Title: The Good Braider
Author: Terry Farish
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish
Pub Date: 05/01/2012
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: One of the biggest downfalls of poetry novels is that it gets so wrapped up in the structured poetry of what is said that the concept doesn't work as a sustained project. That was not at all the case for this book. There were moments that the words caught my attention, but for the most part I was entirely wrapped up in the story of the character, Viola. The delicacy of how the words fit together really added to the telling through its crispness. Sometimes fewer words make a bigger impact than a whole novel, and Farish used this to her advantage and created a beautiful, short book.
Memorable or Forgettable: I've been thinking a lot about racial representation in teen books, and how white so many of the books I've read are. This said, it was great to see a book that included a story outside of white, middle class, pretty white girl. Even though Viola's story as a Sudanese refugee is completely outside of my own life experiences, I related with her as a character. This just proves that empathizing with characters is not based on physical similarities, but human connection. Reading the book also expanded my knowledge about the conflict in Sudan, and the process of becoming a refugee in an extremely relatable and significant way.
Cover: I liked the simplicity and honesty of the cover. The braids connected to the title and story, the colors contrasted to work together for maximum impact on a small canvas. Visually, it also represents diversifying the image presented on YA covers - please increase it even more!
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: Viola has known a life of war, fear, and oppression in Sudan before fleeing to the United States as a refugee. Her struggles do not end there as she adjusts to a new value system and culture.