The Girl Who Smiled Beads
A riveting story of dislocation, survival, and the power of stories to break or save us.Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when her mother and father began to speak in whispers, when neighbors began to disappear, and when she heard the loud, ugly sounds her brother said were "thunder." In 1994, she and her fifteen-year-old sister, Claire, fled the Rwandan massacre and spent the next six years wandering through seven African countries, searching for safety--perpetually hungry, imprisoned and abused, enduring and escaping refugee camps, finding unexpected kindness, witnessing inhuman cruelty. They did not know whether their parents were dead or alive.When Clemantine was twelve, she and her sister were granted asylum in the United States, where she embarked on another journey--to excavate her past and, after years of being made to feel less than human, claim her individuality.Raw, urgent, and bracingly original, The Girl Who Smiled Beads captures the true costs and aftershocks of war: what is forever destroyed; what can be repaired; the fragility of memory; the disorientation that comes of other people seeing you only as broken--thinking you need, and want, to be saved. But it is about more than the brutality of war. It is about owning your experiences, about the life we create: intricately detailed, painful, beautiful, a work in progress.

The Girl Who Smiled Beads Details

TitleThe Girl Who Smiled Beads
Author
ReleaseApr 24th, 2018
PublisherDoubleday Canada
ISBN-139780385687003
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Cultural, Africa, War, Biography Memoir, History, Adult, Biography, Eastern Africa, Rwanda

The Girl Who Smiled Beads Review

  • Resh (The Book Satchel)
    January 1, 1970
    I'd recommend this book in a heart beat.
  • Laurie
    January 1, 1970
    The title of the book is based on a story that Clementine's nanny, Mukamana, would tell her. It was about a beautiful, magical girl who roamed the earth, smiling beads, and it was her favorite story. How ironic that Clementine ended up roaming the world.The references to different books throughout the memoir is interesting. Clementine read many she could relate to: Night by Ellie Weisel, Sula by Toni Morrison, Infidel by Ayana Hirsi Ali, The Natural History of Destruction and Austerlitz by W.G. The title of the book is based on a story that Clementine's nanny, Mukamana, would tell her. It was about a beautiful, magical girl who roamed the earth, smiling beads, and it was her favorite story. How ironic that Clementine ended up roaming the world.The references to different books throughout the memoir is interesting. Clementine read many she could relate to: Night by Ellie Weisel, Sula by Toni Morrison, Infidel by Ayana Hirsi Ali, The Natural History of Destruction and Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald. Each of these books helped Clementine to feel she wasn't alone in her thoughts and heartaches. So many times as we read a book we can relate to the characters or the situation and feel a little bit better about ourselves and life. It is a comfort to know we are not alone and Clemantine felt the same. Someone finally understood.One of the most moving passages in the book is found on pages 94-95. It begins "The word genocide cannot tell you how I felt…" Such a moving and heartbreaking excerpt. Her description has remained with me. (The passage was too long to write here.)I found this book extremely hard to read. The descriptions of Claire's and Clementine's living conditions are beyond my ability to comprehend or even imagine. No human being should be subjected to the circumstances these two girls lived through. This is a book that should be required reading in high school so we never forget what happened and it is never repeated. A 5 star book.Each stanza of the poem by Maya Angelou, "Still I Rise" was a mantra to Clementine. It is beautiful and fitting. Here is a portion that appears on page 213.Did you want to see me broken?Bowed head and lowered eyes?You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I'll rise.
