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The Good Braider by [Farish, Terry]
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The Good Braider Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 169 customer reviews

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Length: 224 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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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: 489 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Skyscape (May 1, 2012)
  • Publication Date: May 1, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #209,522 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Rodriguez on May 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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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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