Fourteen-year-old Viola lives in Juba, Sudan with her loving grandmother, strong-willed mother, and adoring little brother. Although danger is constantly present in the form of land mines, armed soldiers, and starvation, Viola loves her family and community, and remembers the days when Juba was a lush paradise. When she is raped by a soldier when walking home one evening, however, her family decides to make the treacherous journey from Sudan to Egypt to the United States. Tragedy occurs along the way, and Viola finds herself torn between the luxuries found in America, and the high cost her family paid to get there. Eventually, Viola discovers that she does not have to be defined by horrors in her past, and that she can live as a strong, proud Sudanese American woman.
How Much Can You Lose? January 2, 2014
Growing up in southern Sudan while the civil war raged was difficult to say the least. Viola doesn’t even remember her father, and her mother and grandmother struggle to keep the soldiers at bay in their small home which becomes a gathering place for many other widowed women in the community. Viola hasn’t been able to attend school since the northern Sudanese took over, but she does try to keep things going at home with her younger brother Francis.
But how can you live when even a boy trying to protect you soldiers on the street can be killed in front of your eyes? Something horrible happens to Viola, and her mother realizes they must leave. After a few false starts, Viola, her mother and little brother begin the flight to America. After much trauma, Viola is able to begin a new life, however, nothing is what she thought it would be.
The Good Braider by Terry Farish is a harsh, realistic look at immigrants and the situations that can bring people to America. It shows the huge adjustments that immigrants are forced to make in order to assimilate to a new country and culture.
Due to the realistic situations Viola and her family encounter, this book is recommended for mature 8th graders and older.