The Pat Kenny Show Eason Book Club for May

Your reading list for the month of May

The Girl Who Smiled Beads, book cover

The Girl Who Smiled Beads

May's Eason Book of the Month


The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya

Clemantine Wamariya was six years old when her mother and father began to speak in whispers, when neighbours 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, Clare, 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 Wamariya was 12, she and her sister were granted refugee status in the United States, where she embarked on another journey, 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 100-years-old. In The Girl Who Smiled Beads, Wamariya provokes us to look beyond the label of 'victim' and recognise 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.   


May's Reading Shortlist 

Connect by Julian Gough 


Love and Ruin by Paula McLain 


Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey