The Good Braiderby Terry Farish
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/i>
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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. It flows and you are instantly transported to Sudan where you meet Viola, her mother, brother and grandmother. You walk the streets as she does in constant fear until she escapes her town and then follow her to the United States as a refugee. This book was written by a WHITE woman, Terry Farish, who became a part of the Sudanese community in Maine in order to give Viola the most accurate/beautiful voice I have read to date. She did her research and did it incredibly well. As I mentioned before a great book is one that will stay with you and it has been a month since I’ve read this book and stuck with me it has. As I also mentioned a great book will have you thinking and so this one has. One thought is this… Not too long ago we were raving about The Hunger Games movie and the trilogy. We continue to rave about dystopian novels similar to The Hunger Games. What we fail to recognize is that there are people in present day living these dystopian novels only hours away. Although Viola’s story is “fictional” it is very much real and we should make sure our children know this. With that said I’m gifting this book to every member in my family.
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.