Friday, April 27, 2012

The Good Braider

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.


  1. Love the cover and the title. Thanks again for introducing me to a book I had not heard about. Looking forward to checking it out.

  2. I love this cover too! Never heard of it before but it sounds like a really moving story.


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