Read Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai Online


No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama. For all the ten years of her life, HÀ has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by . . . and the beauty of her very own papaya tree.But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. HÀ and her family are forced toNo one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama. For all the ten years of her life, HÀ has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by . . . and the beauty of her very own papaya tree.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, the strange shape of its landscape . . . and the strength of her very own family.This is the moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next....

Title : Inside Out & Back Again
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 10770698
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 277 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Inside Out & Back Again Reviews

  • Sandra
    2019-02-13 05:10

    {This review originally appeared on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves.}I now understandwhen they make fun of my name,yelling ha-ha-ha down the hall when they ask if I eat dog meat,barking and chewing and falling down laughingwhen they wonder if I lived in the jungle with tigers,growling and stalking on all fours.I understandbecause Brother Khoinodded into my headon the bike ride homewhen I asked if kidssaid the same thingsat his school.Thanhha Lai writes her verses in her award winning middle grade novel in verse, Inside Out and Back Again, from the heart, and memory of deeply felt experience.She poignantly and artistically brings emotion, both painful and joyful, straight from the page and into the senses. She recounts her family's escape before the fall of Saigon through the eyes and the voice of Ha Ma. With other refugees they're packed into small, often unsanitary quarters on a ship that will take them to safety, freedom and a new culture. Ha Ma, her brother Quang remembers, “was as red and fat as a baby hippopotamus” when he first saw her, thus inspiring her name, Vietnamese for river horse. He could not have imagined that in a few years her name would become the stick that tormented her in a foreign land (Alabama) far from her beloved Saigon.I taught in a public high school for many years and some of my students were children of those leaving their homelands in search of a better or freer life. Children that were just like Ha Ma. I went through the process to become certified to teach English as a Second Language. Yet with all my training and experience I realize that I could not have known the real pain these children lived with each day, in a new and strange environment.Reading Inside Out and Back Again brought me insights I'd never considered. Perhaps it is an all too human failing to believe we have understanding.Emily Dickinson wrote that she knows something is poetry when, makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me. I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?No, Emily, there is no other way. Verse or poetry distills experience into its most elemental form. It drips with love, scorn, hope, desperation, faith and understanding. Feeling the confusion of a small child in beautifully constructed lines brings a childlike dimension of understanding of the heart of experience.The reader experiences this in Inside Out and Back Again, when the family is on a ship swaying in the ocean, headed for another country. Ha's fatherless family drifts rocking back and forth seeing only water stretching before them endless and overwhelming. At only ten years of age, she comes to the realization that she has only her mother and brothers.The father lives in the family's minds as a rainbow of hope. Still they must move forward to escape certain death. If they stay in Vietnam they would likely be caught up in the throes of a lost war facing a dark, uncertain future. After a long time at sea, a sponsor from America boards their ship to bring them to a small Alabama town to begin a new life in a strange, odd land.Thanhha Lai's writing is such that while reading, I found myself imagining myself as a child seeing someone who looks so different reaching out for my family, offering home, hope, hospitality and happiness, yet, still not feeling emotionally safe.All the whileshame.This year I hopeI truly learn Needless to say, Inside Out and Back Again is most deserving of all of its aclaim. If you're not accustom to reading novels in verse, this would be a wonderful choice with which to start, as the writing is very tight and the story is completely absorbing

  • Nat
    2019-02-05 07:18

    “I’m practicingto be seen.”This book grabbed my attention with its beautiful cover, and I’m really glad that it did. Inside Out and Back Again tells the tale of Kim Hà and her journey during wartime in Vietnam.Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward Alabama.In America, the family has to start anew, where they discover the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape . . . and the strength of their very own family.“Oh, my daughter,at times you have to fight,but preferablynot with your fists.”I wasn’t expecting to read this so fast, but I simply could not put it down. I especially appreciated the love this family held for one another during such difficult times.However, the format of the story made me feel a bit disconnected from the tale. I felt like I was getting a glimpse into someone’s life, but not being fully immersed into it. I wanted to feel more connected to the family and know a bit more of their past.But overall it was a poignant and important story that will be on my mind for the next few days.3.5 stars*Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying Inside Out & Back Again , just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission!*This review and more can be found on my blog.

