The Good Braider

The Good Braider
Age Range
Release Date
May 01, 2012
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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 girl can wear a short skirt, get a tattoo or even date a boy; a world that puts her into sharp conflict with her traditional mother who, like Viola, is struggling to braid together the strands of a displaced life. Terry Farish's haunting novel is not only a riveting story of escape and survival, but the universal tale of a young immigrant's struggle to build a life on the cusp of two cultures.

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1 review
The Story of a "Lost Girl"
Overall rating
Writing Style
Viola, her mother, and her brother are doing their best in war-torn Sudan, where all the men have gone to fight and those left behind are terrorized by soldiers. Viola is not exempt from the violence; when she is raped, the family escapes to stay with an uncle in Portland, Maine. There, they must adjust to the extreme cultural differences between Sudan and the United States.

Terry Farish's The Good Braider is a powerful way to learn about the Sudan and an immigrant experience.The clash of the desires of the Sudanese elders and American teenagers is constant, with Viola trying to braid together her old life and new. Some of the surprises that Viola encounters are things I have never considered. For example, her American friend Abby tells her that she must wear her seat belt or the police will get her. Viola is stunned that the police would care whether she died or not.

I have read many novels in verse about the experiences of immigrants, although none geared for older readers, so I would hesitate to lump this into a unit on literature circles with books like Inside Out and Back Again, Home of the Brave, and All the Broken Pieces. The Good Braider is a stand-alone work. Although it is written in verse, it does not appear that way on a kindle, so the experience of reading it as poetry was lost. I recommend reading a paper copy of the book, so that Farish's words can truly sink in.
Good Points
An insight into the girls of Sudan, who are often ignored.
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