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How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child

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In this powerful memoir, Sandra Uwiringyimana, a girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, tells the incredible true story of how she survived a massacre, immigrated to America, and overcame her trauma through art and activism. Sandra Uwiringiyimana was just ten years old when she found herself with a gun pointed at her head. The rebels had come at night—wielding weap In this powerful memoir, Sandra Uwiringyimana, a girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, tells the incredible true story of how she survived a massacre, immigrated to America, and overcame her trauma through art and activism. Sandra Uwiringiyimana was just ten years old when she found herself with a gun pointed at her head. The rebels had come at night—wielding weapons, torches, machetes. She watched as her mother and six-year-old sister were gunned down in a refugee camp, far from their home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The rebels were killing people who weren’t from the same community, the same tribe. In other words, they were killing people simply for looking different. “Goodbye, life,” she said to the man ready to shoot her. Remarkably, the rebel didn’t pull the trigger, and Sandra escaped into the night. 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 profoundly moving memoir, Sandra tells the story of her survival, of finding her place in a new country, and of her hope for the future.


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In this powerful memoir, Sandra Uwiringyimana, a girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, tells the incredible true story of how she survived a massacre, immigrated to America, and overcame her trauma through art and activism. Sandra Uwiringiyimana was just ten years old when she found herself with a gun pointed at her head. The rebels had come at night—wielding weap In this powerful memoir, Sandra Uwiringyimana, a girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, tells the incredible true story of how she survived a massacre, immigrated to America, and overcame her trauma through art and activism. Sandra Uwiringiyimana was just ten years old when she found herself with a gun pointed at her head. The rebels had come at night—wielding weapons, torches, machetes. She watched as her mother and six-year-old sister were gunned down in a refugee camp, far from their home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The rebels were killing people who weren’t from the same community, the same tribe. In other words, they were killing people simply for looking different. “Goodbye, life,” she said to the man ready to shoot her. Remarkably, the rebel didn’t pull the trigger, and Sandra escaped into the night. 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 profoundly moving memoir, Sandra tells the story of her survival, of finding her place in a new country, and of her hope for the future.

30 review for How Dare the Sun Rise: Memoirs of a War Child

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kai

    “It was light out when we found them, the sun rising slowly in a pale blue sky, casting a warm glow over the fields of sorrow and grief. I remember thinking: How dare the sun rise, as if it were any other day, after such a gruesome night.” First of all, how do you rate someone’s life? You can’t give one or two stars and say things like “uh, didn’t like it” or “boring”. That’s not how it works. This is the first time that I’ve heard of Sandra Uwiringiyimana. Sandra is a young woman, born in the Con “It was light out when we found them, the sun rising slowly in a pale blue sky, casting a warm glow over the fields of sorrow and grief. I remember thinking: How dare the sun rise, as if it were any other day, after such a gruesome night.” First of all, how do you rate someone’s life? You can’t give one or two stars and say things like “uh, didn’t like it” or “boring”. That’s not how it works. This is the first time that I’ve heard of Sandra Uwiringiyimana. Sandra is a young woman, born in the Congo. Her tribe, the Banyamulenge, come from a province in Congo called South Kivu. They have Rwandan origins and as their appearance, language and accents differ from Congolese and Rwandan people, they don’t belong to either nation and are often discriminated against. Sandra is working towards a broader awareness of her tribe’s situation. She spoke in front of the United Nations and was interviewed by Charlie Rose during the Women in the World Summit in 2012. She wants more fairness and to end the hate and persecution that her people suffer from. I don’t want to take away too much beforehand so let me just say a few things. This book tackles lots of important topics, including discrimination, persecution, feminism, mental health and family. It is moving and empowering and most of all: It’s real. I started reading Sandra’s book – about how she was raised, survived a massacre and later immigrated to the US – thinking only “Oh this sounds interesting.” I’m in a position where I have the luxury, the choice to face ugly news and truths or to blend everything out. Sandra could not. The more I read, I started to realize that this was real, that Sandra is someone who has left and is still leaving footprints. The events she describes in this book can be glimpsed on Youtube or Instagram. That’s when reality hit me. A reporter asked Sandra in an interview how she survived the horrors of her past, like having a gun pointed at your head, seeing people getting slashed and burned. It felt like such a terrible question. How could you ask anyone this? But what Sandra is doing is brave and crucial. She fights for justice and for acceptance. This book is a raw and emotional autobiography, and while I wished to read more about what lead to the creation of this book, and about Sandra’s work as a Global Ambassador, I think it’s an amazing biography. Find more of my books on Instagram