  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    2019-02-12 10:17

    Find all of my reviews at: those of you who know me, you might remember last year I discovered my youngest was failing to get his required nightly reading completed by opting to sit on the toilet and stare at the wall for 20 minutes every night rather than ever opening a flippin’ book. That little revelation led to us buddy reading Wonder. Unfortunately the boy child still appears to have been swapped with someone else’s baby and has yet to discover the wonderful world of book loving, so we are buddying up again this year. After having much success with The Outsiders and All American Boys he took his teacher’s recommendation and we ended up with this one - and wow what an important and timely little book it was.Told in verse, Inside Out and Back Again is about Hà, a young girl growing up in war torn Vietnam. With the fall of Saigon, Hà’s family realizes they can no longer hold on to the hope of remaining in their country and flee to America via ship. Upon reaching a refugee camp in Florida, Hà’s mother chooses Alabama as their final destination in hopes that her children can have the life she dreamed of – college, families, careers, etc. This is the story of Hà’s first year in America.First things first, since this was told in verse my kiddo was able to read it in only a couple of days which made him feel AWESOME so thank you Thanhha Lai for that format. And most importantly, to the messages presented. . . “You deserve to grow upwhere you don’t worry aboutsaving half a bite of sweet potato”“Everyone knows the shipcould sink,unable to holdthe piles of bodiesthat keep crawling onlike raging antsfrom a disrupted nest.But no oneis heartless enoughto saystopbecause what if they had beenstoppedbefore their turn?”“Mother says,People share when they know they have escaped hunger.Shouldn’t we sharebecause there is hunger?”They are something we should all be thinking of . . . Now I need a little bit of help choosing our next book (I’m leaning toward Sherman Alexie, but not 100% committed). We’ve definitely found a formula that is working – topics that are relevant to today, the shorter the better so dude feels like he’s making progress and maintains interest, NO instalovin’ mumbo jumbo, NO dystopia, would prefer something that is not a potential “required read” (i.e., The Lord of the Flies, The Chocolate War, etc.). Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

  • Ahmad Sharabiani
    2019-02-03 09:05

    Inside Out & Back Again, Thanhha Laiعنوانها: زندگی پشت و رو؛ در رویای خانه؛ نویسنده: تانا (تاینها) لایی؛عنوان: زندگی پشت و رو؛ نویسنده: تانا (تاینها) لایی؛ مترجم: بهزاد صادقیان؛ تهران، آفرینگان، 1395؛ در 318 ص؛ شابک: 9786003910256؛ موضوع: داستانهای امریکائیان ویتنامی تبار - قرن 21 معنوان: در رویای خانه؛ نویسنده: تانا (تاینها) لایی؛ مترجم: زهره خرمی؛ تهران، پرتقال، 1395؛ در 262 ص؛ شابک: 9786008111641؛ یک دختر ده ساله ویتنامی به نام: «ها»؛ شخصیت اصلی است، او روزهای خود را با مراقبت از درخت پاپایا، گوش دادن به قصه‌ های مادر، انتظار برای برگشتن پدری که هرگز او را ندیده، و سر و کله زدن با سه برادر بزرگتر خویش میگذراند. اما آنگاه که آتش جنگ در ویتنام جنوبی شعله ور می‌شود، «ها» مجبور می‌شود همراه خانواده‌ اش سوار کشتی شده، ویتنام را ترک کند. «زندگی پشت و رو» روایتگر سالهای سرنوشت ساز زندگی همین دختر استا. شربیانی

