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The Good Braider

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  1,055 ratings  ·  200 reviews
In spare free verse laced with unforgettable images, Viola’s strikingly original voice sings out the story of her family s journey from war-torn Sudan, to Cairo, and finally to Portland, Maine. Here, in the sometimes too close embrace of the local Southern Sudanese Community, she dreams of South Sudan while she tries to navigate the strange world of America a world where a ...more
Hardcover, 213 pages
Published May 1st 2012 by Marshall Cavendish
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One year around Christmas I was part of a church group tasked with taking gifts around to nearby recently-immigrated Bosnian families. They spoke no English. We spoke no Bosnian. There were a lot of awkward “IF I TALK LOUDER MAYBE YOU WILL UNDERSTAND ME” moments, and a lot of “How could my mother have suggested I come sit in these strangers’ house?” and just when I thought little tween me was going to die of overall uncomfortableness, the daughter went into the kitchen and brought out a plate of ...more
Full Review at Rumor Has It

To date, this has to possibly be the hardest review I’ve had to type. The best books are not only those that transport you to a far, far away alternate universe. Although I love those books very much, every now and then I have to be reminded of the ones that keep you grounded enough to thank whatever entity you believe in that you haven’t had to go through what others go through in this world. The best books will always remain, at least for me, those that make you FEEL
Edi Campbell
title: The good braider

author: Terry Farish

date: Marshall Cavendish, May 2012

main character: Viola/Keji

I usually reviews books some time after they’ve hit the market, however I’ve been intrigued by the cover of The good braider for too long. I picked it up one afternoon and finished reading it that evening. Upon turning the first page, I was transported to the Sudan where all the men are gone (forced to fight) and women and children live in fear not of what the soldiers will do to them, but whe
Viola’s story is one that will resonate with immigrants, their children, and people who care about others struggling under oppressive regimes and in war-ravaged lands. Those from South Sudan must become Muslim, or the soldiers from the North can kill, conscript, or rape them. This last is what happens to Viola. Her innocent days with her mother singing hymns and braiding her hair, her grandmother telling her about the strength of the elephant and giving her a bone to help her remember, and her s ...more
Terry Farish's "The Good Braider" is a beautiful, lyrical novel that tugged on my heartstrings in many moments. It's the story of a teenage African girl named Viola who survives hardships in her homeland to travel with her family to America in search of a better life, out of the heart of war. The novel is written in verse, and the flow of the language and Viola's voice feels authentic and heartfelt. I really gained a sense of who Viola was and how much she cared for her family, alongside the fea ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Teenager Viola lives in Juba, in southern Sudan, with her mother, grandmother, and little brother. They live in constant fear for their lives as civil war erupts all around them. This novel in verse describes how Viola, her mother, and brother escape through Sudan north to Egypt and end up in Cairo, from whence they emigrate to Portland, Maine. Frankly, I found the first half of the book, where they're trying to survive while on their way through Sudan and Egypt, more gripping than the latter ha ...more
This book's CONTENT deserves five stars. I gave three because I did not like the free verse style. This book tells the plight of a South Sudanese girl under the brutal control of Sudanese soldiers in Juba, South Sudan. We in the west think of the victims of rape as just that, victims. It is not so in Africa. The victim is as guilty as the perpetrator for bringing shame upon not only the family but the community. The story of "the good braider" and her laborious efforts to survive in South Sudan, ...more
Novels in verse make me want to run screaming, so good thing I hadn't noticed the format of this story about a Sudanese refuge and her family's fraught path to freedom and life in the U.S. I've been waiting for a book about the African community I've heard so much about in Portland, ME for YEARS! How fortuitous. then, that this novel for young readers turned out to be so frank, honest, and thoughtful -verse and all. There are some very heavy topics within, but I think the treatment of sexual vio ...more
I was skeptical at first; after all, The Good Braider proposes to cover a lot of ground for a book that’s just five discs long on audio. I guessed it would be too shallow to be very powerful, too abbreviated to do its subject justice. I’m happy to report I was very pleasantly surprised.

