Thursday, January 7, 2016

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhhai Lai

Inside Out & Back Again4.5 out of 5 Robots!

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Genre: Middle Grade
Release: February 22, 2011
Hardcover: 272 Pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
My Copy: Purchased
Reviewer: Shannon

Book Summary:
Inside Out and Back Again is a New York Times bestseller, a Newbery Honor Book, and a winner of the National Book Award! Inspired by the author's childhood experience of fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama, this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child's-eye view of family and immigration.

For all the ten years of her life, Hà has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Hà discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food . . . and the strength of her very own family.

This moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing received four starred reviews, including one from Kirkus which proclaimed it "enlightening, poignant, and unexpectedly funny." An author's note explains how and why Thanhha Lai translated her personal experiences into Hà's story.

(Courtesy of the Publisher)

Shannon's Thoughts:
Beautifully written in verse, Inside Out and Back Again is the story of Ha, a ten year old Vietnamese girl who flees from Saigon in 1975 when North Vietnam takes control of South Vietnam.  She finds herself a stranger in Alabama, navigating English, American food, and a new school.  

It always amazes how can be expressed in verse form.  It just shows that sometimes it doesn't take a lot of words to express ideas or emotion.  At times my heart broke for her.  Ha loved Saigon and didn't want to leave.  America was confusing and at times, cruel to her.  But she is also resilient and finds a way to carve out a new life "different, but still good".  I found a beautiful testament to immigrants and refugees.

I also enjoyed the narrator, Doan Ly. She does a great job of capturing Ha's voice and making the verse seem natural.  She does do a weird emphasis on the Vietnamese words, which slightly irritated me, but over all I thought she was a great narrator.  

Overall, I thought this was a beautiful and poignant book.  I highly recommend it.

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