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The Good Braider [Kindle Edition]

Terry Farish
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $9.99
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Book Description

The Good Braider was selected as the 2013 Bank Street College of Education Best Book of the Year and a Book of Outstanding Merit.

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.

The author of The Good Braider has donated this book to the Worldreader program.

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up–The Good Braider follows Viola on a journey from her home in ravaged Sudan to Cairo and finally to the folds of a Sudanese community in Maine. Viola’s story, told in free verse, is difficult to read without a constant lurking sense of both dread and hope. In the opening scene she gazes at the curve of the back of a boy walking the street in front of her, only to view his senseless execution moments later. This tension never completely dissipates, though it takes on different forms throughout her story; by the end it is replaced not by the fear of execution or of the lecherous soldier who forces her to trade herself for her family’s safety, but by the tension of walking the line between her mother’s cultural expectations and the realities of her new country. Yet while Farish so lyrically and poignantly captures Viola’s wrenching experience leaving her home, navigating the waiting game of refugee life, and acculturating into the United States, she’s equally successful in teasing out sweet moments of friendship and universal teenage experiences. Viola’s memorable, affecting voice will go far to help students step outside of their own experience and walk a mile in another’s shoes.–Jill Heritage Maza, Montclair Kimberley Academy, Montclair, NJ August 2012

From Booklist

Like Mark Bixler’s adult book The Lost Boys of Sudan (2005), this powerful novel tells today’s refugee story from a young viewpoint, but here, the Sudanese teen is a girl. In free-verse poems, Viola, 16, remembers being driven from home in the brutal civil war, then the long, barefoot trek to Khartoum and Cairo, escaping landmines and suffering hunger along the way, until at last she and her mother get refugee status, board a plane, and join her uncle in Portland, Maine’s Sudanese community. Never exploitative, Viola’s viewpoint will grip readers with its harsh truths: the shame of her rape in Sudan and the loss of her “bride wealth”; the heartbreak when her little brother dies during their escape; her wrenching separation from her grandmother. The contemporary drama in Maine is also moving and immediate. At 17, Viola is thrilled to go to school, and she makes friends, even a boyfriend who teaches her to drive: but can he get over her rape? Always there is her mother, enraged by the new ways. An essential addition to the Booklist Core Collection feature, “The New Immigration Story.” — Hazel Rochman, July 1, 2012

Product Details

  • File Size: 493 KB
  • Print Length: 229 pages
  • Publisher: Skyscape (May 1, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #168,249 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing May 22, 2012
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, THINK and WONDER. Not only while you are reading but hours, days, months later. Great books embed themselves into your DNA.

This is that kind of book.

I signed up for Netgalley and this was the first book I requested and received. I saw the cover and title and had to read the description. I read the description and knew I would like this story. I read the story and walked away in love.

I cannot begin to describe how much I felt this book mine, knowing fully well that it couldn't be because I'm 34 and no I haven't had to live with a war right outside my front door. Yet I could still relate and many parts of this book could be my story.

Perhaps it's because some of my ancestors are from Africa. "For this moment, let's be free, I say to them. They could not know the dance of the journey I am just beginning, but they dance with me always."

Perhaps it's because when my mind wanders it too sways to the beat of drums and they too beat "Be Free".

Perhaps it's because I know what it's like to live in the United States and your elders desperately want to hold on to their history, culture and traditions while raising you in a very different world because "no one in America is from America" yet are.

This entire book is written in free verse, a poem if you will.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By Merin
Viola is a teenager living in war-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 that go hand-in-hand with that change.

This book was written in free verse, and I have to say that the short phrases, the emphasis on portions of the sentences, really worked well to convey Viola's voice and feelings. You get to see through her eyes as things become too much for her to bear in Sudan; you get to experience what it's like to be a refugee traveling to a camp, and then on a boat to Egypt, and a bus to Cairo. You get to see her and her mother's struggles to gain refugee status and be permitted to come to the US, and the differences in cultures and the ways they had to adapt and change. Viola was a very well-drawn character with such a unique voice and spirit; even when she's at her lowest, there was just something about her that didn't allow her to give up. She has very real flaws, mostly dealing with the fact that she had to leave her grandmother behind in Sudan, and also something traumatic that happened to her. She and her mother face so many difficulties, but both are wonderfully strong women who never give up.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking and powerful August 2, 2012
I don't usually read books written in free verse, but in this case it suits. The stark writing style only accentuated the emotions and brutality of the story. This is one of those books that leaves you kind of breathless at the end, as if you have witnessed something terrible and something beautiful. There are so many awful things that happen in this book, but there is also so much hope.

