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The Ivy is excited to partner with Towson University for its Martha A. Mitten Program and TU Literary Reading Series Event with Joyful Clemantine Wamariya! This event will be a conversation about Wamariya's memoir The Girl Who Smiled Beads, human rights, displacement, and migration.
About the book:
Joyful 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 Joyful 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 Joyful 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, Joyful 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.
More about the author:
Born in 1988 in Kigali, Rwanda, Wamariya is a writer, public speaker, and human rights advocate. Her memoir, The Girl Who Smiled Beads, was a New York Times bestseller.
TIME & DATE
Wednesday, April 7, 2021 - 7:00pm