Book Review: The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After

Author: Clemantine Wamariya & Elizabeth Weil
Publisher: Hutchinson

In 2006, Clemantine Wamariya was reunited her with her family, live on the Oprah Show. This is the moment when most of America came to know her; this is the moment that starts The Girl Who Smiled Beads. Wamariya hadn’t seen her parents since 1994, when she was six years old and fleeing the Rwandan genocide with her older sister, Clare. The sisters spent six years crossing Africa trying to find a safe haven. Finally, they made their way to America, only to encounter new, complicated struggles.

Three phases of Wamariya’s life weave together in her memoir: her happy childhood; her desperate escape, which plunges her further into conflict; her uneasy reconciliation with her home, her past and her eventual privilege.

There is no easy moment in this book. It is an unflinching record of cruelty and anguish. It lays bare raw feelings about family, belonging, and the world’s willingness to turn a blind eye. Wamariya had little sanctuary, and neither does her story.

Adelaide In-depth

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