THE BRAID (Young Adult: 12 and up)
Farrar, Straus & Giroux / Frances Foster Books

"...this gem of a book ultimately tackles age-old issues of teen pregnancy, death, poverty, and first love in a timeless manner."

School Library Journal, starred

A novel-in-poems for Young Adults

Two sisters, Sarah and Jeannie, are separated during the Highland Clearances in Scotland in 1850. Their stories are told in alternating narrative poems, braided at the edges in a form invented for this book, inspired by Celtic knotwork.

 
 

Note from a teacher

A teacher at Salt River High School in the Pima-Maricopa community, Scottsdale, Arizona wrote to say:

"As a school, we have never had this response to a book before, so this is a wonderful experience. Not only that, but since our students allowed themselves to enjoy your book and enter the world of The Braid, they have begun to enjoy other books as well. ... I hope you enjoy the fact that you have touched the lives of our students at SRHS. We have young men enjoying Romeo and Juliet and the Cask of Amontillado, and there are no words to describe how wonderful that is. Your book showed them the way of how to enjoy reading. Thank you, Ms. Frost, very much."

George Schultze

 
 

AWARDS and HONORS

YALSA "Best Books for Young Adults, 2007"

2007 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book

2007 honor book: "Lion and the Unicorn" Award for Excellence in North American Poetry

School Library Journal "Best Books of the Year, 2006"

Kirkus Reviews "Editor's Choice, 2006"

NCSS-CBC Notable Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies

Notable Book in Historical Fiction, 2007, for the Children's Literature Assembly (CLA) an affiliate of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)

Bank Street College of Education Children's Book Committee "Best Children's Books of the Year, 2007"

Cooperative Children's Book Center "CCBC Choices 2007"

Special Recognition: 2007 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People

Pennsylvania Young Readerís Choice Awards Master List

Texas TAYSHAS High School Reading List

 
 

INTERVIEWS and ARTICLES

A Fuse #8 Review

The October issue of School Library Journal features an "Under Cover" interview with me, by Rick Margolis.

And see an interview about The Braid on Amy Bowllan's School Library Journal blog, September 12, 2006.

 
 

REACTIONS FROM TEEN READERS

"It's my first time reading some kind of book like that, cause I don't usually read. You know. I liked it too. Helen Frost, you done good."

DeMario

"I love the book so much!!! The history of it appeals to me, as well as the story, the characters and the structure of the book."

Ana Liuzzi

"I just wanted to let you know how much I loved your newest book! I loved the fact that it was historical fiction with believable problems. The girls faced problems you hear about everyday. I especially loved the fact that it was historical fiction. I am really getting into that genre with other things I read. Again, It was GREAT!"

Colleen Quigley

 
 

REVIEWS

 
 

Starred Review in Publishers Weekly

Frost's ... ingeniously structured novel in verse about a Scottish family may be set in 1850, but its themes will resonant with today's teens. ... The braid not only symbolizes the bond between the sisters ... 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. (Oct.)

 
 

Starred Review in School Library Journal

"...this gem of a book ultimately tackles age-old issues of teen pregnancy, death, poverty, and first love in a timeless manner. Frost tells the compelling story using a formal structure consisting of narrative poems in alternating voices, praise poems, and line lengths based on syllabic count. While the inventive form is accomplished and impressive, it's the easy flow of the verse and its emotional impact that will carry even reluctant readers into the windswept landscape and the hardships and dreams of these two girls."

Jill Heritage Maza

 
 

Starred Review in Booklist

"...The braid is both powerful fact and stirring metaphor in the girls' story of lasting connections, oceans apart, and it extends to encompass themes of home, shelter, and heritage, as well as the yearning for family wherever one lives. In concluding notes, Frost explains the poetic forms she used, which braid together the two immediate voices with echoing words and rhythms."

Hazel Rochman

 
 

Horn Book

"...a pleasing "braid" of sound and sense; ...the events in this historical refugee tale are compellingly poignant as well as authentic, the sisters courageous and well realized."

J.R.L.

 
 

Children's Literature

Despite an incredible use of form, neither story becomes in the least bit stilted, flowing easily through the events of each child's life over a roughly three-year period. . . the long narrative poems are structured such that each line has the same number of syllables as each girl's age, growing almost imperceptibly as the novel progresses. The symmetry Frost uses is simply breathtaking, more so for being nearly unnoticeable without close examination. Her use of imagery and depiction of the girls' lives elevate this work to the level of art.

 
 

VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

"...The result is a lyrical feeling that transports the reader and prevents the transitions in the story between Canada and Scotland from being too jarring. Poetry, adventure, romance, historical fiction-this book has something for every reader."

Debbie Clifford

 
 

Kirkus Reviews

"Telling of the struggle and adventures of two teenage sisters, one in Nova Scotia, the other on the isle of Barra in the 1850's, this is also an adventure in language....Readers will hold their breaths waiting to discover what happens to the sisters while their verbal reservoirs will be restocked with incredible imagery, rich vocabulary and powerful storytelling."

 

The cover of The Braid features a painting by Louise Brierley depicting Sarah, Grandma Peggy and Murdo Campbell as they leave the isle of Barra.

More About The Braid at:

FSG Books for Young Readers

The Braid at IndieBound

The picture below was taken on the Island of Mingulay, in the Western Isles of Scotland, where part of The Braid takes place.