The Radiance of Tomorrow Review
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Unabridged Audiobook: 6 CDs (8 hours)
Read by Dion Graham


One of my favorite things about books is their ability to transport readers to other times and distant lands, allowing us to connect with other cultures. And with the audio version of The Radiance of Tomorrow, author Ishmael Beah takes readers to Sierra Leone, where generations of characters set out to rebuild their homes and their way of life.

The story takes place in Imperi, a village that’s been torn apart by civil war. After the war ends, its people slowly begin making their way home. Starting with the town’s elders, they work together to clean up the remnants of the fighting that took so much from them: their homes, their families, their way of life.

Each person who returns to Imperi has a story to tell, but the novel focuses on Bokarie, a teacher who struggles to support his family and uphold the village’s culture and traditions as everything changes around him.

  
 
The Radiance of Tomorrow is a powerful novel about starting over—about holding on to the past while bending and adjusting and planning for the future. The story of Imperi isn’t what you might expect. It’s sometimes uplifting, sometimes heartbreaking, but always moving. Even in the most disheartening moments—when friends die, when food and water become scarce—there’s still an underlying sense of hopefulness. It seems as though the people of this resilient community have endured so much, yet they always manage to find a way to work together, to help each other, to survive each new hardship.

The characters are always adapting to the changes that their village continues to face. Though they returned to Imperi hoping to go back to their old lives (or, for some, to lives they’ve only heard about), they’re forced to make adjustments. But while the elders often mourn the loss of old traditions, the younger characters are more willing to move forward with strength, creativity, and hope for the future. And both their suffering and their dreams make the novel a memorable journey.

But perhaps even more memorable than the characters and their stories is Beah’s remarkable voice—which is beautifully narrated by Dion Graham. The Sierra Leone native writes in the style of his homeland, using the rich, poetic descriptions of his native tongue. And Graham’s narration gives it rhythm and inflection, making it sometimes sound more like a song than a novel.

It may not always make for light listening, but The Radiance of Tomorrow is a stunning audio experience. Though it’s sure to be an outstanding read in any format, this is one that’s best heard instead of read.


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