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨️ Socially Awkward Trash Panda ✨️ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest This is one of the best memoirs I've ever read. Sandra is Banyamulenge, which is an ethnic minority in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, discriminated against by the Congolese. She and her family were forced to flee to a refugee camp during the Second Congo war, where they lived until 2004, when they were victims to the massacre by the National Liberation Front of Burundi. She watched them burn the camps, killing people she had known Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest This is one of the best memoirs I've ever read. Sandra is Banyamulenge, which is an ethnic minority in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, discriminated against by the Congolese. She and her family were forced to flee to a refugee camp during the Second Congo war, where they lived until 2004, when they were victims to the massacre by the National Liberation Front of Burundi. She watched them burn the camps, killing people she had known and grew up with before her very eyes. Her mother was shot in front of her, her sister killed, and then one of them put a gun to her head and she prepared to say goodbye to her life. For whatever reason, the man did not pull the trigger, and she survived to tell this incredible story. This memoir is mostly linear, although she opens with the devastating attack on her refugee camp, before going back in time to give us an idea of what her life was like growing up in Africa. A lot of people in the United States, myself included, don't really know much about Africa, or its history, and a good number of them probably couldn't even think of a country on that content (not even the obvious Egypt). She does this to serve two purposes, to give you an idea of her background and put a human face to the acts of genocide her people have suffered, and to debunk a lot of myths the reader probably has about where she comes from (yes, her people had shoes and cars, don't be ridiculous). Eventually, she and her family were able to come to the United States as refugees, but this was no perfect fairytale ending-- and here is where my appreciation for her memoir really grew, and why I think her memoir should be required reading for everyone. As a Black woman from Africa, she came to the United States as an outsider to the racial tensions in the United States, and writes extensively on how crime committed by African Americans is disproportionately represented and reported on in the media, and how many white people treat Black Americans as if they are always on the verge of committing a crime. She writes about how she often didn't feel Black enough, not knowing much about American culture, let alone Black American culture, and how the two things might differ and overlap, and how living in the United States always seemed to force her to define herself by the color of her skin. The more dialogues she engaged in with her African American friends, the more she learned about institutional racism with regard to police discrimination, and about the Black Lives Matter movement. As she got older and went to high school and then college, she began to struggle with what I believe is PTSD, as memories of her sister's death and the massacre haunted her. She poured herself into activism and got to go to a panel with Madeline Albright and Angelina Jolie, and, a few years after that, was invited to the White House Correspondents' Dinner where she got to meet the Obamas. She writes about the struggles of translating for her parents, and dealing with a lot of things that most children don't (like dealing with bills and telephone companies). She writes about the constant push and pull of her parents trying to uphold the norms of traditional African culture while also making allowances for the norms of the "typical" American teenager. She writes about being the victim of discrimination herself, and the frustration and rewards of making people care about a country they don't know anything about, as well as the exhaustion of being the unofficial ambassador of all Black people for her white friends and acquaintances. It's moving, heart-rending, eye-opening, and evocative. The book ends with a photo gallery of other survivors of the massacre in the DRoC. Many of them now live in the United States and all of them want the people who claimed responsibility for the genocide to their people to be punished (as they should). It's the perfect end to the perfect book, and I loved that Uwiringiyimana included several personal photos of herself at several key moments in her life in the gallery, including the only photo she has of her younger sister, Deborah, who was murdered. Uwiringiyimana is such an inspirational figure. Her passionate activism work, her openness about her struggles with mental health, and her willingness to share her own painful, personal stories with strangers to advance the cause of the people she's fighting for will resonate with anyone who shares her values and her desires to see the world be made into a more fair and just place. I loved the stories of her family, and how her father's feminism inspired her so personally, and how she debunked so many of the toxic stereotypes that Western people have about Africa, providing a realistic perspective about her home in the Congo, while also providing an equally realistic perspective about the U.S.'s flaws. I think literally everyone should read this book. 5 stars

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Audio book narrated by the author, Sandra Uwiringiyimana. 6h 25 min Wow! This November 2017 memoir about the author and her family 's journey from the DRC to refugees in Rochester, NY is definitely one of my favorite reads of this year. Sandra speaks so eloquently and with such emotion about family, faith, cultural differences and dealing with PTSD. A must have for my nonfiction section of my classroom library.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Bookishrealm