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  • Cheryl
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you Goodreads and Crown (Penguin-Random House) for choosing me as a winner of this ARC!12 years after being separated from their parents during the war in Rwanda, Clementine and her older sister, Claire are invited to appear on the Oprah show. Clementine had written an essay in response to Elie Wiesel’s book “Night” on surviving the Holocaust, and was to receive recognition for such. They had no idea they were to be reunited with their parents, younger sibling and recent addition. Both had Thank you Goodreads and Crown (Penguin-Random House) for choosing me as a winner of this ARC!12 years after being separated from their parents during the war in Rwanda, Clementine and her older sister, Claire are invited to appear on the Oprah show. Clementine had written an essay in response to Elie Wiesel’s book “Night” on surviving the Holocaust, and was to receive recognition for such. They had no idea they were to be reunited with their parents, younger sibling and recent addition. Both had new lives in America. It was an awkward and short meeting. It was the start to the end of their story. The war that brought them here. They grew up, 9 years apart, in what could be deemed an upper middle class life. Somewhat privileged and doted upon. Claire, curious beyond politeness, would not take the easy answer for life’s questions. Her nanny would placate her with symbolic stories and songs. These moments would later help her through the too many devastations of her life. Things start to change. Like “little pellets you drop in water that expand into huge sponges." she laments “My life was the opposite. Everything shrunk.” They sequester away in their home. School is stopped, the market no longer visited, days are cut short and boarded up inside. The noise outside increased, no stories could calm the unease culminating daily. Tense whispers of “them” coming unsettled Clementine. Guests had always been looked forward to. At 6, so much did not make sense. Then they fled. First, the girls were sent to their grandmother’s home, but soon fled there, as well. Thus the exodus began. From pampered to refugee, malnourished, exposed, forsaken. Always on the run. 6 countries and years later, they arrive in America. Claire, now married with 2 children of her own, and Clementine. A host family welcomes them all. A new life awaits them. But that’s not before life in their first refugee camp. As dismal as you can imagine, Clementine tries to retain her identity when so much has been taken away. And the yoyo unwinds. From refugee camp day to day, to the fresh start, stateside. Chapters break the dread, one to the lesser other. The innocence of a child, surviving horrific circumstances to a savvy teen, creating her own. From one spot of solace chased into another. Learning as she went to allow nothing to give comfort, as tomorrow, it may be gone. As much a story of perseverance as a book of theology. Wonderful tidbits of wisdom worthy of a bumper sticker or journal cover. I could fill this entire page with the words of wisdom gleamed, but with it being an ARC, they may not be there when you read it, so I abstain. My qualm was it was all in snippets. Synopses. Chapters that never got finished. While, in its own way, it was probably for the better, but there were things I wanted more of. Did she give out all her bracelets? How was her trip to Oprah’s school? I wanted to feel more of her happiness. I wanted to know she was ok. The repetition of not knowing herself, hiding herself throughout life. Was she ever complete? A very evoking telling of the horrors suffered by a very little girl in a very big war. God Bless you, Clementine. May you find your inner happiness at last.
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  • Mainlinebooker
    January 1, 1970
    Powerful, powerful novel painted with shades of raw urgency that propelled me to read this in two days. Clementine and her older sister Clara,born into a middle class family in Rwanda, were sucked from their family's bosom due to the vile nature of war and internecine conflict between the Hutus and the Tutsis. The next several years they spent on the run from country to country and from one refugee camp to another finally ending up in the United States,hoping this was the land of the American dr Powerful, powerful novel painted with shades of raw urgency that propelled me to read this in two days. Clementine and her older sister Clara,born into a middle class family in Rwanda, were sucked from their family's bosom due to the vile nature of war and internecine conflict between the Hutus and the Tutsis. The next several years they spent on the run from country to country and from one refugee camp to another finally ending up in the United States,hoping this was the land of the American dream. What makes this book different from all other refugee books is the riveting dialogue and self exploration that accompanies Clementine's growth as she lands in a foster care's family in Chicago and eventually on to Yale as a undergraduate. It was eye opening to observe the circumstances that formed her personality, to contemplate the horrors that she underwent each and every day, and to be humbled by my own insensitivity as to how questions might have been perceived as she tried to claw her way towards her own humanity. I cannot recommend this enough!