There is something about the way Terry Farish writes that makes The Good Braider just work. Farish only needs a few words to communicate layers of emotion and significance with power and truth. She calls up vivid

Goodreads recommended this book to me when I was looking around on listopia for a YA novel about another culture. I’m very glad it did. I have never read a book written in free verse before. Poems! How can a good story be told simply in poetry, which is, although enjoyable and interesting, lacking in the detail that can make a story great? How can a world be built, a character explored fully in only a few words each page? The Good Braider showed me how. It was brilliantly written, to
The writing and storytelling are beautiful, the character development careful, the story powerful. As someone who is reminded by this how stable and flush my life is, the story is an existential punch in the gut. I'm glad for the book, and for reading it.

I listened to this as an audiobook, and so didn't even realize that the book had been written in free verse! The narrator did an extraordinary job, and I would enthusiastically recommend the audiobook version.
Kamalendu Nath
A simple free verse narration on a difficult subject – war refugee plights (in this case a flight from own birthplace (Sudan/South Sudan) to resettlement in the States (Maine). You wouldn’t know that the author is nonnative to Sudan as she presents a convincing first person narration through the eyes of a young Sudanese girl, Viola, whose saga includes dealing with torture, fear and harrowing flight for her life from her birthplace. Later she has to contend with demands and a resolution between ...more
Mrs Mac McKenzie
I enjoyed reading this book, it was a quick read as it was written in free verse and the story flowed very easily.

One thing I really liked about this book was the short historic information about Sudan at the back, with the author letting us know how she researched the story and what she based it on. I also enjoyed the culture clashes as Viola, the protagonist, learns to live in a new country.

Something I didn't like was the constant reference to the 'African' ness by the protagonist. Why wouldn'
Structure and Form

I studied poetry for my undergraduate degree, and I have read a limited number of texts intended for children or young adults which are poetry which also tells an explicit story. The Good Braider calls itself “a novel” on its cover, not a book of poetry/verse; I feel like that definition resonates for many of the books I have read which fall under this broad category (and which often have to do with a variety of cultural backgrounds, interestingly). I ultimately find myself rea
Sometimes I get very weary of the world; the multitude of situations where human cruelty runs rampant and the sense that there's not a whole lot I can do to improve the situation. I dragged my feet as it were in reading this book. But surprise it was a great read. It was thought provoking, touching and I learned something about a group of people, a country, a continent I really knew little about except for their victimization.

The poetic format lends itself to being read and re read which is goo
Viola is a teenager living in South Sudan with her family and no part of her life is unaffected by the war between the north and the south, as she lives with death and fear on a daily basis. This short book follows her family as they become refugees and it covers a lot of ground and manages to not feel shallow. I know these free verse type novels drive some people crazy but I found myself forgetting the format pretty quickly as I got caught up in the story.
The Good Braider was about a girl named Viola who lived through horrific things in Sudan that only made her stronger. When Viola, along with her mom and brother, take their only opportunity to move to America, they all struggle with the major differences they are going to have to face. Although life in America will be amazing compared to the one they have been living in Sudan, the family, especially the girls, are not prepared to be able to wear short skirts and shorts and date boys. How will th ...more
I haven't seen many Southern Sudanese refugee stories told from the female perspective. That angle and the beautiful prose poetry give this book a fresh voice. Told in three parts, we are first set in Juba to understand the conditions Viola and other Southern Sudanese face in the midst of a rebel war. When it becomes imperative that the family leaves, we are then taken to Cairo with them, where they await UNHCR to grant them refugee status. Later we watch Viola and her mother settle into a new l ...more
Arielle R
Viola lives with her mother, grandmother and little brother on the shores of the nile in Sudan. They are constantly afraid of being taken away from their home because of the war. Finally, Viola's mother contacts someone who can get them out of the country and to America. They sneak out at night and walk a long way through the desert to get to a safe place, near where they can bring them to America. They wait there a long time; it is horrid, and Viola's little brother dies of disease before they ...more
I feel like I really learned something about the inner reality of another type of person in this book. That is a rare and special thing. It was an unusual way to step into the mind of another girl and see the world as she saw it. I was kind of taken aback at the free verse style of this book (and spent over a year with it on my kindle...avoiding it) but I think the unusual language actually helped me step out of my own mind.

