I like to think i'm being a very active reader. I underline a lot of quotes a lot/phrases that i think are important and I sometimes write down on the sides of the pages important things that have happened in 1-2 words. At the beginning, I preferred A Long Way Gone over A House On Mango Street because A Long Way Gone is 10x more interesting and eye opening while A House On Mango Street feels very broken up and hard to understand and follow along but i'm starting to prefer A House On Mango Street a little more because I love the way Cisneros intertwines metaphors with her text. While it may be hard to understand what's happening in the scene, it makes you think hard and feel a little more. A Long Way Gone is just 100% depressing 100% of the time, the kind of book that makes you feel like you need a therapist afterwords, because you're getting PTSD from the character getting PTSD.
An important survival skill I picked up on, while it may not seem like a real "survival" skill but I learned quite about it in one of my psych class is pure dissociation. Dissociation is basically separating or detaching yourself from something that's happening to you to detaching yourself from the world around you. Beah is experiencing migraines and pains from all these bottled up experiences but refuses to speak about it. He is living with the mentality: Just because something has happened, doesn't mean you are to talk about it. For example, Beah and his friends have been found by some soldiers and taken peacefully back to their village and they were put to work in the kitchen, washing dishes, cutting vegetables for meals, etc and Beah would busy himself with going to the river to get water for the village: "It was the only way I could distract myself from the thoughts that were giving me severe headaches"(Beah 102). He was suffering and refused to talk to anyone about it, possibly afraid he would be laughed at because let's be honest, many have had worse happen to them. I guess it's just the greatest lessons/skills are the ones you don't quite remember learning.