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  • Julia Keizer
    January 1, 1970
    Magnificent, emotional and raw, beautifully written.      This novel takes you on a journey of survival and doesn't ever let up. Clemantine is constantly living in a struggle for survival, even after moving to the United States. She continues to try and find her own identity. The start of the book shows the life she had, as a happy young child with her whole life ahead of her and that life suddenly taken from her in a blink of an eye. Everything changed and she had no explanation. Clemantine has Magnificent, emotional and raw, beautifully written.      This novel takes you on a journey of survival and doesn't ever let up. Clemantine is constantly living in a struggle for survival, even after moving to the United States. She continues to try and find her own identity. The start of the book shows the life she had, as a happy young child with her whole life ahead of her and that life suddenly taken from her in a blink of an eye. Everything changed and she had no explanation. Clemantine has remembered the six years of the tortured journey her and her sister were forced to take through seven African countries in raw and precise detail. Clear and accurate sentences that made me feel her anger from within the text. The hardships and peril these two children have to face for seven long and terrifying years will make you feel lucky for every extra luxury you have in your life and make you want to reach out and help in any way you can. Powerfully written. I loved her short precise sentences, it made her story more powerful. She didn't need to elaborate to get her message across to the audience.Clemantine is now a refugee advocate sitting on many panels to get the message to others but still struggles with her own identity. Trying to connect with the rest of her family that has also sought asylum in the United States. A moving and thought-provoking autobiography. Will be recommending this book to many people.
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  • Jenee Rager
    January 1, 1970
    How would you explain genocide to a six year old, especially if they are there to witness it first hand? I don't have an answer, and no one in Clemantine's life did either. For the first six years of her life she lived in relative affluence, security and comfort, then everything changed. She and her sister, Claire, were separated from their family and forced to flee Rwanda as the civil war started. Claire and Clemantine spent the next six years fleeing one African country after another as war, f How would you explain genocide to a six year old, especially if they are there to witness it first hand? I don't have an answer, and no one in Clemantine's life did either. For the first six years of her life she lived in relative affluence, security and comfort, then everything changed. She and her sister, Claire, were separated from their family and forced to flee Rwanda as the civil war started. Claire and Clemantine spent the next six years fleeing one African country after another as war, famine, and cruelity nipped at their heals. They finally were able to immigrate to the United States, where because of her high level of intelligence and natural grace, Clemantine was given opportunities such as private school, and an Ivy League education."The Girl Who Smiled Beads" is basically Clemantine's struggle to come to terms with everything she lost in Rwanda, and had to endure in the following years, with opulence, yet selfishness she discovers in the United States. The book is beautiful, haunting, and powerful. It is a story I know I'll reread over and over again, and each time come away with a new interpretation and new lessons. I'm very grateful to the goodreads giveaway program for this win.
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  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    Finished this book (courtesy of the Penguin First To Read Program) a couple days ago and have been having the hardest time trying to write a review. I have so many thoughts; however, I know nothing I write will adequately convey the beauty and importance of this book. Clemantine Wamariya was only six years old when she and her older sister fled their grandmother’s home during the 1994 Rwandan massacre. Clemantine is very honest in her memoir - you can feel anger, uncertainty, and hope coming off Finished this book (courtesy of the Penguin First To Read Program) a couple days ago and have been having the hardest time trying to write a review. I have so many thoughts; however, I know nothing I write will adequately convey the beauty and importance of this book. Clemantine Wamariya was only six years old when she and her older sister fled their grandmother’s home during the 1994 Rwandan massacre. Clemantine is very honest in her memoir - you can feel anger, uncertainty, and hope coming off the pages as you read them. She doesn’t need to detail the atrocities that she witnessed - they are implied through the endless ways she and her sister sought safety over seven years through seven countries and numerous refugee camps to eventually settle in the United States where the healing part of their journey begins and continues still. I will be thinking about Clemantine and her words for a long time.
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  • Sue Dix
    January 1, 1970
    This is an ARC. This is one of the most difficult books I have read, yet it is an essential read. It is at once a memoir and an expose. How can I ever relate to Clemantine’s life? I will never know her tragedy. The terrible genocide that was visited upon the Tutsi by the Hutu majority government becomes more than real in Clemantine’s telling. I will never think of a refugee camp again with anything but horror.
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  • Katie
    January 1, 1970
    This true story is a remarkable memoir of perseverance and inner strength. Clemantine uses her experiences to remind us all that our common humanity binds us all together, no matter what our external circumstances. She is wise beyond her years. As a reader, I am so grateful that she shared her story and uses this platform as a call to action.