    I was approved for this book for review. All thoughts are my own. This was such a powerful book! I loved it, I mean I really loved it! To hear what Sandra has been through was heart breaking, but it also opened up my eyes to other atrocities that plague the world and how they go unnoticed or forgotten by the public. Sandra reminds us that although it may not be happening to us it definitely is happening all over the world. This is such an inspiring story that I want to read more about young adul I was approved for this book for review. All thoughts are my own. This was such a powerful book! I loved it, I mean I really loved it! To hear what Sandra has been through was heart breaking, but it also opened up my eyes to other atrocities that plague the world and how they go unnoticed or forgotten by the public. Sandra reminds us that although it may not be happening to us it definitely is happening all over the world. This is such an inspiring story that I want to read more about young adults like her as well as adults who have grown up in war torn countries.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jenna Cooper

    3.5 I feel like a cruel person for rating it 3 stars (though I would clarify it is more of a 3.5), however, in the end, I have to rate this as a piece of writing, and not the author's experience. Also, I do generally read novels, so perhaps I am also judging this from a fictional standpoint, not nonfiction. For the negative first, ultimately, this just isn't the best-written book. Some parts are incredible, especially early on as she describes growing up in Africa, becoming a refugee, and the mass 3.5 I feel like a cruel person for rating it 3 stars (though I would clarify it is more of a 3.5), however, in the end, I have to rate this as a piece of writing, and not the author's experience. Also, I do generally read novels, so perhaps I am also judging this from a fictional standpoint, not nonfiction. For the negative first, ultimately, this just isn't the best-written book. Some parts are incredible, especially early on as she describes growing up in Africa, becoming a refugee, and the massacre on her refugee camp. But the further the book gets, there are an increased amount of weaker parts of the book. She gushes about the famous people she gets to meet in response to her activism, and she relies too much on a "BUT THEN EVERYTHING CHANGED..." vague cliffhanger too often. Also, her discussion of her depression/PTSD at the end felt a bit surface level. Which may be my preference for fiction coming through, but it didn't feel deep enough. Which is something else that I found weak--Sandra has experienced A LOT in her young life, but the book felt a bit unfocused in its subject. It covers war, violence, the refugee experience, moving to a new land, family dynamics, depression, activism, women's rights, race in America, and probably more I'm forgetting. Especially towards the end, this makes it feel unfocused. HOWEVER. I wish that everyone would read this book, especially in the political climate here in America. Being a refugee is not a choice. It is not anything but hard, and Sandra's story encapsulates this. Even as someone who supports refugees, some of her views were new to me. Or perhaps just a reminder that we are all human. What I want, those refugees want, too. Even with something like having cute clothes. Teens especially would benefit from reading this, as she talks about her experience at school. Overall, anyone who reads this will be sure to learn something about someone who is different from them and foster better understanding.

  6. 4 out of 5

    St. Gerard Expectant Mothers

    Finished the ARC of this and I couldn't put it down. Refugee Sandra details her family's flight from the war torn Congo and their struggles as immigrants living in an urbanized landscape of America. Told with brutal honesty and an insightful look into the world as an outsider looking in, it is certainly one memoir every young person needs to read when it releases in the US in May. Highly recommended.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Leigh Collazo

