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The Good Braider

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  1,452 Ratings  ·  262 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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Brooke Please don't post spoilers without marking them as such.
Heather Campsmith Viola - Changed in her way of thinking and the way of looking at life , Instead of looking at her life with one set of glasses that had her see her…moreViola - Changed in her way of thinking and the way of looking at life , Instead of looking at her life with one set of glasses that had her see her world in one
color such as brown , she began to have mature eyes that saw things through
a kaleidoscope of many colors , and points of view. When we see past our past experiences and hurts , As we gain new experiences as viola did we
become overcomers and work to become more rounded individuals.(less)

Community Reviews

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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
Mar 30, 2012 Edi Campbell rated it it was amazing
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
May 01, 2013 Suzanne rated it really liked it
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
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
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
Jan 04, 2014 Marilou rated it liked it
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
Aug 14, 2013 Phoebe rated it really liked it
Shelves: yareads
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
Mackenzie Ross

A bit forgettable, which is disappointing. I thought Out of Nowhere was a better story about east African immigrants in Maine, but I like that this is told from the immigrant girl's point of view.
Aug 31, 2013 ❤Rosa❤ rated it it was amazing

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
Sep 09, 2016 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 05, 2013 Leanderblue rated it it was ok
This book is about a refugee girl and her family from Africa. I enjoy reading authors who write from a different perspective but I had a feeling that the author was not an ethnic person in any way. The way she wrote about the main character's fascination with the boy with red hair. I could tell this person did not have kinky curly hair.

I have negative feelings towards the book because there are so many writers who are from Africa who never get the opportunity to write about a true experience. Th
Sofia Galvez
Dec 28, 2015 Sofia Galvez rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
5 Platypires for The Good Braider by Terry Farish

I need to start off by saying that at first I was completely put off by the free verse written style of the novel. I even put the book down because I never read a book written that way and assumed it must have been a mistake. The only mistake was my way of thinking after realizing it was done on purpose.

I decided to give it a second chance and quickly immersed myself in Viola story. I truly couldn't put this book down. I just found this story to
Feb 27, 2015 Jamie rated it it was amazing
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.
Nicole Lisa
May 18, 2016 Nicole Lisa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
This book is so good. It's about a girl named Viola, starts in S. Sudan during the war, follows her and her family as refugees in various places in Africa, and then to the US as an immigrant in Portland, Maine.

It touches on so many things that you would expect but also not expect with grace and nuance. It's about war, so there is some violence, but it's more about the effects of the violence than portraying that violence directly.

If you liked Inside Out and Back Again, try this.

May 29, 2016 Kitkat rated it really liked it
Lyrically written, The Good Braider is the story of Viola's journey from the war in her South Sudanese home, up to Cairo, and eventually to Portland, ME. Terry Farish is such a thoughtful person and writer, and it shows in this very sensitive story about the atrocities of war, the challenges of cultural dislocation, and the universal adolescent experience of striking a balance between independence and self expression and honoring family and home.
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.
Oliver Eastwood
Oct 20, 2016 Oliver Eastwood rated it it was ok
The whole book seemed to me like it was written in free verse, which in my opinion made things quite confusing. However, the plot was good, but I thought that the characters weren't developed enough.
Jul 22, 2013 Gail rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 13, 2016 Jennie rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-lit
That's okay.... I didn't need my heart in one piece anyway.
Ioana Popescu
Nov 08, 2016 Ioana Popescu rated it it was amazing
The Good Braider by Terry Farish is a realistic fiction novel about a young girl named Viola who must flee from South Sudan with her mother and brother to escape the war in the country. After being raped by a Northern Sudanese soldier and losing her bridal value her family finally decides that they really must leave especially after the soldier comes back to make threats. They eventually get placed on a cargo plane and find their way to Cairo where they wait for a few years before getti
Dec 12, 2016 Carolina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was super interesting and readable, BUT I didn't research the author beforehand and felt betrayed to learn after reading that she (the author) is a white lady from New England who teaches ESL and likes to write lots of stories about young people "from faraway lands." I would rather she had used her voice and power to lift up people's telling of their stories in their own voices rather than presuming to tell a fictionalized version herself. This is especially true since it seems this wo ...more
Carol Baldwin
May 27, 2014 Carol Baldwin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
South Sudan. A nation torn by civil war as well as religious and ethnic conflict. The country from which Viola and her mother escape to the United States.

Viola's father is a rebel soldier who has been gone for five years and she lives with her beloved grandmother, mother, and younger brother, Francis, in Juba. Their lives are full of two enemies: the Sudanese soldiers who rape women and kill young boys or conscript them for the army, and poverty. Yet the family are embraced and loved in their c
Maggie Front
Jan 07, 2017 Maggie Front rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommend

Beautifully written, this book recreates the arduous journey of a Sudanese refugee girl and her transition to a new life in the U.S.
Song made specifically for "The Good Braider"

"We climb in the belly of a UN plane, [it's] roar is our first sound of freedom"

I knew I should have reviewed this book right after I read it. I should start a blog with the name "Freshly out of the "oven" reviews" or maybe not...anyways if I had written the review right after I read this book, I know it would have started like this:

Around the time of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, I remember watching the news with my mother. A girl of about 10, maybe 1
Oct 11, 2016 Karla rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written story about a situation that is all too familiar. I highly recommend reading this story.
Oct 10, 2016 Lily rated it really liked it
This book is really amazing. Only took me so long, as I was reading it for school. So close to home, as I live in Maine, and yet so far away, as it is a life that I don't think I will ever be able to begin to understand. Totally worth it to pick up.
Apr 30, 2012 Merin rated it it was amazing
Viola is a teenager living in warn-torn South Sudan with her grandmother, mother and younger brother, Francis. When the danger and desperation become too much to bear, they leave their small town of Juba and escape to Cairo, where they finally gain refugee status and come to the US, and the town of Portland, Maine. However, once in the US, Viola finds it difficult to keep her identity straight. The Good Braider tells the story of Viola's transition to a new life, and the struggles and sorrows th ...more
Elizabeth Egan
Dec 31, 2016 Elizabeth Egan rated it really liked it
Accessible to readers of all ages highlighting the grace and power of individuality.
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
La Coccinelle
Aug 04, 2013 La Coccinelle rated it liked it
I felt like I needed a bit of a break from fantasy, so I chose to read The Good Braider. It's a historical novel, written in free verse, about the immigrant experience. I'd really enjoyed Thanhha Lai's Inside Out & Back Again, about a Vietnamese family coming to the U.S. in the 1970s... so I thought I'd enjoy this one, about a Sudanese family coming to the U.S. in the early part of this decade. Both may be historical novels about war refugees written in free verse, but that's about where the ...more
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Terry Farish is a writer with a passion for writing the stories of people from many cultures. Her novels include THE GOOD BRAIDER, a YALSA and SLJ Best Book for young adults and EITHER THE BEGINNING OR THE END OF THE WORLD. Her picture books include LUIS PAINTS THE WORLD (Carolrhoda, 2016), illustrated by Oliver Dominguez, set in Lawrence, MA, and JOSEPH'S BIG RIDE (Annick, 2016) illustrated by Ke ...more
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“The story rolls along like drumbeats from house to house.” 3 likes
“No one in America is from America.” 2 likes
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