The Good Braider by Terry Farish
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Viola's harrowing journey with her family from the war torn country of Sudan to Portland, Maine. Before leaving Juba, Viola is raped by a soldier; her self worth and her bride price are stripped. Farish does a superb job painting the fear, anguish and despair of Viola and those in her community in fear for their lives while trying to flee a country gripped in civil war. Once Viola, her mother and little brother escape, Juba, they begin a long perilous journey to Khartoum. Once Viola arrives in Portland, Maine settling into a community of African immigrants, attending school and working a job there is the clash of the new American culture and preserving the Sudanese culture. This novel in verse achieves the beauty of Viola's new American world and harsh reminders of the brutal civil war, Viola's voice is strong, happy, conflicted, scared, and hopeful. I loved the braiding title, which symbolized Viola's African world of beauty and how once in the US, she does not braid anymore and will not have her own hair braided. It is through her friends and family from the Sudan as well as her American friends that Viola finds her place in her new world of Portland, Maine. This is a must read for young adults; they will learn about the genocide the Sudanese suffered through, they will appreciate the customs and community that are so important to Viola. What is even more important for teens is to see the world through Viola's eyes and the positive and negative impact of American culture on immigrant communities. Powerful, this book is beautiful!
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