    More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants. REVIEW: Though the subject matter was incredibly sad and violent, the conversational first-person narrative made this easy and engaging to read. I love Sandra's quiet power in how she compares her life in The Democratic Republic of the Congo and her new life as a middle-schooler in the USA. Some of the comparisons are funny, and some are just horribly sad. I love the bottom line message about how race in the USA is a much bigger deal than it is in Africa. Sandra t More reviews at Mrs. ReaderPants. REVIEW: Though the subject matter was incredibly sad and violent, the conversational first-person narrative made this easy and engaging to read. I love Sandra's quiet power in how she compares her life in The Democratic Republic of the Congo and her new life as a middle-schooler in the USA. Some of the comparisons are funny, and some are just horribly sad. I love the bottom line message about how race in the USA is a much bigger deal than it is in Africa. Sandra talks about how she never really thought about her skin color in Africa, even though there were many different skin tones and even white people in Africa, it wasn't a big deal until she got to the USA. She also tackles large issues like poverty, everyday racism, PTSD, and depression. I loved this book for it's strong narrative voice and its ability to tell a very needed story in a simple and engaging way. This book is easy to get into right from the start and stays poignant all the way through to the very end. Though she hobnobs with celebrities by the end of it all, Sandra remains a humble person and simply wants to get her voice out there and make a difference for the millions of displaced individuals in Africa and around the world. THEMES: war, race, poverty, family, death, PTSD, depression, refugees, rape THE BOTTOM LINE: A must-have for any middle or high school library. How Dare the Sun Rise tackles important issues like war and race with quiet dignity and hope. Beautifully-written and moving. STATUS IN MY LIBRARY: On-order. RATING BREAKDOWN: Overall: 5/5 Creativity: 5/5 Characters: 5/5 Engrossing: 5/5 Writing: 5/5 Appeal to teens: 5/5 Appropriate length to tell the story: 5/5 CONTENT: Language: none Sexuality: mild; talk of menstruation and tampons taking your virginity Violence: high; attempted child rape, bloody massacre, arson, bullying, everyday racism Drugs/Alcohol: none

  8. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    The first half of the book was good. The descriptions of Africa and life there were enlightening. The part about the massacre in the refugee camp was sad and tragic. Heartbreaking. The second half of the book was frustrating for me. I almost put the book down and stopped reading it. She is very focused on race in her book. She has a strong victim mentality that was hard to listen to. Everyone feels different in some way or another. Everyone deals with prejudice in some way or another. Everyone i The first half of the book was good. The descriptions of Africa and life there were enlightening. The part about the massacre in the refugee camp was sad and tragic. Heartbreaking. The second half of the book was frustrating for me. I almost put the book down and stopped reading it. She is very focused on race in her book. She has a strong victim mentality that was hard to listen to. Everyone feels different in some way or another. Everyone deals with prejudice in some way or another. Everyone is diverse due to having unique experiences during one's sojourn in this life.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Maya B

    This was a great non fiction read. The first few chapters were repetitive but it quickly picks up after that. I love how the author described everything in great detail. This is the story of a African war child and her move to America. A true testimony of a survivor. My favorite part of this book was her transition to America. The author describes everything when it came to food, culture, and race. Most of which I felt was very accurate.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Carol Waters

    I gave this two stars to be polite. Here's the problem with this book: Sandra tells the reader repeatedly that in her country one doesn't talk about one's feelings. She then writes a book that is almost entirely devoid of anything that even attempts to come close to describing her feelings about the travesty of her childhood experiences. She lost a homeland several generations before she was born, she lost a sister, she lost her school uniforms and her father's status in the Republic of Congo. Sh I gave this two stars to be polite. Here's the problem with this book: Sandra tells the reader repeatedly that in her country one doesn't talk about one's feelings. She then writes a book that is almost entirely devoid of anything that even attempts to come close to describing her feelings about the travesty of her childhood experiences. She lost a homeland several generations before she was born, she lost a sister, she lost her school uniforms and her father's status in the Republic of Congo. She is fortunate enough to get extracted from a region where no country wants her to one where she has a chance to be safer and to go to school and to reunite with the people who share her history. And then the whining begins. She lost her favorite blue dress when she tried to use it for a tourniquet. She had to live in a crappy house and she had to choose an unstylish wardrobe from church handout boxes. She had to eat nasty old apples rather than the Congolese fruits she doesn't even bother to name. She saw Angelina Jolie cry but didn't get to sit on the podium with her. She rants that her mom was actually upset because she dropped out of college, took off without bothering to call home, and ended up in the arms of a white boy. Seriously, most of the book has to do with name dropping and bragging and with her resentment list directed at people who didn't meet her standards. Her mother perhaps introduced her as the youngest member of the family because it is fucking heartbreaking to tell every stranger that her baby died, but Sandra complains and complains about how she feels without ever considering how anyone else might have felt. If I had dropped out of college and disappeared for a few months without the decency to phone home and let people know I was still alive, I can guarantee that my mom would give me the stinkeye when I wandered into the house. Let's face it, she continues to make a living out of playing the victim card. And the writing is poor quality, flat. Don't tell me that she's only been using English for two decades. She has an editor. My guess is that she also has a raving ego. By the end of the book she is literally page after page telling us how great her hair looks. There are better books about being a child in a war zone, some where the writer doesn't complain about having to endure crappy air conditioning. Read those instead.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth☮

