I rarely ever read nonfiction books. But this one … well, it wasn’t one I could pass. An autobiography, the author explores her harrowing childhood journey in war-torn Rwanda. Thank you to the First to Read program for this eARC in exchange for my honest review.
Summary (Goodreads): 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 wandering 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 asylum in the United States, where she embarked on another journey–to excavate her past and, after years of being made to feel less than human, claim her individuality.
Review: This book was extremely powerful and riveting, to say the least. For someone who doesn’t know a great deal about the Rwandan genocide, this memoir was an eye-opener.
The book has alternating chapters, with one taking place in the past and the other taking place in the present. Through this, we piece together how Clemantine gets to her present point in life. We also see how she struggles to form an identity, how she struggles to live with her past and the way it stripped her of a “normal” childhood.
Not only do we see Clemantine grow up and struggle, her thoughts and feelings change the reader’s own perspective. Her ideas and emotions really resonated with me and it made me rethink my own opinions on genocide, on politics, on humanitarian efforts, and how the world works. I don’t want to say more without ruining anything, but this memoir is an impactful read and well worth the effort. It is powerful, it is thought-provoking, it is heart-wrenching. For those reasons, I’m giving it a 5/5 stars.
Happy reading ~