  • babyhippoface
    2019-01-18 11:17

    Read this straight through in one evening. It repeatedly put me in mind of an outstanding teacher at my school, whose family immigrated to the United States when she was about Ha's age. When we had a "Guess That Baby Picture" contest at school, she brought a school photo of herself around the age of 8, because that was all she had. There were no baby photos of her, no visual memories of her early years; they were too poor for photographs. All through this book I kept thinking, "I wonder if this is what it was like for her," and "I have to give her a copy of this book, see what she thinks of it."Me? I thought it was wonderful. I am always drawn to novels written in free verse. The form forces a talented author to show clarity and emotion with minimal language, and Lai's is just beautiful. It helped me understand what it would feel like to move from a familiar, beloved homeland to a new country with foreign customs, words, foods, and faces, to suddenly feel stupid because you cannot communicate verbally. Entitled Feel Dumb, this poem expresses that feeling succinctly:MiSSS SScott / points to me, / then to the letters / of the English alphabet.I say / A B C and so on.She tells the class to clap.I frown. MiSSS SScott / points to the numbers / along the wall.I count up to twenty.The class claps / on its own.I'm furious, / unable to explain / I already learned / fractions / and how to purify / river water.So this is / what dumb / feels like.I hate, hate, hate it. Because of Lai's insight, I gain insight myself. I can place myself in Ha's shoes in that moment. I feel what she is feeling. And I hurt for her. I get a sense of how must it feel to be physically and verbally attacked because I look different from everyone else in the room, because I cannot speak their words, because I practice a different religion, because I am an outsider with no idea of how I can make them understand me, know me. I am able to see how even good intentions can hurt, as the situation in the above poem and several others demonstrate. There is so much pain in this little novel, but oh, so much hope. Just beautiful.

  • Moe
    2019-01-19 09:30

    Let me tell you something. If I wasn't forced to write so many essay's about this stupid book, then I might have enjoyed it more. Maybe if we didn't have to analyze every sentence discussing every little detail until I accidentally tear one of the papers out because we had to flip back so many times, I probably might have enjoyed it more. This could have been a great book, and it's a shame that the new common core thinks we are "Learning" from writing useless paragraphs on how Ha's experience relates to the title. Don't let something like school ruin what could have been a great novel.

  • Betsy
    2019-02-11 13:06

    Thinking about the most memorable of children's novels, one trait in all of them has to ring true in order for them to click with their readers. The books must contain some kind of "meaning". Even the frothiest Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-type offering isn't going to remain long in the public's brain if there isn't at least a little "meaning" slipped in there. Now when I use the term "meaning" I'm being purposefully vague because it's not the kind of thing you can easily define. What is meaningful to one person might strike another as trite or overdone. I personally believe that adult novels contain this saccharine faux-meaning a lot more often than their juvenile contemporaries, and why not? Adult books can get away with it while children's books are read by the harshest of all possible critics: children. As a librarian and a reviewer, I'm pretty tough too. I get mighty suspicious of prose that gets a little too lyrical or characters that spout the book's thinly disguised premise on every other page. All this is leading up to the fact that when I turned my jaded suspicion-filled toxic eyeballs on Thanhha Lai's Inside Out and Back Again I found nothing to displease me. Lai's debut novel speaks with a natural voice that's able to make salient points and emotional scenes without descending into overly sentimental goo. This author makes a point to draw from her own life. The result is a novel that works in every conceivable way."No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama." Ha has known both in her life, actually. Born in Vietnam during the war, Ha lives with her mother and three older brothers. Her father disappeared years ago on a navy mission when Ha was just one. Today the family doesn't even know if he's alive, but when the chance comes to flee Saigon and make a new life in America, Ha's mother doesn't hesitate. Once they're settled in Alabama, Ha has a whole new set of problems ahead of her. She's homesick, mad that she's no longer the smartest girl in class, and tormented after school by some of the boys. Yet the solution, it seems, is not to become someone different but to take what she is already and find a way to make her new life work.In a way Inside Out and Back Again kind of marks the second coming of the verse novel. A couple years ago this style of writing for children was hugely popular, helped in no small part by Newbery Award winning books like Karen Hesse's Out Of The Dust. For some it represented the perfect way to get to the heart of a story without unnecessary clutter. Unfortunately, others regarded it as a quick and easy way to write a novel with a word count only slightly higher than your average picture book. The market was saturated and finally verse novels began to peter out. It finally got to the point where I became convinced that the only way a verse novel would work would be if there was some reason for it to even BE in verse. If the author couldn't justify the format then why did they even choose that style of writing? I haven't reviewed a verse novel since 2009's Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle and like Engle's book, Thanhha Lai's novel is written in verse for a concrete, very good reason. In both cases you have stories where children were entering strange new lands where they did not necessarily know the language. To make this book a verse novel, the child reader gets to be inside Ha's head while at the same time encountering sentences that are broken up in ways different from your average middle grade novel. The result is simultaneously intimate and isolating. It's perfect.There are a fair number of children's books about immigrants coming to America, most of them historical in some way. Ha's story feels a bit more contemporary since it's set in the late 20th century. Other immigrant stories for kids always cover the same territory (hostile neighbors, the other kids at school, strange foods, etc.). What I like about Lai's book is that Ha does something I've rarely seen immigrant characters do in books for kids. She gets mad. I mean really rip-roaring, snorting, furious. Here she is, a bright kid, and now she has to feel like she's stupid all that time at school simply because English isn't her first language. It's infuriating! And it was this spark of anger that cinched Ha's character for me. You can have a sympathetic protagonist set upon by the world all you want, but when that character exhibits an emotion other than mere passive acceptance or sorrow, that's when you find something about them to hold on to. Ha's anger lets child readers really understand her. It's necessary to who she is, drilled home by the section called "Wishes". In that two page spread, Ha discusses all the things she wishes for, including the return of her father. Then, tellingly, "Most I wish I were still smart."Maybe what I really liked about the book was that it wasn't a one trick pony. Sure, much of it is about moving to America and what that's like. But it's also a novel about family. Ha's brothers are hugely annoying to her when the family is living in Vietnam. They're all older, after all, and they get a bit more attention and freedom. When the family uproots and leaves everything they've known behind, Ha begins to connect to them in new ways. She becomes a comfort and helpmate to her brother Khoi when he suffers a kind of nervous breakdown over the death of his baby chick. She learns self-defense from Vu, her Bruce Lee obsessed brother. And of course it's her brother Quang who really saves the day for her in the end (I won't give away how). The change is slow in coming, which keeps it from feeling manipulative or false. It's just a natural coming together of family members in a hostile world. Good stuff.As for the writing itself, I'm a bit tired of the term "lyrical". That's just personal, though, and I'm sure that if you troll the professional reviews for descriptions of the book that word will surface again and again in relation to this book. With good reason, of course. Lai knows from which she speaks. At the same time, though, she's making choices in the narrative that I found very interesting. For example, at first you think that you're reading a kind of pseudo-diary of Ha's life since her first two entries comes with dates (February 11th and 12th, respectively). Yet when you hit the third piece, it describes the ways in which Ha's brothers tease her ending, not with a specific date, but with the phrase, "Every day". In this way Lai is able to separate out the things that happen only once on a specific day and those things that occur frequently. It's a subtle technique, but it makes the author's point. Lai also makes small notes about the world that give a person pause. Since this is the story of a girl moving to Alabama in the early 70s, it will probably prompt a lot of discussion in bookgroups when she says of the cafeteria, "On one side of the bright, noisy room, light skin. Other side, dark skin. Both laughing, chewing, as if it never occurred to them someone medium would show up."Lai is also able to teach kids about Vietnamese society without coming off all school marmish. I knew about the holiday of Tet in a vague sense (mostly from Ten Mice for Tet), but what I didn't know was that not only is Tet a Vietnamese New Year's, it's also the day everyone celebrates their own birthdays.All told, Inside Out and Back Again has the brevity of a verse novel packed with a punch many times its size. It's one of the lovelier books I've read in a long time, and can make you think about and question the entire immigrant novel genre, so long a permanent part of the American children's literary canon. Lai drew upon much of her own life to write this book. Now I'd like to see what she's capable of when she looks at other subjects as well. Great new author. Great new book.For ages 9-12.

  • Rebecca
    2019-02-12 06:07

    Read this review and more on my blogIn a nutshell: A beautifully written story of immigration told through verse and the eyes of a young girl.After the Fall of Saigon at the end of the war in Vietnam, Hà and her family are forced to flee home. Inside Out & Back Again tells their story, inspired by the author's experiences, of leaving their home, spending many wary days at sea unsure of their future, and finally immigrating to Alabama. Through Hà's eyes, the reader experiences the difficulties of leaving a place so familiar to her and struggling to settle in America, where everything is so different - the food, people, language, her family, life. Inside Out & Back Again is written in free verse, making it a quick and engaging read. It's an effective style that immediately drew me in. While the writing was simple, it was beautiful. I finished the book in practically one sitting but despite being such a quick read, it's had a significant impact on me. I was so caught up in Hà's story and I've been inspired to do more research on the history and experiences detailed in the book. It's not really something I've read or know too much about. Many of us take for granted a lot of things and in hindsight, the hardships I faced when I moved from England to Australia are so weak in comparison. At least I didn't have to learn another language! As Hà often pointed out, English is weird. My only real problem with the book is that I wish that it was longer. I just felt like I needed just a bit more time with the characters or to just know what happened later. My imagination can do an okay job, but it needed something more in my opinion.Something I particularly liked was how it was fiction layered with fact. The fact that it was based partly on Thanhha Lai's own experiences made it more real, rather than a simple regurgitation of things anyone could read in a textbook. It was such a raw, realistic and beautiful story. I'd recommend it to everyone.Initial review:A beautifully written story of a girl and her family, who leave Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War and live in America. It's about their triumphs and struggles, and it's written in verse, which makes it a quick, simplistic yet lovely read. I just wish that it was longer.

  • Maha
    2019-02-12 09:24

    I always love a good verse novel, and this book was just that. A story about immigration and attempts to adapt to a new culture, Inside Out & Back Again was truly beautiful and heartwarming. It touched me emotionally on the struggles Hà had to deal with.Hà is different from everyone around her. She is a Vietnamese girl among Americans. She is the weird black-haired girl in her school. She is the girl everyone makes fun of. Despite all this, Hà tries to stay strong and continues working and hoping for life to get better. She works hard to learn English to overcome the differences and challenges, and I really admire her for that. Another reason I loved this book is that I was able to connect and relate to her struggles. Many people around the world also deal with the problem of being laughed at just because they are different from people around them, and I think this book has a really nice message for everyone to understand.I now understandwhen they make fun of my name,yelling ha-ha-ha down the hall when they ask if I eat dog meat,barking and chewing and falling down laughingwhen they wonder if I lived in the jungle with tigers,growling and stalking on all fours.I understandbecause Brother Khoinodded into my headon the bike ride homewhen I asked if kidssaid the same thingsat his school.~~“Oh, my daughter,at times you have to fight,but preferablynot with your fists.”

  • Kim
    2019-01-30 09:21

    A must read!

  • Wendy
    2019-02-11 05:15

    Hey, reviewers? A lot of you are using the word "prose" where you mean "poetry", and I can't take it.Also, there are actually lots and lots of kids' and YA books written in verse. Thanks.Anyway, actual review: I find it difficult to review this, just like I found it difficult to review the last novel-in-verse about a Vietnamese refugee in the 1970s that I read, All the Broken Pieces. Like anything negative I might say is me judging the immigrant experience itself.At first I didn't like this that much, but it's growing on me some after the fact. Ha reads like a more original character than many, and the thoroughly-sketched mother and sketchily-sketched brothers are all so clear to me in my mind. One heartbreaking sentence at the very end made me feel that Brother Khoi has his own fascinating book in a parallel universe.The sense of place is much greater for the scenes in and memories of Vietnam than they are for Alabama.Overall: good, but not great. I don't think it's a Newbery.

  • Romie
    2019-01-26 07:24

    It's a book I didn't know exist until a few days ago, and I'm truly glad it came into my life.This book deeply touched me because my dad's own family immigrated from Vietnam to France and the Vietnamese culture is one I grew up hearing about but never truly experienced it.This story follows Hà, her mother and three brothers, through their journey from a Vietnam at war to an American that doesn't necessarily welcome them with opened arms. It's a book about being stripped off your culture, your language, your country, your everything, and yet still trying to live a good life, a better life no matter the struggles and people's cruelty.It's a quick read, it won't take you a lot of time to get through, but I really think you'd gain something by reading it.From the author's note:“The emotional aspect is important because of something I noticed in my nieces and nephews. They may know in general where their parents came from, but they can't really imagine the noise and smells of Vietnam, the daily challenges of starting over in a strange land.”