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  • Vickie
    January 1, 1970
    I feel really lucky that I received this book through Goodreads, because this is so well written. I couldn't stop reading this memoir by a young woman and the life somehow she lived through. She makes you think about the after effects of war andhow it affects her life and relationship with her family.Please read this wonderful book!
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  • Patricia
    January 1, 1970
    This book should be required reading, especially for those who consider refugees to be a drain on society. Clemantine and her sister Claire were living a comfortable life with their mother, a devout Catholic, and father, a successful businessman, when war turned them overnight into refugees. Fleeing the Rwanda genocide, they wandered through eight African countries, in and out of dismal and inhuman refugee camps, across dangerous lakes and rivers, and finally to the United States. Clemantine fou This book should be required reading, especially for those who consider refugees to be a drain on society. Clemantine and her sister Claire were living a comfortable life with their mother, a devout Catholic, and father, a successful businessman, when war turned them overnight into refugees. Fleeing the Rwanda genocide, they wandered through eight African countries, in and out of dismal and inhuman refugee camps, across dangerous lakes and rivers, and finally to the United States. Clemantine found a generous Chicago family and community to support her and help her gain a top-notch education. She ends up a guest on the Oprah show and becomes a well-respected international speaker. But, at heart, she remains a refugee—fearful, untrusting, broken. The book is co-authored by New York Times writer Elizabeth Weil and the two work well together in general. It is strongest at the beginning, when Clemantine tells the story of her escape, but it feels a bit scattered by the end. This could be because that's what Clemantine is—scattered across two continents and multiple families, her body safe but her soul fragile and damaged. All in all a beautiful but heartbreaking work on the destructive power of hate and war.Thank you, Net Galley and Crown Publishing for a review copy of this book in advance of publication.
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  • Jill Dobbe
    January 1, 1970
    This is the story of two sisters who escaped the Rwandan genocide and eventually reunited with their family on the Oprah show. The author, Clemantine Wamariya, reveals how she and her sister traveled across Africa to live in a variety of refugee camps staying alive any way they could.Clementine tells her story from a very young age when her family breaks up and she and her sister, Claire, are left on their own. They both end up in the U.S. and are given substantial help. Clementine lives with Am This is the story of two sisters who escaped the Rwandan genocide and eventually reunited with their family on the Oprah show. The author, Clemantine Wamariya, reveals how she and her sister traveled across Africa to live in a variety of refugee camps staying alive any way they could.Clementine tells her story from a very young age when her family breaks up and she and her sister, Claire, are left on their own. They both end up in the U.S. and are given substantial help. Clementine lives with American families, attends school, and becomes a sought after speaker all the while trying to come to grips with her past and present.Well written, informative, and eye opening. Clementine's story is one of bravery, personal strength, and optimism.Thank you NetGally and Crown Publishing.
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  • Casey
    January 1, 1970
    I gave this book 5/5. This book touched my soul. I don't know what else to say. Words cannot express the lessons that this book has taught me. Wonderful Job!!! To read my full review follow the link below:https://lifebooksandcc.blogspot.com/2...
  • Leah
    January 1, 1970
    loved this book. this was a goodreads give away for me.
