Synopses & Reviews
Two sisters, Jeannie and Sarah, tell their separate yet tightly interwoven stories in alternating narrative poems. Each sister - Jeannie, who leaves Scotland during the Highland Clearances with her father, mother, and the younger children, and Sarah, who hides so she can stay behind with her grandmother - carries a length of the others hair braided with her own. The braid binds them together when they are worlds apart and reminds them of who they used to be before they were evicted from the Western Isles, where their family had lived for many generations.
The award-winning poet Helen Frost eloquently twists strand over strand of language, braiding the words at the edges of the poems to bring new poetic forms to life while intertwining the destinies of two young girls and the people who cross their paths in this unforgettable novel. An authors note describes the inventive poetic form in detail. The Braid is a 2007 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
"Frost's (Spinning Through the Universe) ingeniously structured novel in verse about a Scottish family may be set in 1850, but its themes will resonant with today's teens. The events unfold through the alternating perspectives of sisters Sarah, the oldest of four, whose strength and agility with tools help her father ('just like a lad,' says he), and Jeannie, the comely one with golden curls. Readers quickly learn that the British landlords are forcing out the residents of Scotland's Western Isle of Barra. The night before the family's planned departure for Canada, Sarah braids together her hair with Jeannie's, takes one half of the braid for herself and leaves the other for her sister. While 14-year-old Jeannie departs with her parents and two younger siblings by boat, 15-year-old Sarah hides out in order to stay with their grandmother and return with the woman to Mingulay, the small island south of Barra where their grandfather is buried. The braid not only symbolizes the bond between the sisters ('You'll always long for Jeannie, Aunt Mari says [to Sarah]. No matter how far/ away she is, you may know when something hard is happening to her'), but also nods to Frost's form here, the Celtic knot, which she employs seamlessly. This brief, memorable book spans two years, several deaths, first love and the stigma attached to unwed mothers, while also conveying the resolve of one family to survive and to preserve hope. Ages 12-up." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"This gem of a book ultimately tackles age-old issues of teen pregnancy, death, poverty, and first love in a timeless manner. Accomplished and impressive." —Starred, School Library Journal "The braid is both powerful fact and stirring metaphor . . . the book will inspire students and teachers to go back and study how the taut poetic lines manage to contain the powerful feelings." —Starred, Booklist Frost's ingeniously structured novel in verse . . . may be set in 1850, but its themes will resonate with today's teens. Memorable." —Starred, Publishers Weekly "Poetry, adventure, romance, historical fiction--this book has something for every reader." —VOYA "Incredibly imagery, rich vocabulary, and powerful storytelling." —Kirkus Reviews “Compellingly poignant as well as authentic.” —Horn Book "A compelling story that will see poetry-shy readers through." —The Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books "Makes for good discussion in the social studies classroom. Poetic and lyrical."—Signal "This inventive, emotionally compelling story full of adventure, drama and romace will enthrall readers." —Language Arts
In this unforgettable novel, award-winning poet Helen Frost eloquently twists strand over strand of language, braiding the words at the edges of the poems to bring new poetic forms to life while intertwining the destinies of two young girls and the people who cross their paths.
About the Author
Helen Frost is the author of several books for young people, including Hidden, Diamond Willow, Crossing Stones, and Keeshas House, selected an Honor Book for the Michael L. Printz Award. Helen Frost was born in Brookings,South Dakota, the fifth of ten children. She recalls the summer her family moved from South Dakota to Oregon, traveling in a big trailer and camping in places like the Badlands and Yellowstone. Her father told the family stories before they went to sleep, and Helen would dream about their travels, her family, and their old house. “Thats how I became a writer,” she says. “I didnt know it at the time, but all those things were accumulating somewhere inside me.” As a child, she loved to travel, think, swim, sing, learn, canoe, write, argue, sew, play the piano, play softball, play with dolls, daydream, read, go fishing, and climb trees. Now, when she sits down to write, her own experiences become the details of her stories. Helen has lived in South Dakota, Oregon, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, Scotland, Colorado, Alaska, California, and Indiana. She currently lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with her family.