I would highly recommend it, disturbing though it is, fundamentally sex
Jordyn Addison
I loved this book from the first page. It was a dynamic, quick, emotional read. I'll definitely be reading it again, many times over. I borrowed it from the Kindle Owner's Lending Library, and I'll for sure be purchasing my very own copy. I read it for a class project for my Young Adult Literature class. I don't have too much of an issue using it in a high school classroom, as long as a trigger warning is provided. I fell in love with the characters, I fell in love with the verse it is written i ...more
Anne Broyles
From war-torn Sudan through a refugee journey to the difficulty of making a new life in a new nation, Parish skillfully gives us 16-year-old Viola, heart and soul. The book is written in free verse, and Parish knows how to make few words count. In spite of the horrific acts Viola witnesses, the loved ones she loses, and the cultural strife that occurs with her mother as VIola tries to feel at home in Maine, this young woman is a survivor in all senses of the word. Readers will get a broad view o ...more
This is a beautiful book, written in free verse, about the experience of Sudanese refugees. The author isn't African but obviously did her homework.
Viola is a teenage girl growing up in war-torn Sudan. Her life is filled with dangerous trips to retrieve water from the tap in the center of town. She longs for a life of freedom where she is allowed to embrace her culture and family fully. As the violence escalates, her family makes the difficult decision to try an leave their homeland for a chance to immigrate to America. Braiding hair is a huge part of Sudanese culture. In this story it represents not only the interwoven strands of hair in e ...more
This was a really fascinating book. I came to enjoy the free verse style, although I am not typically a fan of longer poetic works. It worked. The author was able to convey not only the emotions of the protagonist, but also the events of the story. While not an adoption related book, I found it interesting both as a parent of an African child and a resident of the Greater Portland area. The struggles of a child who is not quite African and not quite American is certainly something important to c ...more
Sara  (
I just don't like
Novels in verse
They seem so pointless

This one especially
Was poorly done
The plot was limp and fractured
If you can even call it a plot

The Sudanese main character
Was given an uninteresting voice
That didn't seem to reflect
Any specific personality
Especially one of a refugee
Still learning English

Contrast this voice
With the specific, engaging voice
Of Patricia Mccormick's
Main character in
Never Let Me Go

I feel guilty
Not liking a book
On a subject
That should be interesting

I have read a lot of books about people in other countries and their lives. This is a well written book about a girl and her life in Southern Sudan. It follows her escape and what her life is like when she emigrates to Maine. The book is written as if it is one long poem -- rather than paragraphs. It felt correct for this girl and didn't bother me, but could be distracting to some. She also is a teenager and faces teenage problems. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in understanding thi
Even though a fictional read The Good Braider is a realistic look at living in the mist of the war-torn and mayhem driven country of Africa, specifically Sudan. It is an eye opening tale of immigrating to the United States told from the POV and experiences of lead character Viola. The Good Braider is a touching read on a teenager’s struggle to accept herself in a new country where customs and traditions are contradictory to the land she hails from.

There are many great moments, situations, and c
This book reminded me a lot of Patricia McCormick's "Sold" and was powerful being told in short verse, much like realistic diary entries of actual individuals in these scenarios.

Viola immigrates from Sudan with her mother and shares her experiences of escaping a war torn country... It was extremely powerful to me how much the refugees valued their home country, yet still yearned to adapt to American ways. I loved this, and feel it could be a good supplement to help paint an immigration perspecti
My name is Viola and I remember. I remember the fresh smell of dirt on the banks of the Nile river. I remember my mother's fingers on my head, twisting my hair into braids. My grandmother's stories of elephants' songs. But I also have memories of war and loss I would like to forget. The twirl of a tall boy's body when he is shot. The mind-numbing shudder of exploding shells. And the brutal soldier who whispered in my ear, "Now you belong to me." This is my story. The story of my family's journey ...more
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Terry Farish is the author of several young adult novels. She says of THE CAT WHO LIKED POTATO SOUP, "This story began in the kitchen of our old-timer neighbor, Jimmy Fowler. My daughter and I were visiting with him there, gossiping about some village cat or other. Jimmy didn’t have a cat, but he said if we got one, wouldn’t we name it after him? And we did . We got a cat and named her Jimmy."
More about Terry Farish...
The Cat Who Liked Potato Soup Flower Shadows Either the Beginning or the End of the World If the Tiger Shelter for a Seabird

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“The story rolls along like drumbeats from house to house.” 3 likes
“I have slipped out of Africa for a breath of time.” 1 likes
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