The Girl Who Smiled Beads

The Girl Who Smiled Beads

A Story of War and What Comes After

eBook - 2018
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"The plot provided by the universe was filled with starvation, war and rape. I would not--could not--live in that tale."

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 migrating 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 refugee status in the United States; there, in Chicago, their lives diverged. Though their bond remained unbreakable, Claire, who had for so long protected and provided for Clemantine, was a single mother struggling to make ends meet, while Clemantine was taken in by a family who raised her as their own. She seemed to live the American dream: attending private school, taking up cheerleading, and, ultimately, graduating from Yale. Yet the years of being treated as less than human, of going hungry and seeing death, could not be erased. She felt at the same time six years old and one hundred years old.

In The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Clemantine provokes us to look beyond the label of "victim" and recognize the power of the imagination to transcend even the most profound injuries and aftershocks. Devastating yet beautiful, and bracingly original, it is a powerful testament to her commitment to constructing a life on her own terms.
Publisher: New York : Crown/Archetype, 2018.
ISBN: 9780451495341
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc. - Distributor

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Sep 30, 2018

Excellent read. A horrific story without all the horrible details. It sure gives you an appreciation of her/their story.

Sep 23, 2018

The author's method of alternating timelines by chapter was very effective in rendering this heartbreaking account of a young girl's escape from the Rwanda genocide. The memoir also recounts the author's eventual arrival in America, her life as a foster adolescent, her success in high school and at Yale U., and her accolades as a human rights activist and author. And she leaves us with the reminder that she may never rid herself of the demons from her turbulent past which continue to haunt her despite her achievements.

Aug 23, 2018

I did not mean to, but I read this book in one sitting during one of the days of unbreathable air. I could not put it down. It's been about a week since I finished it, but I'm loathe to return it: I'll have to get my own copy.

Too often in memoirs of this type, it feels like the author is struggling to make meaning, to tie things up in a bow, as if the narrative needs a tidy conclusion where God/friends/family let them "recover" or something and the journey has a definite ending. This book does not pretend anything is so simple. Much of the time is spent in what I suppose could be called "after", if you like, when immediate physical danger is over, but this is just another step in trying to figure out how to make sense of the extremes, how to live in this world as it is, live with humans as they are. At one point she speaks about reading memoirs from others who have suffered through different but still extreme circumstances, searching for (paraphrased) "How did you do it? How did you survive?" That was one of the times I had to put the book down and go for a little (interior) walk.

It is not a complete timeline. Still, I am impressed she could find words for this book. This sort of naming is elusive.

May 23, 2018

Loved this book, but couldn't get a strong connection with the author at times. Wish it would go into more detail about the countries they fled too as it felt a lot was left out.


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May 23, 2018

Mya614 thinks this title is suitable for 15 years and over


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