Junior Library Guild Selection * New York Public Library's Best Books for Teens * Goodreads Choice Awards Nonfiction Finalist * Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books for Teens: Nonfiction * 2018 Texas Topaz Nonfiction List * YALSA's 2018 Quick Picks List * Bank Street's 2018 Best Books of the Year
“This gut-wrenching, poetic memoir reminds us that no life story can be reduced to the word ‘refugee.’" —New York Times Book Review
“A critical piece of literature, contributing to the larger refugee narrative in a way that is complex and nuanced.” —School Library Journal (starred review)
This profoundly moving memoir is the remarkable and inspiring true story of Sandra Uwiringiyimana, a girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who tells the tale of how she survived a massacre, immigrated to America, and overcame her trauma through art and activism.
Sandra was just ten years old when she found herself with a gun pointed at her head. She had watched as rebels gunned down her mother and six-year-old sister in a refugee camp. Remarkably, the rebel didn’t pull the trigger, and Sandra escaped.
Thus began a new life for her and her surviving family members. With no home and no money, they struggled to stay alive. Eventually, through a United Nations refugee program, they moved to America, only to face yet another ethnic disconnect. Sandra may have crossed an ocean, but there was now a much wider divide she had to overcome. And it started with middle school in New York.
In this memoir, Sandra tells the story of her survival, of finding her place in a new country, of her hope for the future, and how she found a way to give voice to her people.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Ten is a tender age to experience the dehumanizing tumult of war and ethnic conflict firsthand. Sandra Uwiringiyimana’s memoir describes a nomadic African childhood riven by violence, along with the traditions and familial bonds that sustained her. Once Uwiringiyimana and her family resettled in the U.S., the attitudes and conveniences most Americans take for granted appear in withering relief. Her tone is relatable, shifting between wonder and incredulity. As her narrative shifts from life-or-death uncertainty to the more mundane aspects of American teenage life, we were fully engaged for every moment.
In this gripping and timely memoir, Uwiringiyimana, a member of the Banyamulenge (a minority tribe in the Democratic Republic of Congo), recounts a childhood shaped by experiences as a refugee in Africa and the United States. Memories of her younger sister, Deborah, who died at age six when their tribe was attacked in a refugee camp, bookend the narrative. While the trauma of surviving the massacre reverberates throughout the story, the author also shares how multiple incidents of being treated as an outsider contributed to her nuanced sense of identity. As a child, would say I wasn t truly Congolese. After the massacre, when Sandra s family participated in a resettlement program and moved to Rochester, N.Y., she entered a different kind of war zone in which she was defined by her skin color. With compassion and perspicacity, Uwiringiyimana shares the journey through which she became a courageous advocate for her tribe and refugees everywhere: This is my story.... I must keep telling it, until the international community proves.... that my family and all others are not disposable. Ages 13 up.