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Inside Out & Back Again
Contributor(s): Lai, Thanhha (Author)

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ISBN: 0061962791     ISBN-13: 9780061962790
Publisher: HarperCollins
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Binding Type: Paperback - See All Available Formats & Editions
Published: January 2013

Annotation: 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.
Additional Information
BISAC Categories:
- Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes - Emigration & Immigration
- Juvenile Fiction | Family - General (see Also Headings Under Social Themes)
- Juvenile Fiction | People & Places - Asia
Dewey: FIC
Age Level: 8-12
Grade Level: 3-7
Lexile Measure: 800(Not Available)
Physical Information: 0.7" H x 5.1" W x 7.5" (0.40 lbs) 262 pages
Accelerated Reader Info
Quiz #: 142622
Reading Level: 4.8   Interest Level: Middle Grades   Point Value: 2.0
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Contributor Bio(s): Lai, Thanhha: -

Thanhhà Lai is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Inside Out & Back Again, her debut novel in verse, which won both a National Book Award and a Newbery Honor, and the acclaimed Listen, Slowly, which was named to numerous best book of the year lists. She was born in Viêt Nam and now lives in New York with her family. To learn more about Thanhhà and her charity, Viet Kids Inc., visit www.thanhhalai.com.

Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall)
Recounting events that resemble her own family's 1975 flight from Saigon, Lai pens a novel in vividly imagined verse. In Alabama, Ha is daunted by challenges including mastering idiosyncratic English. Many people are cruelly antagonistic, but Ha soon finds allies at school. Spare language captures the sensory disorientation of changing cultures as well as a refugee's complex emotions and kaleidoscopic loyalties. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #2)
Recounting events that resemble her own family's 1975 flight from Saigon and first months in the United States, Lai pens a novel in vividly imagined verse. Each brief poem encapsulates a mood and experience of that year. As the Vietnam War nears its end in April, ten-year-old Ha's "Birthday Wishes" include "Wish Mother would stop / chiding me to stay calm / which makes it worse" and that "Father [who's missing in action] would come home." Registering for school in Alabama in August, Ha encounters "a woman who / pats my head / while shaking her own. / I step back, / hating pity, /...the pity giver / feels better, / never the pity receiver." Such condescension is new to Ha and her brothers, all excellent students, as is being daunted by challenges like the urgent need to master idiosyncratic English. Meanwhile, Brother Vu takes odd jobs; Quang (who once said, "One cannot justify war / unless each side / flaunts its own / blind conviction") repairs cars. Many neighbors and classmates, with their own blind convictions, are cruelly antagonistic, but Ha soon finds allies at school and in English-tutor Ms. Washington. Lai's spare language captures the sensory disorientation of changing cultures as well as a refugee's complex emotions and kaleidoscopic loyalties. That Ms. Washington's son died in Vietnam underlines the disparity between nations' quarrels and their citizens' humanity, suggesting this as a provocative companion to Katherine Paterson's Park's Quest (rev. 7/88). joanna rudge long Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2011 January #5)

Narrating in sparse free-verse poems, 10-year-old Hà brings a strong, memorable voice to the immigrant experience as her family moves from war-torn South Vietnam to Alabama in 1975. First-time author Lai, who made the same journey with her family, divides her novel into four sections set in Vietnam, "At Sea," and the last two in Alabama. Lai gives insight into cultural and physical landscapes, as well as a finely honed portrait of Hà's family as they await word about Hà's POW father and face difficult choices (awaiting a sponsor family, "...Mother learns/ sponsors prefer those/ whose applications say ‘Christians.'/ Just like that/ Mother amends our faith,/ saying all beliefs/ are pretty much the same"). The taut portrayal of Hà's emotional life is especially poignant as she cycles from feeling smart in Vietnam to struggling in the States, and finally regains academic and social confidence. A series of poems about English grammar offer humor and a lens into the difficulties of adjusting to a new language and customs ("Whoever invented English/ should be bitten/ by a snake"). An incisive portrait of human resilience. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC

Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2011 March)

Gr 4–6—A story based on the author's childhood experiences. Hà is 10 when Saigon falls and her family flees Vietnam. First on a ship, then in two refugee camps, and then finally in Alabama, she and her family struggle to fit in and make a home. As Hà deals with leaving behind all that is familiar, she tries to contain her temper, especially in the face of school bullies and the inconsistencies of the English language. She misses her papaya tree, and her family worries about friends and family remaining in Vietnam, especially her father, who was captured by Communist forces several years earlier. Told in verse, each passage is given a date so readers can easily follow the progression of time. Sensory language describing the rich smells and tastes of Vietnam draws readers in and contrasts with Hà's perceptions of bland American food, and the immediacy of the narrative will appeal to those who do not usually enjoy historical fiction. Even through her frustration with her new life and the annoyances of her three older brothers, her voice is full of humor and hope.—Jennifer Rothschild, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Oxon Hill, MD

[Page 164]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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