    I just happened to read this right before the country exploded with riots over the awful murder of George Floyd. This book isn't about rogue police killing innocent people, but it deals with race in a way that feels very timely. Sandra is a young girl that grew up in Congo and Burundi running from hatred. As a member of a tribe in Rwanda, her family fled that war-torn country and settled in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sandra has never known Rwanda as a home, but in Congo she is conside I just happened to read this right before the country exploded with riots over the awful murder of George Floyd. This book isn't about rogue police killing innocent people, but it deals with race in a way that feels very timely. Sandra is a young girl that grew up in Congo and Burundi running from hatred. As a member of a tribe in Rwanda, her family fled that war-torn country and settled in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Sandra has never known Rwanda as a home, but in Congo she is considered an outsider. While in Rwanda, she is considered Congolese. She is a girl without a country. After surviving a horrible massacre, a massacre that claimed the life of her six year old sister, her family settles in Rwanda and attempts to make their small apartment a home. They are all traumatized by the events of the massacre. Eventually the family has an opportunity to resettle in America. This is the the part of the story that is the most compelling. As an outsider, Sandra has a unique perspective on how she is perceived as an African woman in America. She is always an outsider. Even in Africa she was an outsider. Her views on race in America are lucid and accurate: "But In America, my skin color did define me, at least in other people's eyes. I was black. I was black first, and then I was Sandra. I had grown up in a war zone, but life in America, I realized, was a different kind of war zone." This is considered YA and one that I will pass along to my teenage daughter. I think this is an important book for teens to read to better understand what it means to belong and to help others feel welcome.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Delores

    Wow. Just wow. There are no words to correctly express how this book. . .no, this intimate look into someone's life, makes me feel. This stunned me. It made me so, very thankful to live in America, yet appalled at how some of the whites treated Miss Sandra because she's different. Miss Sandra is an incredibly strong and amazing woman. What she lived through. . .I admire her greatly. There are not many woman who could go through what she did and yet come out so strong and trying to do good for ev Wow. Just wow. There are no words to correctly express how this book. . .no, this intimate look into someone's life, makes me feel. This stunned me. It made me so, very thankful to live in America, yet appalled at how some of the whites treated Miss Sandra because she's different. Miss Sandra is an incredibly strong and amazing woman. What she lived through. . .I admire her greatly. There are not many woman who could go through what she did and yet come out so strong and trying to do good for everyone else. She seems to be a strong Christian and a strong speaker. The fact that the Democratic Republic of the Congo accepted rape and almost always blamed the women, stunned me. I was horrified at the treatment of women that Miss Sandra described. Her family seems different. She has accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time and is making a huge impact upon our world. Everyone should read this. It will make you cry, make you angry, scared, frustrated, sympathetic. . .it will pull on every, single emotion you have. This deserves so much more than a five star rating.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Susanchitter

    The author is a member of the Banyamulenge tribe from Rwanda who had settled in the Congo generations before. Because their customs and language were different they were always considered alien and subject to attacks. As a ten year old her family was living in a refugee camp Gatumba when it was attacked and over a hundred people brutally massacred including her youngest sister while many of her family were shot and left for dead. Eventually her family was allowed to come to America where they ha The author is a member of the Banyamulenge tribe from Rwanda who had settled in the Congo generations before. Because their customs and language were different they were always considered alien and subject to attacks. As a ten year old her family was living in a refugee camp Gatumba when it was attacked and over a hundred people brutally massacred including her youngest sister while many of her family were shot and left for dead. Eventually her family was allowed to come to America where they had to adjust to a completely new way of life. The book is simply written and delves into many current issues such as refugees, race relations in America and her hopes for the future. As a teenager the author began to tell the world of her people's situation at important world meetings and making a difference. I feel it is an excellent book to try and understand the conditions much of the world faces.

