Sunday, March 18, 2012

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Ha has lived in Saigon all her life.  While the war might be over for the Americans, it carries on for those who live in Vietnam. Ha and her family are forced to flee to America, and now Ha must learn to speak a strange language and adapted to the strange place that is Alabama.

Inside Out & Back Again is written a verse.  Books written in verse can sometimes be really annoying if there isn't any reason for the character to be writing in that fashion.  In this case, it made perfect sense, it was beautiful and I loved it.  Ha is ten years old and is writing is a journal or diary.  The short sentence structure helped me to better picture a child her age.  While I know that it doesn't make sense that Ha would be writing in English, at least not from the very beginning, the structure also seemed to reflect someone who did not have a strong grasp on language, so she was writing very simply.

While the language was simple and the sentences short, there were beautifully painted descriptions, from the other children at school to her papaya tree in Vietnam.  Ha writes about her sadness at leaving Vietnam and everything she knows, her brothers who tease her, wishing for her father who she doesn't remember and the hardships in America.  Ha has a very hard time at school and is mercilessly teased by the other children about how she talks and how she looks.  Many people in town will have nothing to do with them until they get baptized at church.

There was no happy ending to this story, but it does end with hope.  Ha and ever family begin a new year accepting the sad things they cannot change and are ready to move forward.

Highly recommended.


  1. I've heard wonderful things about this book. Thanks for reviewing it. I will have to add it to my TBR pile.

    1. I hope you like it when you read it! It was excellent.


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