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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 , 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 AliveWhen 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


10 thoughts on “The Girl Who Smiled Beads

  1. says:

    4.5 stars I read very few memoirs, but felt I should read this one after recently reading a novel about the Rwanda genocide which made me realize of how little I knew of it In this book, we are exposed to it head on, with excruciating honesty So many people killed but what about those who escaped This book focuses on the story of one family, about how two young girls ran from the murderers and endured horrible conditions in refugee camps Clementine at six years old is sent by her parents from her home with her older sister Claire to family in hopes of remaining safe But the men appear there too and they must run The narrative alternates between her present as a teenager in an American school and moving from one refugee camp to another, from one country to another until the sisters are granted asylum along with Claire s husband and child For me the format felt somewhat disjointed and the back and forth from present to past was confusing However, it seems to illustrate how it was for her Often still, my own life story feels fragmented, like beads unstrung Each time I scoop up my memories, the assortment is slightly different I worry that I ll forever be confused My past receded, grew washed out, jumbled and distorted I could no longer discern what was real and what was fake Everything, including the present, seemed to be both too much and nothing at all Time, once again, refused to move in an orderly fashion This is difficult to read as Clemantine struggles to find a way to heal and move forward That involves moving back to what happened This is an impactful telling, depicting the refugee experience in ways that we may not think about It s easy to think how lucky they are, how lucky to be alive, giving not much thought perhaps to the trauma they have experienced, the displacement, the identity crises each one may experience, the loss of home and perhaps family The word genocide cannot tell you, cannot make you feel, the way I felt in Rwanda The way I felt in Burundi The way I wished to be invisible because I knew someone wanted me dead at a point in my life when I did not yet understand what death was I recommend you read this memoir to see the rest of what Clementine has written about genocide and see for yourself the strength that she embodies I recommend it because while this is a story of this one person and her family, it provides much to think about what happened in Rwanda and about what happened during the Holocaust and what is happening in places in the world today I received an advanced copy of this book from Crown Publishing through NetGalley.


  2. says:

    Here s my story, I said Use it now or later When you need it, it ll be there for you Maybe someday you ll be facing a challenge, and you ll think of my story You ll think of Claire You ll remember to put your ego in a bag and throw that bag away You ll remember to be kind and generous and a better human It s hard to review this book, because this is not a book that was written to be reviewed.This written work, in itself, is a review Clemantine is reflecting upon her past, present and future, but especially her past with her sister Claire How does one review another person s life Normally, I have no problem discussing memoirs, and offering my thoughts on them, but I have not been through anything remotely similar to what Clemantine has been through.I have never lived through war I was never a refugee I am not black I don t know what it s like to live estranged from my mom I don t know what it s like not to have a home I thought I did When my family and I came to Canada, we stayed at our cousins house for a month, and I didn t feel welcome But that s NOTHING compared to what Clemantine has been through.So I cannot comment upon her lived experiences, because I know that would be wrong I have no right to do that I have no right to tell her she should have done this or that differently, or offer my opinion on the war that ravaged her life when I don t know enough about it to do so But what I can do is tell you what this book has taught me It has taught me that our educational system is flawed, because never has a high school History teacher told me that colonization is life shattering I learned that later on Now, I don t know if that s because my History high school teachers were mainly men and white or maybe they weren t allowed to use such strong and seemingly subjective terms, but I remember feeling very detached from and unconcerned about the concept of colonization It has also taught me that the human species can get used to anything, and can also overcome anything Just look at Claire, Clemantine s sister She started a dozen businesses, trying to survive, in a world where women are commodities possessed, disrespected, raped She never let herself believe that she is scum, even if many people gladly told her so She persisted She fought.In this memoir, Clemantine is sharing so much with us Some of it is gruesome, some of it is nightmarish, and some of it is inspiring and beautiful.I have consumed this book I have swallowed every word I didn t analyze, because the author does that for us, but I did consider and think and try to imagine It was hard It SHOULD be hard If trying to imagine a child growing up in the midst of a war, and feeling the effects of it every second of the day, were easy, then we d all be doomed We SHOULD feel shocked, and sad, and impressed by these two sisters and welcome them in our hearts I welcome them in mine Blog Youtube Twitter Instagram Google Bloglovin


  3. says:

    Socks officially knocked off Best book I ve read this year, hands down, and it goes on my all time favorites list Intense, upsetting, sobering, this story got under my skin in a big way I can t stop thinking about, I can t stop talking about it.One day Clementine is playing happily with her siblings in the yard of her comfy and loving home in Rwanda, the next day she and her 15 year old sister Claire are running for their lives Chapter 1 opens with this When I was a regular child, I lived in Kigali, Rwanda, and I was a precocious snoop A few pages later she says My days were filled with the indignations of being young and spoiled And then the war started Her parents started whispering, and they snapped at the kids Their happy faces now showed only worry Her brother told Clementine that the gunfire was thunder, and she had no reason not to believe him But she did know her life was changing You know those little pellets you drop in water that expand into huge sponges My life was the opposite Everything shrunk Once she and her sister started their escape, she said My thoughts and senses became jumbled Time felt hot Silence was dizzying My fear was bright blue Stats Their search for safety spanned six years and seven African countries Just mind boggling that they wandered so long and so far They didn t walk the whole way they went by bus and by boat sometimes At the beginning of the book, there s a map I must have stared at that thing 20 times Yes, I became pretty obsessed with trying to imagine their journey, and I was incredulous that they had traveled so far I knew virtually nothing about which countries were where in Africa Now I feel like I could not only name the countries in southeast Africa, but I could also put them on a map This from a person who pretty much hates maps and confesses to being directionally impaired I kept trying to put myself in her shoes walking a gazillion miles in the heat, fighting for food so she wouldn t starve, living in deplorable refugee camps, surviving illness, seeing dead bodies and hearing the wounded moan And she did all of this without the help and love of her parents or brother, whom she dearly missed How does a kid survive such a thing One of the images that sticks in my mind is Clementine pulling out bugs that had taken up residence in her feet And there are many, many images that made me shudder.The beauty of this book is that the author makes you see her journey through the eyes of her six year old na ve self Clementine wasn t able to comprehend exactly what was going on, and she didn t understand death When she saw dead bodies in the water, she thought they were people sleeping All she understood was that for some awful reason she had to run away from her family, and she was hungry, tired, scared, and homeless.Eventually she and her sister ended up in an alien universe America Imagine the culture shock Not only did she end up in outer space, she ended up on the Oprah show Kind, rich white people took her in and sent her to good schools She was so blown away about her experience, so traumatized, she didn t know how to act She said, I was whoever anybody wanted me to be Her relationships with her family and friends are tough She has two scars on her legs, which embarrass her I m sure she has plenty of scars on her psyche I m beyond impressed that she never acted like the victim, only like a survivor Clementine is incredibly self aware and is great at describing her psychology, which gets big points from me.This isn t just a journalist s report full of facts Clementine infuses her story with lots of emotion Every sentence grabbed me I felt like I was right there Every emotion was loud and real This story ends well Clementine graduated from Yale, she became a successful activist, she has a good, rich life But still, her scary life as a young girl running away from her war torn country will always be a huge part of her She can never shake it off.The book alternates between her journey in America and her harrowing journey in Africa I liked the format For those who hate gore, don t worry there isn t any Although what she went through is way worse than depressing, her story of survival is uplifting.One of those fun woo woo moments I had just added Austerlitz to my To Reads when I ran across Clementine talking about the book, which had a profound effect on her Love these universe synchs Here is how this book seeped into my soul and took up residence Look at what this book did to me Didn t want to break the spell by reading another book Not enjoying my new book seems so frivolous in comparison Still thinking about the book, LOTS Peddling the book to everyone I know Had a nightmare, where there was a chemical cloud approaching and I was trying to prepare myself to die I hardly ever have nightmares, especially not end of the world nightmares Look at what this book made me do It made me go all multi media Colors, music, videos, and my hands on a drum Consider this the multi media room in the Joy Jar Put a picture of colorful Rwanda baskets into my photo library Checked out Airbnb in Rwanda just to see houses I wanted to imagine her life there Checked out images of Rwanda s beauteous hilly landscapes Defies my assumptions of how Africa looks Urgently plan to watch Hotel Rwanda again Memorized the map of southeast Africa Still referring to the map showing Clementine s route wonder when I will stop, lol Watched the Oprah video three times shared it twice Probably not done the repeat Listened to African drum music Added Paul Simon s song Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes to my playlist for the car Watched Paul Simon s Under African Skies video Played my conga drum hadn t touched it in years Am writing lists like this Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes, by Paul Simon, is currently my favorite song ever It s on the album called Graceland that he created in the 1980s along with other songs with an Africa focus and rhythm The album was made a good ten years before the genocide and it s all happy and bright I couldn t help thinking that the girl with the diamond shoes could have been Clementine before the war rich, happy, sassy But instead of wearing those shiny, expensive shoes, in reality she had only bugs on the soles of her feet and they were feasting on her skin Anyway, the song got under my skin and ended up being stuck in my head I guess you could say that the book took the same route.I ve gone on way too long, but I just can t stop myself This book made me think not just about her story, but about genocide More than 800,000 people were killed in that massacre How is it possible that human beings could do this to each other Incomprehensible.I m in awe of this writer in every way possible Not only is her journey phenomenal, her writing is beautiful Kudos to her co writer as well.Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.


