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The Good Braider

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  2,073 ratings  ·  360 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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Andrea In a fictionalized story that represents well the experience of many in the immigrant/refugee community (in Portland, Maine, the U.S. location depicte…moreIn a fictionalized story that represents well the experience of many in the immigrant/refugee community (in Portland, Maine, the U.S. location depicted, where I live), The Good Braider portrays the struggle of adapting to life in America while still feeling loyalty to African family and culture. (less)
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Average rating 3.95  · 
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 ·  2,073 ratings  ·  360 reviews

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Kimberly Antill
Viola and her family escape their war torn home in the Sudan, but their struggles are far from over as they make a new life for themselves in the United States.

This was certainly a good book but it was difficult for me to read it in one setting. Viola's journey is heartbreaking and instead of being a page turner, I thought it better to digest each poem slowly.
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
Mar 30, 2012 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
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 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 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was completely drawn in to the story of Viola and her horrific experiences in South Sudan. This story of a young refugee fighting to get to America is powerful, raw and engaging. During this period of instability, with more people fleeing conflict in mass migrations than ever before, it is important to hear a story, to hear many stories that bring to light the plight of refugees. When we close our doors and our borders, we close our doors on humanity.

I will recommend this book to my students
May 01, 2013 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
I re-read this popular paperback as part of the 2017 Hub Challenge & loved it even more that when I read it in 2013!!! Viola's harrowing journey with her family from the war torn country of Sudan to Portland, Maine. Before laving Juba, Viola is raped by a soldier; her self worth and her bride price are stripped. Farish does a superb job painting the fear, anguish and despair of Viola and those in her community in fear for their lives while trying to flee a country gripped in civil war. Once Viol ...more
Nazarene Static
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Good Braider is a book written in free-verse about a girl named Viola. The book chronicles Viola's journey from war torn South Sudan to America.

I love love love this book! I am not always a fan of books written in free-verse because I like books to stay within However, I completely understood the need for this book to be written in verse format. This format helps with the aesthetic of the story. Each poem brings you closer to understand life in South Sudan for Christians; the good
Aug 14, 2013 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
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
Brigid Armbrust
Jul 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: great-titles
3.5 stars.

Don’t get me wrong: The Good Braider was a good book and I am very glad I read it. I came very close to giving it four stars. It taught me a lot about Sudanese refugees and the struggles they faced escaping their war-torn country and eventually learning to integrate in American life, while staying true to themselves and their culture.

My main issue with the book was that while the author did a great deal of research on the issue and talked extensively with many former refugees, it is
Nov 05, 2013 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
Oct 05, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is well written, I won't take away from that. But I constantly found my self questioning who has the right to tell such a delicate, painful story? Some of the moments in the novel felt forced and inauthentic. And upon researching the author's other works, I found most of her books are written about POC and the characters are placed in the center of war and struggle. I think this matters. I think when it comes to stories like this, questioning the lens we see it through, as presented by ...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.
Kate LaClair
Mar 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Good insights into the troubles of refugees as they flee from Sudan and try to integrate into American culture.

I'm not sure the verse form was as powerful and as necessary as it was in Sold.

Aug 27, 2013 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
Jessica Sierk
Aug 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I couldn’t put this down. It’s been a very long time since I read a book in one sitting. I tried to go to bed after the first 93 pages but ended up laying there wishing I was still reading. Ultimately, I turned the light back on and finished the book a couple hours later. This is a book that so many people should read. It’s an excellent fictional representation of the refugee experience. I highly recommend this to teachers and hope that some may implement this as a reading for their students. I ...more
Jun 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I found this a really powerful book that shows the struggles of refugees trying to escape their violent world and adapt to a new foreign world. The main character is a teenage girl dealing with extreme trauma and trying to decide what part of her is still Sudanese and what part of her is a new American. I truly recommend this book for middle school and high school social studies classes
Megan Rogers
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unhauled
This was the first time I read a novel written in prose. It was quite a quick read, about a family trying to escape civil war in Sudan, and their subsequent life in Maine, USA. I enjoyed it very much and hope to read more from this author and on this subject in the future.
Jan 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a simplistic quality to this book; it felt like a YA book. The prose is nice but not poetic. I thought the story was interesting, has a bit of "outsider" sentimentality, but I wouldn't look for another by this author.
Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book! I thought the figurative language was beautifully written. I was always following the story!
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This story of a young girl and her family who live in South Sudan surrounded by the horrors of war is beautifully written in free verse. The author's spare use of words cuts right to the heart of the story and easily captures and portrays the fear, pain, and uncertainty that these characters endure and surmount to keep their spirit and their culture alive. You come to know Viola so well and, yet, her character is not handed to you on a platter. You understand it all through the powerful feelings ...more
Apr 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, beautiful. The language is so stripped down, nothing can hide in the words.
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Some of the scenes here broke my heart.
Oct 19, 2018 rated it liked it
In the book, The Good Braider by Terry Farish, it tells you the story of a young girl's journey from at first being in Juba, Africa, where there is a war going on, and the United States, where she becomes a new woman. Her name is Viola and in the beginning of the book she describes the war and how that is affecting her, and then she meets this boy named Andrew. Andrew is also affected by the war and both of them are mistreated by the soldiers, ultimately moving them to the United States. In the ...more
Mar 29, 2014 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
Sofia The Great
Jul 16, 2014 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
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.
Feb 26, 2015 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.
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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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