• Book

Inside out and back again

by Lai, Thanhha.

There are currently 5 available

Where To Find It

Call number: Y Fiction, R Newbery Honor 2012

Available Copies: Downtown Youth, Pittsfield Youth, West Youth

Additional Details

Through a series of poems, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother, and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama.

Community Reviews

Struck a Chord with Me

I really enjoyed this little volume of free verse about a 10 y.o. girl whose family leaves Saigon in the tumult of 1975 and starts a new life in a small town in Alabama. I think my 10 y.o. daughter and older kids should like it, too, especially girls. It combines a lot of big happenings (the evacuation, desperation on a ship, refugee camp, racism) with personal issues (Ha's annoyance at her older brothers, friends and bullies at school, her thoughts about American food).

Likely Won't Remember This in a Year

The year is 1975. The place, South Vietnam. Ten year old Ha lives with her mother and two brothers in the rapidly deteriorating Saigon, with military forces from the North moving imminently toward the South. Her father, a military member, has been missing for years. Ha and her family flee their native country on a Navy ship and find themselves living in Alabama, sponsored by a family there. She must learn English and adjust to American culture very quickly.

Ha's experience is captured in a series of "poems" from her point of view, with each poem serving as one chapter. The language is often beautiful and sometimes quite moving. I particularly liked the line, "No one would believe me / but at times / I would choose / wartime in Saigon / over / peacetime in Alabama".

The one thing that will keep me from remembering and recommending this book to others in the future is that so much of the book is about Ha's feelings and responses to people around her that it's not always clear what the other people and places she's in look, sound, and act like. The focus is so heavily internal that I had a hard time imagining the external, so there aren't many images of scenes that linger in the mind.

I did enjoy the read, but it's not one that invites re-reading.

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