  4. says:

    5 starsI had plans for today but first I decided to sit and read for an hour Many hours later, I closed the last page of this book I simply could not put it down until I had read every word of this powerful memoir.Clemantine was born into a comfortable middle class family in Rwanda At age 6 she and her older sister were forced to flee the ethnic killings She spent the next 6 years moving from country to country, from refugee camp to refugee camp Life in the camps was living in filth, infestations with lice and burrowing larva, dysentery, constant hunger, lack of sanitation and proper nutrition.living a horror we cannot even begin to imagine.At the age of 12, due to her sister s resourcefulness, she immigrated to the U.S., living a life she could never have imagined She ultimately graduated Yale University, has been a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show and now speaks and advocates for refugees and women around the world But inside she remains broken, trying in her words to string all the beads in the right order, situate them in the right light I can create a narrative of my life that looks beautiful to me and makes sense This book is her struggle to come to terms with all she endured the separation from her parents at such a tender age, the loss of everything, the constant fear and hunger, the abysmal conditions in the refugee camps, and her struggle to integrate her experiences with her life in the U.S I read an interview where she says her overriding mission is to share the idea that every single person on the planet has equal humanity She herself has gone from feeling worthless, living in abject poverty, to living a life of privilege, but inside nothing about her has changed She says she is every one of those people and so are we After reading her book, I have to say she has succeeded in her mission Nothing I can say could possibly do the book justice but I ll end this review with her thoughts on a couple of subjects that made me stop and take note please remember this is from an uncorrected proof Her thoughts on the word genocide I resent and revile it the word is tidy and efficient It holds no true emotion it cannot do justice it is not meant to do justice to the thing it describes It cannot describe how she felt knowing someone wanted her dead at an age when she didn t even understand death It can t explain a child playing dead in a pool of his father s blood The experience of a mother forever wailing on her knees It cannot explain the never ending pain, even if you live You cannot bear witness with a single word.On forgiveness The world said never again after WWII yet turned their backs during the Rwandan atrocities To those who say forgive and forget, she has poignant words on why that is impossible It s not enough plans must be made on how to never repeat these crimes in the future Our minds can be poisoned poisoned so gradually that we don t even realize we ve become sick I learned a lot about the root causes of the Rwandan killings and they are chillingly similar to the tactics of Nazi Germany The author herself read and re read Elie Wiesel s book, Night, which helped her begin to open up and speak.Publication date is April 24, 2018 Buy it, borrow itwhatever you do, read it How can we even begin to understand if we don t expose ourselves to books such as these edited to add the story is not a linear one and the author changes time periods abruptly with no warning This has bothered some reviewers, but for me, I found the story so strong and compelling I was willing to overlook it I received a digital copy of the book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


  5. says:

    4.5 The genocide in Rawanda, another subject that I knew little about I knew it happened, knew it was a terrible atrocity, saw bits and pieces on the news, but that s about the extent of my knowledge Now after reading this memoir about a young girl who experienced this herself, I know Clemantine was only six when she and her older sister, Claire were told to run They did and for a long six years they went from place to place, camp to camp, faced starvation, horrible and unsanitary camp conditions Always fearing that her sister who refused to give up would leave her, finding her too much of a burden, but Claire never did Not even when she marrys an aid eorker and has children of her own.After those long six years, both sisters, with husband and children in tow were given permission to enter the US A land they had heard marvelous things about, but the Clemantine who was, is now a completely different person, her experiences have hardened her She feels alone, not seen, not understood And indeed how can those who have not suffered as she understand This Rwanda, my life is a different, specific, personal tragedy, just as each of those horrors was a different, specific tragedy, and inside all those tidily labeled boxes are 6 million, or 1.7 million or 100,000 lives destroyed.You cannot line up atrocities, like a matching set.You cannot bear witness with a single word This was said in a response to people making the comparisons of Rwanda to the Holocaust, the killing fields of Cambodia or the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia It is true, we can be empathetic, we can try to understand but can we really, when we only read words, watch the movies We can t, we can t feel what it is like to live through something like this, to feel the disconnection between a new life and what one has suffered She makes her struggles perfectly clear, but she does move on though always questioning, always anslyzing how she feels, how she thinks She and her sister forge different paths, their will be some victories, quests, steps taken, personal losses but she never stops trying.A moving, powerful story, a story about resilence and survival,but also about the toll taken on the human pysche after living through such horrific times.ARC from Edelweiss.


  6. says:

    So hard to write a review on a memoir especially of one where a girl has survived a brutalGenocide in Rwanda.Even when she arrives in the U.S as a refugee, the years of trauma unravel even once she has landed in a war free zone The fears still remain the difficulty trusting, the inability to forget, the fear of being abandoned For years Clementine and her sister travelled to 7 countries to escape the death Now this is her story of the aftermath of survival The darkness that continues to invade her spirit her life And the recovery that is still shaping whom she is to become.4


  7. says:

    The word genocide cannot articulate the one person experience the real experience of each of the millions it purports to describe The experience with a child playing dead in a pool of his father s blood The experience of a mother foreverwailing on her knees The word genocide cannot explain the never ending pain, even if you live Clementine Wamariya shared personal stories of when she lived in Rwanda during the civil war from when she was five years old.stories with her sister Claire..the time they spent with their grandmotherthe years of fleeing and the horrific conditions of the refugee camps having lost their parents in the process At age 12Clementine and Claire 21, pregnant, and her children, were all granted asylum in the United States.this story begins with a story about Oprah reuniting Clementine Claire and their parents.All these stories piercing in your gut the war the American adjustment and Clementine returning to her home wanting to give back and the challenges she faces right away of mistrust are important stories to read This is a true story written from a very caring and courageous girl with amazing resilience and clear purpose of what her life is about.Having read What is The What by Dave Eggers years ago.a story about a Lost Boy.a victim of the Sundance warand his life as an immigrant in America this wasn t the first time I ve felt the horrendous tragedy mixing children with war..ANOTHER BOOK I HIGHLY RECOMMEND..But the difference for me in this book.my one critique I felt the storytelling writing was too jarring The chapters flipped back and forth between the American and African stories too quickly for a short book it was a disruptive flow of taking in the past and present experiences It s still a somewhat pet peeve of mine.the often new style of writing we see so often POV and flipping stories back and forth I prefer the story to blend and flow as one story I m trying to get use to it as so many books today are written in this fashion..but it s never my favorite.5 stars for Clementine and the story that needed to be told 3 stars for the writing4 stars overall Thank You Jennifer As soon as I read your wonderful review, I started reading the book less than an hour after Thank you


  8. says:

    5 brave, bold stars to The Girl Who Smiled Beads The Girl Who Smiled Beads has been the memoir I ve most anticipated reading this year, and when I finally got to it, it was just after reading a fictional account of the genocide in Rwanda, In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt, which is definitely a favorite of mine The Girl Who Smiled Beads was a fitting complement to In the Shadow, and I experienced on a visceral, individual level the pain, fear, sacrifice, and absolute terror experienced by Clemantine and her family This book is easy to read due to the exceptional writing, and I found it hard to put down however, at times, I had to in order to absorb the abject torment suffered by Clemantine and her sister, Claire, from fleeing practically barefoot across multiple African countries to digging bugs out of the soles of their feet This is Clemantine s story, how she shares her anguish, horror, loss, and despair, and in turn, how she claims her individuality and begins to heal This book is important, urgently so given what is happening in our world right this very minute, and raw and stunning at the same time Highly recommended for fans of nonfiction, memoirs, cross cultural works, and profoundly emotional writing Thank you to Clemantine Wamariya, Crown Publishing, and Netgalley for the ARC The Girl Who Smiled Beads is available now


  9. says:

    FragmentationThis is the third book I ve read this year based around the Rwandan genocide in 1994 Each book has been haunting, heartbreaking and tragic this book is no different I didn t want to be reminded about that period again but it is compelling and inspirational to see how humanity can survive those atrocities The scars are permanent and it is with great sadness that we listen to a real story and the impact hatred and destitution has on another human life While the book is a memoir, it is written so well that it reads like a novel and Wamariya has a wonderful use of a phrase which creates such vivid emotional imagery A fake painted smile covering a scream .Clementine is a young girl who along with her older sister, Claire, manage to escape the gruesome massacres in Rwanda They travel through 6 countries in Africa through all sorts of life threatening dangers and unrest, before finally arriving in the USA The book covers two periods, one as Clementine and Claire struggle to survive in Africa and the other in the United States that takes us from their arrival to the present day.As they flee Rwanda and live in refugee camps in Burundi, every day is monotonous and is filled with bugs, filth, hunger and death When they say bugs they mean infestations of lice and bugs that burrow into your feet, that need to be dug out The only way out is to build a relationship with someone on the outside which Claire does through marriage and they move to Zaire Dem Republic of Congo While there, Claire has a baby and the racial violence follows them, so they escape to Tanzania, where they become refugees again This continues through Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zambia They were refugee camp connoisseurs, sad, nationless, pros It is difficult to understand how the mind processes threats and interactions with others, where best intentions are often received as insults or reminders of horrors Sometimes to just want space from everyone s attempt to help, to feel pressured, harassed and pitied is a wound you can t afford to let open Clementine provides us with an insight into how she adapted to protect her feelings and vulnerabilities and perhaps sought isolation There is just coming and going and coming and going and dying Her account of life in Africa and the reality of how women, refugees and different tribes are treated is powerful Don t be fooled with propaganda as it is easier to turn a blind eye to atrocities rather than address them An issue she deals with to the present day.It is a harrowing yet inspirational story, of how faced with the devastation of everything you thought you were and could be, and how a life can be pieced back together to succeed Still reminded of those events Clementine tries to connect all the pieces together saying Often, still, my own life story feels fragmented, like beads unstrung Each time I scoop up my memories, the assortment is slightly different I worry, at times that I ll always be lost inside In this story, I also absolutely admire Claire as a resourceful, hard working and determined person that is recognised equally as the main focus of this book She too has been permanently shaped by the experiences she s encountered and always sought to drive forward in the face of all obstacles.I would like to thank Random House UK, Cornerstone and NetGalley for an ARC version of the book in return for an honest review.


  10. says:

    5 Astounding Stars.The Girl Who Smiled Beads is the story of tragedy, war, violence and ultimately of survival Six year old Clemantine Wamariya was torn from her home along with her older sister Claire, when the War broke out in Rwanda Fleeing everything they had ever known, they were left to their own devices, running from the massacre Both sisters spent six years on the run, through six different countries in Africa searching for safety, never finding it Clemantine had to learn to fend for herself, eventually gathering clothes from campsites, doing laundry and whatever else she could do to survive Her sister Claire became the breadwinner, making clothes, bartering, finding food, goats and cooking, all to show that she was useful These two endured than anyone could ever imagine Clemantine s eyes wide open, starving, full of fear. waiting, oh so desperate for love and affection, always waiting, never receiving Claire, showing love the only way she knew how, by providing And yet, in the cruelest of conditions, somehow, they survived.Six years later, Clemantine and Claire were granted asylum in the United States, and to Chicago, where Clemantine was given opportunities most girls were not, attending Hotchkiss and Yale University, when Claire worked hard day and night to provide for her family This story is a devastating one It is hard to imagine that anyone could ever survive anything like this and live to tell the tale and triumph, and yet Clemantine and her sister Claire have done exactly that For me, The Girl Who Smiled Beads is an example of resilience, of the idea that a person can survive absolutely anything and accomplish their goals Clemantine didn t just survive the most horrific experience, she thrived I am in bewildered awe of Clemantine Wamariya and her sister Claire Thank you for sharing your story Clemantine This was a Traveling Sister Read It original included a few sisters and ended with just Brenda and me It was a very heartfelt discussion Glad we shared in this experience Brenda Thank you to Book of the Month and to Clemantine Wamariya for this inspiring read.Published on Goodreads and on 8.31.18.