  14. 4 out of 5

    chantel nouseforaname

    This is the kind of book that makes you really think deeply about all the things you take for granted in life and in your family. It also makes you think about what it means to attain and live out the American dream. Is it a dream when you've experienced so much pain to get there? Can it ever really be a dream for Black Americans born in America or from abroad? Sandra Uwiringiyimana told a painfully harrowing story about loss and trauma. I hate the word harrowing but honestly, the book was acutel This is the kind of book that makes you really think deeply about all the things you take for granted in life and in your family. It also makes you think about what it means to attain and live out the American dream. Is it a dream when you've experienced so much pain to get there? Can it ever really be a dream for Black Americans born in America or from abroad? Sandra Uwiringiyimana told a painfully harrowing story about loss and trauma. I hate the word harrowing but honestly, the book was acutely distressing. Knowing that there's nothing that has been done about the war crimes perpetrated against her people is only more distressing. Resilient is an understatement to describe the ways that Sandra and her family have managed to continue forward. This was one hell of a memoir.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kara Belden

    This is my 10th book of 2018, and so far, it easily ranks as my second favorite of this year (behind The Wet Engine). This book should be put in every middle and high school classroom. Sandra's story needs to be heard, and Sandra's bravery in sharing her story is unbelievably inspiring. This is now at the top of my list of books that I highly recommend to students. Undoubtedly, adults will enjoy it, too! Sandra loses her sister in a massacre, endures poverty, flees her homeland to America, and h This is my 10th book of 2018, and so far, it easily ranks as my second favorite of this year (behind The Wet Engine). This book should be put in every middle and high school classroom. Sandra's story needs to be heard, and Sandra's bravery in sharing her story is unbelievably inspiring. This is now at the top of my list of books that I highly recommend to students. Undoubtedly, adults will enjoy it, too! Sandra loses her sister in a massacre, endures poverty, flees her homeland to America, and her struggles don't end there, but despite her unimaginable hardships, she becomes an artist and an activist, and I can't wait to see what she what she accomplishes in the future. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK SO THAT WE CAN TALK ABOUT IT! :)

  16. 5 out of 5

    jordan!

    you know a book is good when you stay up until 1 am reading it without taking any breaks

  17. 4 out of 5

    Urenna Sander

    Young human rights activist, Sandra Uwiringiyimana shares her powerful heartbreaking memoir, How Dare the Sun Rise, of the sudden collapse of family life for Sandra, her parents, and her six siblings. The family, Rwandans, considered a hated Banyamulenge minority, lived in the mountains of South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Because of the wars and rumored wars, the family were stateless, and moved from place to place. They had settled in Uvira Province, a city in South Kivu, wh Young human rights activist, Sandra Uwiringiyimana shares her powerful heartbreaking memoir, How Dare the Sun Rise, of the sudden collapse of family life for Sandra, her parents, and her six siblings. The family, Rwandans, considered a hated Banyamulenge minority, lived in the mountains of South Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Because of the wars and rumored wars, the family were stateless, and moved from place to place. They had settled in Uvira Province, a city in South Kivu, where the close-knit, loving family lived a peaceful life until, again, unrest started. In 2004, the family were placed in a refugee camp in Gatumba, Burundi. There is where 10-year-old Sandra witnessed the rebel massacre of families, including her six-year-old sister, Deborah, cousins, and the shooting of her mother, brother, and aunt. In 2006, Sandra’s father heard of a resettlement program initiated to help displaced persons. After numerous interviews, the entire family were approved and immigrated to Rochester, New York, in 2007. The memoir explores Sandra’s mental and emotional struggle, her coming of age in a new society, defining herself counter to the cultural expectations of family and, navigating through the angst of her teens, and living in America. Some might question Sandra’s behavior in some instances, but I believe she suffered Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and guilt over Deborah’s death. The family established a new life in America, but received no family therapy. Sandra did receive brief therapy while attending college. However, Sandra mentioned that culturally, the family does not speak of their loss or unhappiness; instead, they have a strong belief in the power of prayer. An unforgettable memoir worth reading.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shirley Cagle

    This memoir is a believable and moving account of the life experiences of a young Banyamulenge woman. She escaped a bloody massacre in a refuge camp in Africa in which her younger sister and other family members were murdered. This first-hand account details her family's struggle in the aftermath of the attack and their trials and tribulations after a refugee resettlement to Rochester, NY. Her activism on behalf of her people has been recognized in national and international circles.

