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The Braid
Helen Frost
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The Braid

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  276 ratings  ·  71 reviews
Two sisters, Jeannie and Sarah, tell their separate yet tightly interwoven stories in alternating narrative poems. Each sister – Jeannie, who leaves Scotland during the Highland Clearances with her father, mother, and the younger children, and Sarah, who hides so she can stay behind with her grandmother – carries a length of the other’s hair braided with her own. The braid ...more
Paperback, 95 pages
Published October 3rd 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (first published October 1st 2006)
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This book it short-- it took me 2 hours to read.I saw it at the library on a shelf with "staff favorites" and I thought, "what the heck, we'll see if its any good." I think I actually picked it for its length since I really like to fly through a book and feel like I accomplished something. As a parent of 3 preschoolers I don't often feel like I accomplish anything. Anyway, the book. It was the story of a family that was forced from their island in Scotland to Canada and the one sister who ran aw ...more
Suzanne Dix
A Celtic knot is a beautifully woven pattern, braid-like in form. So begins the concept and form of Frost's story of two sisters, divided by the Atlantic Ocean, who keep their love for each other wrapped tightly like a braid of memories and hope. The 1850s were harsh in both Scotland and Nova Scotia and this historical look at surviving poverty and living day by day should inspire any reader.

Grades 7 and up. Another insanely creative endeavor by Helen Frost.

Not only is this a compelling call-and-response tale, told in the voices of two Scots sisters, Jeannie and Sarah, but the structure of the telling is very beautiful. Chapters alternate each sister's voice, and an intricately structured poem links the chapters. Frost's note at the end of the book explains her pattern. The voices of the girls are clear and real, even as life tears them from each other, one to stay on the island in the Outer Hebrides, one to shipboard and the long forced journey to ...more
Afton Nelson
Beautifully woven tale, written in verse, of a family and their forced emigration from Scotland to Canada. It's amazing to me that with such an economy of words, so much feeling and emotion is conveyed. Loved it.
Regina McCaleb
Mac and I started reading The Braid yesterday morning aloud to each other while we had our morning coffee. We finished it this morning, both of us crying with every page. I thought it was just me, but I looked up at Mac and saw that tears were streaming down his face too. We both found such beauty in the story, such lovely, heart-opening beauty. We also both love good writing, and this book is among the best! Thank you, thank you, and thank you again, Helen Frost for writing this book. We can't ...more
The story element that gives this book its title was the most--or really the only--powerful bit for me. I felt like I do when I read most poetry: appreciation that someone took the time, but no personal connection. Here, I had additional appreciation for the historical research. Part of the problem is that the other novel-in-verse I've read, Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, was also about immigrants but had the effect of reducing me to a crying mess almost the entire time. So now I expe ...more
Hedgebrook alumna Helen Frost (author of Spinning Through the Universe) offers readers an ingeniously structured novel in verse about a Scottish family in 1850. Its themes will resonant with today's teens. The events unfold through the alternating perspectives of sisters Sarah, the oldest of four, whose strength and agility with tools help her father ('just like a lad,' says he), and Jeannie, the comely one with golden curls. Readers quickly learn that the British landlords are forcing out the r ...more
I cannot say enough about this book. It is simply spectacular and if I could give it more than 5 stars I would. Not only is it a lovely story of the depth of connection between two sisters but the artfulness which Helen Frost used to tell it is breathtaking. Think celtic knots, poetry, and poignant storytelling all wrapped into one.

The story takes place in Ireland in the 1850s when many tenant farmers were being evicted from their farms as happens to the family in this story. They plan to go to
Nov 20, 2009 Krista rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Devin & Brianna especially!
This was a really lyrical story about a tough time in Scottish history. The story swapped storlines between two sisters, Jeanie and Sarah. There were short poems between each sisters telling of the latest installment in their lives.

The story in and of itself was amazing, but after reading the author's notes at the end of the book I was really blown away by the complex structure of the book. But that stucture in no way interfered with the pace or voice of the book.

The theme of the braid is carri
The author braided words into her story. First words in one poem become the last words in the next poem and visa versa. Also, last lines become first lines. Subjects mentioned in one narrative poem become subjects for the next “praise” poem that comes in between each of the alternating voices of the sisters. Even the syllables in each line match the age of the girl who is telling that part of the story. The whole book is a braid of words, lines, subjects, and lives. Pretty cool.

Summary: When th
The Braid Immigration/Death/Family/Poetry

This story alternates between two narrators: Jeannie and Sarah. Their lives, when we enter them, are set in Scotland. But soon after we meet the characters they are forced from their home. Seeking refuge, Jeannie and Sarah's family decides to sail to Canada. Sarah chooses to stay behind with her grandmother to settle with relatives on a nearby island. Jeannie goes with her mother, father, and her younger siblings to Canada. Misfortune and heartache contin
Libby Ames
Aptly named, The Braid contains braids on many levels. Two sisters braid their hair together before being separated during the Highland Clearances in 1850 Scotland. During this time, many were evicted as landlords forced their poor farmers to move off their land. The characters are also braided together as they meet, part, and then meet again (both physically and through letters and the communication of others.)

The most amazing part of the book is the braided poetry it is written in. The narrati
another beautiful book by helen frost, this one tells the story of two scottish sisters, one who is forced to emigrate to canada, and the other who stays behind. the story is told in narrative poems, that alternate between the voices of the two sisters, and praise poems, which revolve around an object fished out of the narrative poems. the narrative poems are simply stunning, especially when you realize that frost has braided them together so that the last words of each line of one sister's poem ...more
Rachel Knuttel
I jut don't think I will ever be able to get into poetry.