I loved Viola, who is so strong despite the horrors she has lived through. Her courage was my favorite part of the book. America is so alien to her and her family, but she is determined to learn the new rules and excel in her new life. She manages it much better than her mother does, which leads to possible the most painful part of the novel.

This book is beautifully written and utterly engrossing. Bittersweet and sad, it is sometimes difficult to read, but I couldn't stop.

I received an advance e-copy from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting subject matter, boring execution August 8, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
This is the second book I've read in this vein, a historical novel written in verse about the immigrant/refugee experience (the first one being the charming Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai). I was hoping to enjoy this one, too, but it fell short of my expectations.

When I read a book about a place that's that different from my own home, I want to know what it's like. I want descriptions of the landscape, of the sights and smells and sounds of the place. We got a few, but not enough to create a good picture of Viola's home in southern Sudan. For me, the first part of the book (where Viola's family journeyed up the Nile to Cairo) was the weakest. We're told that war surrounded them. Soldiers lurked everywhere, waiting to do bad things. Then the family got on a plane. And a train. And a boat. And then they got to Cairo and stayed there for a couple of years. The writing didn't convey the arduousness of their trek or the passage of time the way I expected it to. Instead, I struggled through the first half of the book, feeling disoriented and lost. And a little bit bored, if I'm being honest.

Things started to get more interesting once Viola got to Maine, but that was probably because the author was then writing about a place she knew firsthand. Maine came alive on the pages in a way that Sudan hadn't. And I found that to be disappointing.

It's not a bad book. It's just a little uneven. I would have liked to see stronger descriptions in the Africa parts of the story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Loved it.
Published 19 days ago by Janann
5.0 out of 5 stars Window to a Cultural Understanding
This book offers a beautiful glimpse into a culture that is so different to the American way of life. Read more
Published 1 month ago by clsiowa
5.0 out of 5 stars an eye opening look at immigration and transitional woes refugees...
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. Read more
Published 2 months ago by amazon143er
3.0 out of 5 stars Lovely story through a teenagers point of view. She's ...
Lovely story through a teenagers point of view. She's trying to hold on to her ethnicity
and become an 'american girl'.
Published 2 months ago by Amy McGuire Kates
4.0 out of 5 stars It was a good short read
It was a good short read, however I wasn't very happy with the way it ended, it was too abrupt.
Published 2 months ago by Sholonda Jackson
4.0 out of 5 stars Good easy read..
I found this to be a different, easy to read, book. Knowing it was based off stories heard by the writer, I found it very interesting and made me want to know more about the... Read more
Published 4 months ago by carol hurst
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good book
I really liked this book--it was extremely compelling and well written. However, sometimes I had to go back a chapter to figure out what was happening...a little annoying. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Barbara Orlan
4.0 out of 5 stars Black women are strong
strong characters, good reading
Published 5 months ago by joan l taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars good
Published 5 months ago by ...
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
I would have given this book a five but it was sometimes difficult to follow because of the style of the writing. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Kindle Customer
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More About the Author

TERRY Farish has been writing novels and nonfiction about refugees and immigrants for many years, informed by her early work for the Red Cross in Vietnam. Her newest novel, EITHER THE BEGINNING OR THE END OF THE WORLD, (coming in Oct.) is a love story between a Cambodian-American girl and soldier returned from Afghanistan. THE GOOD BRAIDER is her award-wining free verse novel for young adults and adults. Farish leads literacy programs for the New Hampshire Humanities Council and was the project manager in the creation of a bilingual folktale in Nepali and English, THE STORY OF A PUMPKIN, with refugees from Bhutan. Her forthcoming picture book THE ALLEYWAY, (2016) is about a Dominican-American boy whose brother is deployed in the U.S. Army. Farish speaks in schools, communities, and colleges about the literature of war for children and young adults and the story of an immigrant's journey in a deeply complicated world. She lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

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