The Girl who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and what comes After
Author: Clemantine Wamariya
Author: Elizabeth Well
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 15-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, and witnessing inhuman cruelty. They did not know whether their parents were dead or alive.
When Clemantine was 12, she and her sister were granted refugee status in the United States. There, in Chicago, their lives diverged, but 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. Clemantine 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, going hungry, and seeing death could not be erased. She felt at the same time six years old and 100 years old.