  19. 4 out of 5

    B.A. Wilson

    Thoughtful and unsettling. I’m picky when it comes to memoirs, but I found this one to be interesting and worth my time. Just don’t expect it to be an easy read, since it's about a girl who survived a massacre. There is obviously violence and hardship, but there is also plenty to think about. It’s an inside look at the life of a refugee, and it definitely reminded me how fortunate I am, when many others aren’t. Pages: 304

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    Very powerful! I loved listening to Sandra narrate her story. This should be required reading for all ages. She is such an inspiration and shows how much the human spirit can overcome. Popsugar Challenge 2019 - A book with a question in the title

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    How dare the sun rise, as if it were any other day, after such a gruesome night? (p. 82). Sandra Uwiringiyimana is a member of the Banyamulenge tribe, a survivor or the Gatumba massacre, where 166 people, including her 6-year-old sister, were killed during violence against ethnic Rwandan Congolese. She was named after a Rwandan prime minister, an influential woman in Rwanda's history: It makes me feel like I have big shoes to fill, and that someday I can do something worth being remembered for ( How dare the sun rise, as if it were any other day, after such a gruesome night? (p. 82). Sandra Uwiringiyimana is a member of the Banyamulenge tribe, a survivor or the Gatumba massacre, where 166 people, including her 6-year-old sister, were killed during violence against ethnic Rwandan Congolese. She was named after a Rwandan prime minister, an influential woman in Rwanda's history: It makes me feel like I have big shoes to fill, and that someday I can do something worth being remembered for (p. 19). Uwiringiyimana does have big shoes to fill; yet her voice is strong and clear. She has been a worthy advocate for her community, refugees everywhere, and "people of all races, cultures, and faiths" (p. 276), as in this speech to the United Nations Security Council. As long as the criminal who admitted to leading that massacre continues to walk freely in the streets of Burundi, I have no choice. I must keep telling it, until the international community proves my words are not only worthy of empathy, but also of accountability. Until leaders like you and the countries that you represent show me that my family and all others are not disposable. (p. 243) Uwiringiyimana's memoir can be read as a case study in both trauma and resilience. In addition to the massacre and periods of profound poverty, she described bullying in both the Congo and the US. She was utterly unprepared for the US, and her caseworkers, although well-intentioned, did not understand her family's confusion. Her father was hit by a car, spent three months in a coma, and was unable to work outside the home after that. Yet, Uwiringiyimana's parents gave her a strong foundation. Her church and friends supported her during good times and periods of profound depression and frequent flashbacks. Uwiringiyimana also means “one who believes in God,” something that she struggled with in the years since the massacre: Why were we being targeted by people who were praising God? Gunshots, screams, chanting. Nothing made sense. It didn’t register that people were dying, that my cousin had been shot dead as she ran from the tent. (p. 6). While her faith ebbed and flowed as she faced new challenges in Africa and after her immigration to the US, her spirituality was part of what saved her. Her parents were strong and powerful forces in her life. Her mother was "the original feminist," selling cows and running businesses in a culture where those were not women's work. When feeling bullied at school, her mother helped her keep perspective: “Did they injure you in some way?... Do you have a wound?” (p. 47). Her father encouraged her to value her education and recognize that “Beauty is in your head, not on your body” (p. 141). This story is very similar to John Bul Dau's God Grew Tired of Us: ethnic violence, trauma, difficulties with adjusting to the US, and anger at God. Both books are hopeful. Still, perhaps because I just read it, How Dare the Sun Rise, feels like it more clearly articulated these themes. I know now that I want to live freely, without separating myself from others, without feeling that I need to pick a side, to stick to my own. After all, if people remain divided and closed off from different cultures, it can lead to the kind of extreme thinking that took Deborah’s life. Back then, my people were seen as different—that is why we were targeted. We looked different. We sounded different. And so people wanted to wipe us out with their machetes and guns. What kind of justice would it be for Deborah if I embraced the very notions of division that killed her? My life has been a journey to come to this realization. As a child, I witnessed the unthinkable: I saw my sister murdered before my eyes because of discrimination and hate. But I have learned that if we want to change the world, we can’t harden our hearts and shut ourselves off from other cultures. We must open up our hearts. (pp. 275-276)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Shameria

