Cover image for The Good braider / Terry Farish.
The Good braider / Terry Farish.
Publication Information:
Las Vegas, Nevada : Skyscape, [2012]

Physical Description:
221 pages ; 18 cm
Follows Viola as she survives brutality in war-torn Sudan, makes a perilous journey, lives as a refugee in Egypt, and finally reaches Portland, Maine, where her quest for freedom and security is hampered by memories of past horrors and the traditions her mother and other Sudanese adults hold dear. Includes historical facts and a map of Sudan.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
FAR Paperback Teen Collection
FAR Book Teen Collection

On Order



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.

Reviews 1

Horn Book Review

In Juba, Sudan, life is a mixture of fear and violence for Viola and her family. Viola is haunted by the image of the narrow back of a young boy shot by a soldier for attempting to defend her. When the soldier rapes her, and her "bride price" is compromised, Viola, her mother, and her brother Francis decide to escape their bleak, war-torn village in hopes of a better future. The three flee to Cairo, and, though their journey is delayed by seemingly endless red tape, they finally settle, in the summer of 2002, amidst a large Sudanese community in Portland, Maine. The free-form verse and repetitive symbolism tie this portion of Violas life, tenuously, to her slowly receding connections to Sudan. The sometimes disjointed language is a fitting complement to the shattered fragments of Violas existence. Farish succeeds best when exploring the clashes between African and American culture. Though she breaks no new ground with the immigrant story, she deftly illuminates the tensions between Violas mothers traditional ways and Violas desire to assimilate. Yet Violas attachment to Africa remains strong through Farishs powerful imagery, especially the importance of braiding for African women, which effectively weaves the elements of her story together. rebecca kirshenbaum (c) Copyright 2012. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.