I really felt like I could have gotten so much more out of the story if there was MORE too it. In erase it barely skims the surface of what it could be.

I did think the Celtic knot structure of the book was really neat though. The way that the different poems were tied together by the last words/first words in the line. Very cool, an that I can imagine took a LOT of work. And the even syllable counts. I was impressed.
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This story is told in poetic form from two perspectives, two sisters named Jeannie and Sarah. The sisters are at different parts of the world-Jeannie immigrating to Canada and Sarah in Scotland. They both face different trials while at the same time missing each other dearly. Before they parted, they cut pieces of hair from both each other's head and made braids. They each kept a braid from the other sister. The girls grow up through the hardships and somehow grow together as well. They are stil ...more
Set in Scotland and America during the time of the Highland Clearances. Sisters Jeannie and Sarah are separated when Sarah stays behind with her grandmother when the rest of the family sails for America after being evicted from their family lands. The night before the family leaves for their new home, Sarah braids her hair into Jeannie's as she sleeps. Sarah cuts the braid, keeping half for herself, leaving half with Jeannie. Their lives, though miles apart, continue to be interwoven, like their ...more
Mackenzie Hunter
I came across this title as I was setting up a display for National Poetry Month in or YA section. The cover looked interesting, so I thought I would give it a try.

All I can say is that Helen Frost has a gift for telling a completely believable story with a few well chosen words.

Don't let the short length of the book fool you, there is a clear story here. . .The strength and pride of Scottish exiles, the fear of a land one does not know, the realization of what home truly means, the raw harsh t
wow this was really amazing. It is a simple story, but all written in poetry. The story is based around these girls who become separated, but remember each other by the hair they cut from each head and braided together. The coolest part is how everything is 'braided.' Each poem braids to another, the narrative poems and the short intermediate poems. It tells a 'braided' story though and reads very easily, it is not abstract or hard to understand at all. I would totally recommend this, but to to ...more
Very short--took me 2 hours. I loved the form of this book--the way she patterned it after Celtic knots and 'braided' the poems together. I felt artistic and cultured reading it and the poetry format only added to the beauty of the story. It read like a regular prose novel (so what I'm saying is that it was not confusing or difficult at all; it was engaging and interesting). I give the first half 4 stars and the second half 3 because of an unappealing plot twist that caused the book to loose ste ...more
Mz. Diana Gagliardi
Two stories from two sisters in the 1850s- one who travels with the rest of the family to Canada and one who stays in the Scottish islands.

Stories of time and family and perseverance.
I heard Frost talk about this book a few years ago at a library conference. I marvel at the structure of the story. Her use of language is simply amazing. I recall that she mentioned how messy and frazzled writing can be but with work it smooths out and everything falls into place. The braid analogy worked for her writing too. I was very struck with her quiet presence as she spoke. When someone asked about the authenticity of the story, she commented that the ending would, most likely, have been ...more
Josiah M
This book was lyrical, but surprisingly enough, had a deep story interwoven into its depths. It told the story of two sisters who were forced apart from each other and yet still remained strong. The title refers to the fact that each of the girls had a braid of the other girl woven into their own hair. This kept them strong enough to go on with their changing lives and yet rooted enough in their past to be able to look back. It tells much about the history of Ireland, and it has a very deep and ...more
Kathy Hiester
The Braid is a story about two Scottish sisters, living on the western island of Barra in the 1850s. They alternate points of view through connected narrative poems and recount their experiences after their family is effectively evicted and separated with one sister accompanying their parents and younger siblings to Cape Breton, Canada, and the other staying behind with relatives on the small island of Mingulay. Each sister carries a length of the other's hair braided with her own. The braid con ...more
A Scottish Family must leave their home when the lord decides he no longers wants tenants on his land. Sarah and Grandma stay going back to Grandma hometown, but the parents, Jeanne, Flora, Margaret,& Willie travel across the ocean to settle in Cape Breton Canada. Dad & the young girls die of the cholera on the trip and Jeanne, Willie & Mom survive in their new surroundings. This book is written in a style I have never seen before called a braid. Where a poem is in between each chapt ...more
Rachel Ferguson
I didn't actually quite finish the book. liked the story so far. got about halfway?
Sisters Jeanie and Sarah are split up when Jeannie sails to Nova Scotia with her family to escape horros and Sarah remains in Scotland to help her grandmother. Set in the 1850s they have limited connections and rely upon a braid that is twisted with both of their hair. Frost uses verse to tell these sisters stories as they grow up in tumultuous times. I am not a fan of verse novels and therefore was not a fan of this book, but the story is well-written and I can see how it would appeal to a wide ...more
currently reading: picked this up to see why it didn't check out fo the library in so long. so far, its a touching story in verse about an Irish family separated and how the two groups try to live on without each other, or the possibility of ever seeing one another again.

WOW! i chd no clue until i read the author note about HOW the poems were so planned out! a kind of literary braid is created: "the last words of each line in one narrative poem are the first words of each line in the following p
I classify this as YAL, but it does have what the MPAA would call "adult themes." One of the characters is pregnant out of wedlock, and several of the characters die during the passage to America. There were times it was so depressing I almost stopped reading it, but the ending is hopeful and happy, and it's worth reading to the end.

This book is written as a long poem, and the language is very beautiful. It's a bit more literary than most YAL.

I would rate this one PG.
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I'm dipping my toes into goodreads to see how it works. Thanks for finding me here, and thanks to everyone who has read and written about my books. I love to know you're there, even if I don't come here too often to say so.

Helen Frost is the author of six novels-in-poems and two picture books for children and young adults. She lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
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