13 April 2017

How Dare the Sun Rise by Sandra Uwiringiyimana

Publication: Expected May 16, 2017 
# of Pages: 304
Source: Review Copy (all thoughts are my own) 

This profoundly moving memoir is the remarkable and inspiring true story of Sandra Uwiringyimana, 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.

How Dare the Sun Rise is unlike any other memoir I have read in my lifetime. It is heart-wrenching, filled with terrible moments, but somehow still seems to leave the reader with a glimmer of hope. As a reader I was familiar with the Rwanda Genocide which was rooted in ethnic cleansing; however, I was not aware of the massacre that occurred at the refugee camp located in Burundi. It is heartbreaking to know that this individuals thought themselves to be safe only to be attacked by rebels who were taught so easily to hate people that are different from them. But I must remind you that this book is definitely more than just her experience with that event, it is also details related to her experience in moving and living in America as well as finally dealing with the tragedy that occurred at the refugee camp. 

What I found most interesting about this book was Sandra's hope and strength. I've been through problems of my own, but after reading her story it seems as though I have been focused on things that truly hold no importance. There are still individuals in the world today who face the grim reality of being forced to live in a refugee camp for their entire life. As stated within the book, they have no dreams, no goals, no ambitions that stretch beyond the boundaries of the camp. It's heart breaking to know that there is an entire world open to them, yet because of hatred they have been reduced to living in unsubstantial living conditions. In a lot of ways it makes one (it definitely made me) reevaluate a lot of things about my life and it also made me more aware of all the ways I have been blessed. 

I don't usually do this, but there were definitely several quotes from the book that I really enjoyed that I want to share in this review so you all can get an idea of how powerful this work is. 

  • "People I meet now assume that my childhood years in Africa were dark and deprived. But they were the opposite."
  • "Anyone who thinks it's easy to get to the States as a refugee has no idea." 
  • "I think people have this perception that because you're a refugee, you'll take anything you can get your hands on."
  • "Did I ever define myself as black?" No. My skin color didn't determine who I was as a person."
This quotes resonated so much with me as an individual. I really really enjoyed them. 

The last thing about this book that I really enjoyed was Sandra's discussion on race. What is most intriguing is that her concept of race really didn't appear until she moved to the United States. That says a lot about us as a nation. And I definitely could relate to her when she talked about being ridiculed for "talking white" and having to play both sides of being an educated black woman. Overall, this book was inspiring and I loved it. It comes highly recommended and I hope more people are able to read it when it comes out in May. 


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