmael feels relatively safe and part of something structured. It isn't until Ishmael is rescued by UNICEF where he finally gets a foster family that he is actually safe. Ironically the adjustment to a new culture and safety proves one of the more challenging periods in Ishmael's life. His American family is also a challenge not so much as it is a bad fit but Ismael must deal with the past that haunts him.