  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    I've asked this before, but how do you put stars on another person's suffering? So my five star rating is indicative of the necessity of this story and the quality of the writing. To say I enjoyed this would be... not true. It's a story that punches you in the heart, but then sticks to your ribs. It makes you a little sick, a little impressed, and I'd be surprised if you don't question your own narrative and self while reading it. It was difficult to put down.Clemantine Wamariya describes her ow I've asked this before, but how do you put stars on another person's suffering? So my five star rating is indicative of the necessity of this story and the quality of the writing. To say I enjoyed this would be... not true. It's a story that punches you in the heart, but then sticks to your ribs. It makes you a little sick, a little impressed, and I'd be surprised if you don't question your own narrative and self while reading it. It was difficult to put down.Clemantine Wamariya describes her own book pretty well right in the very beginning: "Often, still, my own life story feels fragmented, like beads unstrung. Each time I scoop up my memories, the assortment is slightly different." And this is how she tells her story: in fragments, like beads of different colors from different times in her life that she puts onto one string. So at times it was hard to follow her story in a linear fashion, but for me it didn't matter. The story was conversational: I can imagine listening to her over tea and telling me these story fragments, one at a time, as she remembers them.At first, I didn't necessarily connect this story to the Holocaust. And then Wamariya made the connection herself, while at the same time tearing it apart: the Rwandan genocide is exactly like the Holocaust, and she identified strongly with Elie Wiesel's narrative. And at the same time it's nothing like the Holocaust, because it has its own unique horror. Not all human tragedy is the same. Her ability to do this over and over again: draw parallels and connections while simultaneously pulling things apart is hugely impressive. She begins her story with normality, slowly leading into the experience of fleeing Rwanda and the deprivation and degradation she encountered. But before she sinks too far into that horror, she pulls the reader ahead to her time in the United States. And from there we go back and forth, following her wild spectrum of hope and terror, anger and admiration. And much like in The Warmth of Other Suns, fleeing one evil into a safer place doesn't mean that all the bad times are over. It's all too easy to think that the Holocaust is in the past, that the evil in Rwanda is over, that Wamariya escaped, so now everything is fine. But I remember learning about the Hutus and the Tutsis in school. I would have been in middle school I think. This episode of history isn't so far away, and similar tragedies continue to happen. Towards the end, Wamariya says "I know it is a privilege to have the safety, time, comfort, and education to try to shape my experience into something coherent, to think critically and creatively about my life." It may be a privilege, but she makes the most of the opportunity. Reviewed from an ARC.
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  • Caryl Williams
    January 1, 1970
    Clemantine Wamariya was a young child of six when she was separated from her parents at the outbreak of a bloody civil war in Rwanda.Along with her sister Claire, who was twelve at the time, the two girls had to leave their comfortable home and life in Kigali and had no option but to travel miles alone, often on foot across Rwanda to refugee camps and holding centres. They barely managed to exist in often appalling conditions.From there they overcame great difficulties to cross borders into othe Clemantine Wamariya was a young child of six when she was separated from her parents at the outbreak of a bloody civil war in Rwanda.Along with her sister Claire, who was twelve at the time, the two girls had to leave their comfortable home and life in Kigali and had no option but to travel miles alone, often on foot across Rwanda to refugee camps and holding centres. They barely managed to exist in often appalling conditions.From there they overcame great difficulties to cross borders into other parts of Africa, before eventually emigrating to America. Oprah Winfrey featured their story on her show and reunited them with their parents, the first time they’d seen them for decades.The book is a powerful read and the author pays full tribute to her older sister’s entrepreneurial skills at earning funds along the way at each stop to fund their needs and also those of Claire’s own children. Along the way Claire married an aid worker Rob who treated her very badly and they had two children together.The overall insidious effect on Clemantine, separated from her parents and just existing as a homeless and stateless refugee throughout most of her life becomes clearer with each chapter.Although fostered by an understanding couple after arriving in America and going through the school system and then onto university there wasn’t a sense of actually belonging anywhere, or even knowing how to act or just be. Clemantine felt as though she needed to be whoever the person she was with wanted her to be.When other students are taught about war and the ravages of war, she becomes angry with them for not truly understanding the subject and what she and other refugees have to live through and endure.Subsequent visits back to her homeland had varying effects on Clemantine and stirred up powerful emotions each time.Topical at the moment. The book made me think a lot about the state of mind of refugees and how the terrible suffering they’ve endured can affect them very badly and manifest itself in ways that probably only they themselves can really comprehend.I remember being aware of the horrors of the Rwandan civil war as portrayed on our TV news channels by reporters at the time. The sanitised version of course. For tea-time viewing.A nursing acquaintance of mine had volunteered with an overseas voluntary medical aid group and had been working in an operating theatre when men yielding machetes had broken in. She ended up traumatised and recovering in a Swiss clinicThis was a fascinating and deeply impassioned heart-rending read and one that will stay with me. It will undoubtedly be one of THE books of the year.
