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The Good Braider

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,607 Ratings  ·  291 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
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
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
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 ...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
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 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
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 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
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.
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.
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
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
Sofia Galvez
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
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.
Nicole Lisa
Apr 09, 2016 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 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.
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-lit
That's okay.... I didn't need my heart in one piece anyway.
Oliver Eastwood
Oct 20, 2016 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 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.
Carol Baldwin
Apr 02, 2014 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
May 15, 2017 rated it liked it
The book "The Good Braider" by Terry Farish is a story about a young girl and her mothers journey from her home country, which is filled with war and death and rape, to the United States. The book talks a lot about the war and it's desperation. The main character feels lost a lot because of everyone around her dying. I think the author did a really good job talking about the change in America and how different it was for them. Their traditions and cultures are very different. I thought that the ...more
O Williams
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The sad, powerful, triumphant story of Viola, a Sudanese girl trying to find refuge--and a home--away from the war dividing her country.


- I don't like being sad from a book, but I know the world is filled with sad stories and sad things and of course all of us feel sad at one point or another in our lives. So I like the realism of Viola's sad, hard journey. There were three big instances in the book that made me feel grief, and then there was the underlying sadness in the second half of th
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an important novel for all to read. It touches on key issues like cultural identity, self-worth, and acceptance. While this is a piece of fiction, many of Viola’s experiences are mirrored in the lives of so many Sudanese refugees. This book is raw and real. It addresses some very mature content such as rape and violence, but Viola’s story is screaming from the pages to be heard. You will hopefully gain a new perspective and better understanding for what it means to flee from a war-torn c ...more
May 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Though this book was not one that I would necessarily read again it is I believe a book that should be read once. The Good Braider by Terry Farish is a book filled with emotion. I did not directly associate with the book and at times felt that it was a bit distant and confusing, especially at the point when the main character's mother was abusive. However though I did not necessarily connect with this book I think it gives a good insight on immigrant life.
Jul 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
This YA novel is the perfect read for lessons and discussions on refugees, immigration, and the history and culture of Sudan/South Sudan. The writing is beautiful, concise and poetic, making it an interesting read for those in middle school to adulthood. I loved the connection of the prologue (Fire) to part 3 (War) which seemed to represent the true transition to America for Viola and her mother. A story about letting go and holding on all at once.
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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
“We both keep walking in the desert, following a fragile dream of America.” 2 likes
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