    This was such a powerful read. There were a range of emotions that I experienced reading this book, fear, angry, sadness and joy. Sandra told an amazing story of herself and her families escape. Her life in constant war was normal or so it seemed, always fleeing her home and coming back, until one time she left and never had the chance to return home. She explains the struggles that she faced living in the refugee camp, the scarcity of water and food. Sandra takes us through the extensive interv This was such a powerful read. There were a range of emotions that I experienced reading this book, fear, angry, sadness and joy. Sandra told an amazing story of herself and her families escape. Her life in constant war was normal or so it seemed, always fleeing her home and coming back, until one time she left and never had the chance to return home. She explains the struggles that she faced living in the refugee camp, the scarcity of water and food. Sandra takes us through the extensive interviewing process that she, and her family had to take to get to America. Once in America Sandra explains to us the struggles that she face not only being a African American women in America but the struggles she faced being from Africa. The stereotypes, the diversity, the separation of skin tone colors even with the African American community, everything was so new to her and hard to understand. Overall, I loved loved loved this book, this gave me hope, and a new understanding of what it is to be different. Sandra spoke on the taboo of mental illness even in her county, and mental illness is always a taboo subject in the African America culture. Sandra even spoke on how PTSD controlled her life in many ways. Sandra is such a strong individual to write this story and I am so glad that I experienced this amazing story.

  23. 5 out of 5

    The Altruist

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book was an eye-opener; a first-hand account of the negative effects of war. The irony of the Gatumba massacre happening at a refugee camp in Burundi, to members of the minority Banyamulenge tribe that had been driven out of Congo. This tribe, tracing origins to Rwanda, driven out of Congo, then attacked in a refugee camp in Burundi. It is a touching story of families who lost their loved ones and continue to seek justice. There is the first account of young Sandra, experiencing the turmoil This book was an eye-opener; a first-hand account of the negative effects of war. The irony of the Gatumba massacre happening at a refugee camp in Burundi, to members of the minority Banyamulenge tribe that had been driven out of Congo. This tribe, tracing origins to Rwanda, driven out of Congo, then attacked in a refugee camp in Burundi. It is a touching story of families who lost their loved ones and continue to seek justice. There is the first account of young Sandra, experiencing the turmoil and confusion resulting from exclusion. As a family, they lived in constant fear in their own country. On their way out, they are stopped by a mob and only escape through the intervention of one man. As a teenager in the States, Sandra experiences a culture shock, suffers depression and traumatizing flashbacks. She is on a path of self-discovery, goes off and lives in a friend’s home for a while and stops talking to her parents. Later on, she reunites with the family at her sister’s wedding in Rwanda. No one should have to go through what young Sandra experienced. No one should witness bloodshed right before their eyes. The world is a better place when there is peaceful co-existence and when leaders preach peace and are honest about it.

  24. 4 out of 5

    David

    4.75 There are a lot of books about refugees that are popular right now, but what I particularly enjoyed about this one was that it was like three books in one. Most refugee stories understandably focus on the trauma and the journey to freedom, but this gave equal attention to life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo before the attack, and the transition to living in the United States after the attack. There were some deep observations the author makes about the United States culture, racism 4.75 There are a lot of books about refugees that are popular right now, but what I particularly enjoyed about this one was that it was like three books in one. Most refugee stories understandably focus on the trauma and the journey to freedom, but this gave equal attention to life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo before the attack, and the transition to living in the United States after the attack. There were some deep observations the author makes about the United States culture, racism and other topics that I really enjoyed. It also does a great job showing how the trauma doesn't end once the refugees escape their situations and that is an important message that I am glad was delivered to the reader.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    Short review: 4.5 stars. Very powerful memoir written by a young woman born and raised into conflict in Congo. Sad, gripping, and haunting telling of survival, sadness, and triumph. Much of this memoir was very graphic and hard to read. It was a novel that ended on a "great" note and the author chose to show the vestiges of war and the struggle to cope years later. Sandra wrote this memoir to remember things lost and as a call to action. Worth a read.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Vicki

    Sandra shares the story of her unimaginable life growing up in Africa belonging to her friends and family but belonging to no country. As white American being born and raised in a middle class family, I can hardly begin to understand the difficulties, differences and terror she has managed to survive. Keep telling your story Sandra.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Damn. HOW DARE THE SUN RISE does not pull punches. It's a real, horrifying look at living in a war zone, being a refugee, and trying to resettle in a new country where suddenly race is an issue. An absolutely stunning, must read book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    MaryLibrarianOH

    Sandra's story of terror, heartbreak, and hope is an eye opening look at the warring happening in the Congo and the troubling race relations in the US. Very informative and the storytelling style almost felt like she was in the room with you sharing her life. From advanced reader copy.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Natasha

    This heartbreaking story about the struggles of a girl trying to survive her war torn country and later on trying hard to adapt to life in the US as a refugee is certainly an eye opener.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    Wow... *full review to come after SLJ publication, but for now I'll just say this one hit me hard in such a good way*

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