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  • sylvie
    January 1, 1970
    Oh, I have such a difficult time reviewing Clemantine Wamariya's memoir, should one be much older than 28 to write a memoir? Clemantine at 28 lived a life time, yet as she tells her readers "what is next".The title THE GIRL WHO SMILED BEADS has it's origins from a fairytale without ending, urging a child to ask what is next...Next arrived when Clemantine age 4 and her sister Claire age 15 escaped into a sweet potato field, away from family and friends, away from Rwanda and the most horrific geno Oh, I have such a difficult time reviewing Clemantine Wamariya's memoir, should one be much older than 28 to write a memoir? Clemantine at 28 lived a life time, yet as she tells her readers "what is next".The title THE GIRL WHO SMILED BEADS has it's origins from a fairytale without ending, urging a child to ask what is next...Next arrived when Clemantine age 4 and her sister Claire age 15 escaped into a sweet potato field, away from family and friends, away from Rwanda and the most horrific genocide in modern times...traveling on foot from refugee camps to refugee camps, places of hunger, diseases, death. Death of body, death of spirit, death of self.Many years passed before Clemantine and Claire found refuge in the United States. Clemantine expresses with deep clarity the stigma attached to the status 'refugee' which affected her in years to come. ".....other speaking invitations followed and my talks where magic. At the end of each one people were in tears. But they understood nothing-least of all, that I wasn't special. There were so many of me, thousands, millions. I just happen to be the one standing in the room. Don't cry for me, I wanted to say. Cry for them, it will take you a hundred lifetimes to cry for all of them..."Clemantine and her sister Claire's resilience is beyond human understanding...as is the resilience of so many human beings who's life is up turned by war.....I have read novels regarding the Rwandan genocide, well researched books.THE GIRL WHO SMILED BEADS Is a first hand account which should be part of every school curriculum.Thank you NetGalley for this advance copy
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  • Patti Parker Markgraf
    January 1, 1970
    4.5...Wow!! What a magnificently, powerful and emotionally raw memoir. This greatly impacted my entire being--down to the most basic fiber. Additionally, I was surprised at how effectively it humbled me--making me aware of my ignorance and my sheltered experiences. I now realize that US refugee status does not necessarily aid in the healing of life's horror-filled transgressions--that perhaps, there is no correct formula for healing. I was sent this ARC with the understanding that I would provid 4.5...Wow!! What a magnificently, powerful and emotionally raw memoir. This greatly impacted my entire being--down to the most basic fiber. Additionally, I was surprised at how effectively it humbled me--making me aware of my ignorance and my sheltered experiences. I now realize that US refugee status does not necessarily aid in the healing of life's horror-filled transgressions--that perhaps, there is no correct formula for healing. I was sent this ARC with the understanding that I would provide an honest review (To be released to the general public in April of 2018). Thank you, so very much for providing me with this masterful story.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    An honest and courageous memoir, that is truly personal and insightful. Wamariya recognises any privilege she may have gained, and the opportunities she has been given, but rightly allows herself to acknowledge and feel the damage of her early experiences.
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  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    Note to self: First to Read galley expires 4/24
  • Janette Mcmahon
    January 1, 1970
    Extremely short but powerful look at what comes after running for your life in a conflict filled area.
  • Michelle Olms
    January 1, 1970
    Great book
  • Cyd
    January 1, 1970
    Maybe 3.5.
  • Wanda
    January 1, 1970
    A survivor’s raw and unfiltered account of the Rwandan genocide. In it, Wamariya tells how she, her sister and her sister’s children fled from one refugee camp to another after being displaced from their home in Rwanda. Their journey lasted six years and crossed seven African countries before they eventually found their way to the U.S. And as much as this is the author’s story, she doesn’t tell it as if it’s just about her. She tells her story in a way that puts a human face on the numbing stati A survivor’s raw and unfiltered account of the Rwandan genocide. In it, Wamariya tells how she, her sister and her sister’s children fled from one refugee camp to another after being displaced from their home in Rwanda. Their journey lasted six years and crossed seven African countries before they eventually found their way to the U.S. And as much as this is the author’s story, she doesn’t tell it as if it’s just about her. She tells her story in a way that puts a human face on the numbing statistics of genocide and other such atrocities. To me, the most striking passage was one connected to her addressing a group about her experiences, where she explained, “I wasn’t special. There were so many of me, thousands, millions, I just happened to be the one standing in the room.” I received this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways.
