Advance reader reviews of The Girl Who Smiled Beads

The Girl Who Smiled Beads

A Story of War and What Comes After

by Clemantine Wamariya

The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya X
The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya

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There are currently 16 member reviews
for The Girl Who Smiled Beads
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  • Peggy K. (San Diego, CA)

    Loss of Identity
    This is a breathtaking and heartbreaking novel. It may be hard to understand completely unless you have experienced such a traumatic event but everyone would benefit from reading this tale. Rwanda was and still is a horrific thing. While we may only touch the surface in understanding it can provide one with a window into that world. There are so many questions open to discussion with a book like this and nothing should be taken for granted. Each event like this is different as noted by the author. We cannot compare one tragedy to another but we can learn from discussing what happened here and what has happened elsewhere. Some of us know a little bit about lose of identity but generally it is a small part of our lives . Refugees are an everyday thing in our country now and there isn't much understanding of what it is like to try and survive in these countries. I was very happy that I decided to read it.
  • Beverly D. (Palm Harbor, FL)

    Powerful memoir...a MUST read!
    We no longer need to imagine the horrors of the Rwandan genocide; Clementine Wamariya has set it out for us in an astonishingly brutal examination of a life in constant upheaval as a six year old. And all of these experiences formed the amazing woman she has become today, even as she fights with the conflicts she still keeps inside. The writing grabbed me from the first page there was an immediacy and flow to this story; the back and forth from Africa to the U.S. worked well here. The break from despair in Africa (although sometimes joy)melds well with the hope in Chicago (although sometimes despair). A perfect book club selection!
  • Priscilla M. (Houston, TX)

    In search of self in the midst of war
    This searing and personal account of the war in Rwanda reveals much more than just a war-torn, conflicted country. It told the story of a child who lost her family, her identity, and her childhood. For six years Clemantine and her sister Claire moved from one refugee camp to another, seeking shelter but finding only hunger, disease, and inhumane treatment. Claire, the oldest child in the family, was already certain of who she was and what she could do. Clemantine was only six, and her reaction to chaos of war was, in her own words, "I was just a feather, molted and mangled, drifting through space." Throughout the book, told in alternating stories of refugee camps in Africa and living as an immigrant in affluent American suburbs as a foster child, the reader comes to realize that even as an adult, successful American citizen, Clemantine has yet to come to a place in her life where all the broken pieces fit together as a whole. Her story is one that is blisteringly ugly and yet at the same time triumphant and proud. This is a must read.
  • Ariel F. (Madison, WI)

    "Everything is yours, everything is not yours".
    Memoir about surviving despite many obstacles. I found that the book brought me a range of emotions. I knew something about the Rwanda wars, but this book and the struggles the author and others went thru brought it home.

    Why can't we all just get along?
  • Catherine O. (Altavista, VA)

    A Story of Survival
    Clemantine Wamariya's book is haunting. At the age of six when our children are enjoying Kindergarten this girl and her sister enter the world of refugees. The beauty of this book is in the simple way she tells her unbelievable journey. She reminds us that millions of Africans have been affected by genocide, she is but one survivor and each survivor has had a different experience.

    Clemantine's story pulls you along and surrounds you with strong images from her journey through war torn refugee camps, her attempts to assimilate into the United States, and her visits back to Africa in recent years.

    I will be recommending this book to everyone I know who wishes to expand their view of the world. I know my book club will be reading The Girl Who Smiles Beads, it is exactly the type of thought provoking book we enjoy discussing.
  • Barbara O. (Red Bank, NJ)

    A Powerful Story with a Beautiful Message "I Am Me"
    Reading "The Girl Who Smiled Beads" hurt my heart. How does a 6 year old even have the vocabulary to describe the nightmare world she experienced? This book is a must read, beautifully written, disturbing and eye opening. We all need to know, on a personal level, what happens when human beings find themselves in the middle of conflict. Despite the ugliness of genocide, this book describes human resilience and the strength of love and goodness and the determination to be counted. This book should be read and discussed.
  • Diane H. (Leawood, KS)

    Eye Opener
    For me, this book was a huge eye opener. I knew very little about the massacre in Rwanda.

    In this memoir Clementine exposes the reader to the horrors of the Rwandan massacre and draws us into her reality. We feel her fear, insecurity and anger. It is heartbreaking to learn that even today she struggles with her identity and her place in society. Her anger is palpable on the pages.

    I liked the fact that she also showed us the ways in which Claire and her mother dealt with their horrendous pain and loss. I found myself haunted by Claire's comment near the end of the book; "When I remember our experiences, I'm alone".
    Each family member has her own reality.

    This is an engrossing book and one I had a hard time putting down. Worth the read!!!
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