Thursday, May 29, 2014
The Good Braider
Author: Terry Farish
Info: Marshall Cavendish, copyright 2012, 213 pages
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.
The book is divided into parts which really help expand on Viola's experience. In the first part, we see her life in Juba. We come to understand the struggle for survival, the constant fear of soldiers, the desperate need to escape, and the communication with loved ones who have already left the country. Then we're on the road with Viola and her mother and brother, fleeing their country to the unknown, scraping for food, desperate for information and guidance. Once in Cairo, the story shifts to one of waiting. Long waiting. We see the relationship between Viola and her mother strengthen, and we come to respect Viola's passion for education and understanding. Finally, our heroine makes it to America, but without all of the context before, the reader couldn't fully appreciate the struggle between culture, heritage, and family relationships. By the end we see a young woman who has overcome immense obstacles to be a strong, independent African and American.
No "not awesome" today. I really enjoyed the book. I'm really starting to come around to novels-in-verse. At first I was intimidated because they remind me too much of poetry, but the free verse allows for a great emotional impact. I really liked Viola and wanted to see her succeed, and to see her life from then until now really allowed for a better understanding and respect for refugees.