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  • monsterlyleigh
    January 1, 1970
    This is one of the best books I've ever read. Blatantly honest about humanity and it's brutalities and generosities. This woman has found a way to tell her story in a way that is relatable, even if your life experiences are quite different from hers. Making a story about survivng the Rwandan conflict this easy to read and relatable is an amazing feat and I commend the authors on creating something that everyone not only needs to read, but will be able to read and understand. We are all just peop This is one of the best books I've ever read. Blatantly honest about humanity and it's brutalities and generosities. This woman has found a way to tell her story in a way that is relatable, even if your life experiences are quite different from hers. Making a story about survivng the Rwandan conflict this easy to read and relatable is an amazing feat and I commend the authors on creating something that everyone not only needs to read, but will be able to read and understand. We are all just people. I love this story because it sucks and then it doesn't and then it sucks again. It follows the course of life. It is simple and intensely complex at the same time and that has been fully expressed.
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  • J.D. Dehart
    January 1, 1970
    First with this book is the clarity of writing. The book is written in clear way that gets this powerful story across well for a wide range of readers.What’s more is the story itself. This is the most powerful story of culture that I have read since What is the What by Eggers. What makes this book especially powerful is that it is told firsthand.I can honestly say that I am glad I read this book.
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  • Betty
    January 1, 1970
    As I read this powerful story I couldn’t help comparing it to the Holocaust. Imagine how it would be to grow up in a middle class family among others just like yourself. Then suddenly life changes. She was only four years old when her world started shrinking. She could no longer go to kindergarten. She was forbidden to play with her oldest friend. No one goes to the market anymore. There is no running water in the house; electricity is on and off.Then came the time that Clementine (age 15) and C As I read this powerful story I couldn’t help comparing it to the Holocaust. Imagine how it would be to grow up in a middle class family among others just like yourself. Then suddenly life changes. She was only four years old when her world started shrinking. She could no longer go to kindergarten. She was forbidden to play with her oldest friend. No one goes to the market anymore. There is no running water in the house; electricity is on and off.Then came the time that Clementine (age 15) and Claire (now six years old) had to escape. Imagine a young child having to walk for hours. She sees people sleeping in water – sleeping and sleeping – bodies floating. The next six years they move from one country to another, from one refugee camp to another. Along with the atrocities they encounter, they also experience kindness in unlikely places. They eventually end up in the US, not knowing the fate of their parents. Clementine writes of their emotional reaction to all this – how Claire shuts down and how they learn to not trust anyone. Clementine draws on her inner strength to determine who she is as an individual and explore who she wants to be. After being treated as something less than human, she now searches for her own value.From this book we can learn the impact of war on humans. We can reach out to other refugees while recognizing that, for the children, their innocence is forever shattered. Clementine teaches us that some parts of the person can be repaired, some parts cannot be. While others saw her as “broken”, that is not how she saw herself.I used the word “horror” to describe how I felt when seeing the movie and hearing the speaker. Now there are other words to describe what I felt while reading this book – powerful, raw, devastating, hopeful, determined, and very, very brave.
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  • lisa
    January 1, 1970
    I would have a hard time explaining this book and exactly why I liked it so much. It carries within its pages a lot of complicated feelings. It is a memoir of a little girl whose life was torn apart by war, but this is only the surface of this book, and what Clementine Wamariya lived through (and continues to live through). I hesitate to even refer to this as a story, or a book since it's about experiences that actually happened to a young girl. Since Ms. Wamariya was so young when the genocide I would have a hard time explaining this book and exactly why I liked it so much. It carries within its pages a lot of complicated feelings. It is a memoir of a little girl whose life was torn apart by war, but this is only the surface of this book, and what Clementine Wamariya lived through (and continues to live through). I hesitate to even refer to this as a story, or a book since it's about experiences that actually happened to a young girl. Since Ms. Wamariya was so young when the genocide in Rwanda began the narrative doesn't go deeply into the history or background of the conflict (although lots of books are referenced within should one be interested). Instead the reader gets the information Wamariya remembers: the tension, the fleeing, the endless movement to safety.What made an impression on me was Wamariya's life after she arrived in the United States, and how she learned to navigate her way through school, and through giving bits of her life to those around her, who had no way of comprehending it. While reading her words, I got the impression that she is only beginning to make sense of what happened to her, and how it affects those around her. Everyone in her family, and in her country suffered something, but everyone experiences were so different that there is little comfort to be found with each other. Wamariya's words were incredible at making that point, the loneliness that comes from a trauma that no one else understands. I read this alongside Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot, and was struck by the similarities of two women trying to deal with their lives that have been marked by the trauma inflicted on them.
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  • Laurie White
    January 1, 1970
    "I did not understand the point of the word genocide. I resent and revile it now. The word is tidy and efficient. It holds no true emotion. It is impersonal when it needs to be intimate; cool and sterile when it needs to be gruesome. The word is hollow, true but disingenuous, a performance, the worst kind of lie....The word genocide cannot tell you, cannot make you feel, the way I felt in Rwanda....The word genocide cannot explain the never-ending pain, even if you live"First and foremost thank "I did not understand the point of the word genocide. I resent and revile it now. The word is tidy and efficient. It holds no true emotion. It is impersonal when it needs to be intimate; cool and sterile when it needs to be gruesome. The word is hollow, true but disingenuous, a performance, the worst kind of lie....The word genocide cannot tell you, cannot make you feel, the way I felt in Rwanda....The word genocide cannot explain the never-ending pain, even if you live"First and foremost thank you to the publishers at Crown Publishing (Penquin Random House) for providing me with a ARC edition through a Goodreads Giveway. Powerful is but one word to describe this book and how it can effect its reader. I was taken back by Clemantine's memories and her experiences of war. I am embarrassed to say I am not well read or familiar with the Rwandan massacre and/or its causes, so to read about it from the view of a six year old child till she was 12, was a riveting experience. It was a difficult read in the sense of the situations and circumstances she was forced to endure. In 1994 I was in high school and nothing about this conflict was on my radar. So to imagine and compare this 6 year olds world to mine at that time was an eye-opening and humbling experience. With everything taken away, she persevered and retained her identity through it all. A remarkable memoir, that I feel privileged to have read.
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  • Energy
    January 1, 1970
    The Girl Who Smiled Beads is a beautifully written, heart-wrenching story of Clementine's life. Living in war-torn Rwanda, she is sent away at the age of 6 with her sister Claire, 9 years her senior, destined to spend years as refugees. Even when she and Claire are brought to America to start their life over, she has trouble acclimating to the way of life. She wants to still be a child in a place that expects her to grow up. Her scars of the past run deep and her years as a refugee has hardened The Girl Who Smiled Beads is a beautifully written, heart-wrenching story of Clementine's life. Living in war-torn Rwanda, she is sent away at the age of 6 with her sister Claire, 9 years her senior, destined to spend years as refugees. Even when she and Claire are brought to America to start their life over, she has trouble acclimating to the way of life. She wants to still be a child in a place that expects her to grow up. Her scars of the past run deep and her years as a refugee has hardened her, closed her off from true human interaction. She cannot fit in, so she tries desperately to emulate those around her. To be the person people expect her to be, rather than finding a sense of self. But her sense of self is rooted in tragedy, and people are growing weary of her way of expressing it. She spends so many years trying to reconcile her feelings about the mass genocide, of why no one stepped in. While she is eventually reunited with her parents after 12 years of separation, it is stilted. No one wants to talk about the past, they want to keep it buried. Clementine cannot fathom why they do not want to compare stories, to talk about the years they were separated. She cannot connect with her parents, with these siblings she does not know. So she distances herself, furthers her education to be the best person she can. Her story is honest, heart-breaking, yet beautiful. She has come so far in life, she writes eloquently, and The Girl Who Smiled Beads is a must read.
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