Girl Who Smiled Beads, The

Wamariya, Clemantine

  9 Reviews

When Clemantine and her older sister Claire flee the Rwandan genocide in 1994, their search for refuge takes them six long years and through eight African countries. Finally, when Clemantine is twelve, they are granted refugee status in the US. And as they say, the rest is history. But it is a history of adjustments, of remembering and forgetting and making sense of the world and what has come to pass.

Eloquent and moving, this is an unforgettable memoir of survival and finding home, wherever it may take you.



NEWP 009
A lot of discussion ensued. Very thought provoking.
NEWP 014
Most popular book of the year. Enlightening story very well told. The sparse, thoughtful writing reflected Clementine's feelings better than lengthy prose could.
Enjoyed by most.
A great read. Sad but so inspiring.
This book generated much discussion. For some it was a harrowing read with reflection on the impact of colonialism. The damage done to Clemantine and Claire was an undercurrent which was not expressed explicitly, but was evident throughout the book. The story of the impact of war on children and women is an important one. This story was not told in a gratuitous manner and left a lot for the reader to deduce. We thought it was an important read, especially at this time with the situation in Ukraine.
Our group found this a hard book to review. A story needing to be told, but not necessarily wanting to be read. Several members found Clementine hard to warm to even whilst understanding why she had developed this way. The rather erratic switching from the past as a refugee and the future as a Yale student did not work well, and tended to confuse rather than consolidate the storyline. A brave, intelligent young woman who has yet to reconcile her past.
'The Girl Who Smiled Beads' is an amazing book. We admired Clemantine's resilience and strength to survive six long years of her childhood, fleeing from one camp to another, through eight African countries. Many topics came up for discussion. The book showed the difficulties of a refugee child to adjust to a completely foreign situation. eg. the U.S.A. However, we had hope for Clemantine's future given her strength and intelligence, in understanding the effects of the war, and the separation from her parents. A personal account has far more impact than reading a newspaper report.
WELL 142
A very lively meeting. Many had found the book harrowing and had been unable to finish reading it!! Much discussion about refugee camps, and the feelings of Clemantine as she entered the world of home and school and community, all so different from her life experience so far.
This book generated vigorous debate and discussion in our group. There were somewhat polarised views with one person commenting they were unable to connect to the narrator, finding her shallow and not credible. Others saw the story as not just a description of what happened to the author but also a journey to understanding herself. It is a tragic story of a family's response to a terrible event. Their trauma is significant and long lasting. It was a personalised and retrospective view of the terrible experience.