  • Liz Janet
    2019-01-31 07:21

    Putting side that I was not the biggest fan of the writing, because I do not think that simply separating sentences with a lot of space is poetry, the story and her experiences made up for it. “Whoever invented Englishshould have learnedto spell.” It is not often that I see a book about immigration to which I can relate. I come from an European background and nationally, I am Caribbean, so I have the whole, not a native English speaker, but still get white privilege thing. This book took me back to what it is like completely learning a new language, and how some people will make you feel stupid, ignoring that perhaps you speak more languages than they do, for your inability to speak perfectly the first day you arrive at school. I was also on a boat, fleeing as well, unlike her I did not make it, however, her depictions of the experience were resonating with me throughout the story. What happened afterwards when she was here, was more boring, but relevant nonetheless. "... having learned from Mother that the pity giver feels better, never the pity receiver.”I agree. Pity is not the solution to systematic oppression and discrimination. I am however not sure how I feel about this quote:“People living on others' goodwill cannot afford political opinions.” It seems very accurate, but I want to look at it from a more historical perspective. I'll leave it for when I re-read the book.

  • Erica
    2019-02-01 08:12

    I don't recommend listening to this one. The narration is stiff and the Vietnamese words are spoken in italics (see Older's thoughts on italicizing a native language)I didn't read this one with my eyes because I have an aversion to novels in verse. While they can be more nuanced than the typical novel and though you have to work harder to get to the depths due to a scarcity of words, they seem choppy to me, jarring, and a little flighty. I'm not a fan of poetry, either, so the whole paint a big picture with the most minimal of brushes thing doesn't appeal.However, this semi-autobiographical story is both timely and not overtold. Ha, her brothers, and their mother all flee VietNam, traveling downstream on a Naval ship to sneak out of the country. They're eventually rescued at sea and wind up in Alabama where they're sponsored by The Cowboy and his sour wife.There are several topics in this short tale that are relevant to today, specifically refugees seeking safety in America, cultural integration, racism, and the goods and evils of Christianity. (view spoiler)[As in, a good Christian family sponsors a refugee family BUT! they also force-baptize the refugees, knowing full well that the family does not understand the meaning behind the ritual. (hide spoiler)] Unpacking these issues in the gentle way this story manages should engender some sympathy from young readers. In addition, there are the standard topics of starting a new school, bullies, community, and the value of well-meaning adults in a child's life making the story relatable to kids who are not Asian refugees in the 70's because some things just never change.

  • Tamanna
    2019-02-11 10:18

    If you love lyrical books you will love this book. I couldn't stop reading it.

  • Tania
    2019-02-04 05:16

    A short, but significant, story. This book is one of the reasons reading is so important. How else would we understand what it feels like to be a refugee? I firmly believe if more people read this or similar books, there would be fewer acts of xenophobia. I've never read a book written in free verse, but I absolutely loved it. I thought the fact that the author could get you to feel so much for the characters with so few words was amazing. Highly recommended. "Her brows twist so muchwe hush."Description: This is the moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next.

  • Kate S.
    2019-02-14 13:26

    I love this book!!! It is about a young Vietnamese girl and her family. It is a great story told in her perspective. It shows the struggles of being brought into a new land (America). She has to face lots of problems whether that be losing her papaya tree or facing the schools bully. I would totally recommend this book!!!!

  • Barbara
    2019-02-08 12:17

    This moving novel in verse chronicles a year in the life of a young girl who must leave behind all that is familiar for a world where everything is strange and new. It is 1975, and as the war draws closer to her Saigon, Vietnam home, Ha reflects on the whereabouts of her missing father and the family's difficult straits. When they have the chance to flee, the family boards a boat, eventually ending up in Alabama. The book illustrates perfectly many of the struggles immigrants face as they deal with a new culture, a new language, and misperceptions about their home countries. While the family is the recipient of many kindnesses, they are also harrassed a great deal as well, In the case of Ha, the bullying centers around her name and her appearance, which one schoolmate takes delight in using against her. There are several passages about Ha's English language acquisition and the confusing nature of English grammar that are layered with humor and worldliness amid the confusion of a child. Also just as memorable in their own way are the passages describing Ha's love for the delicious foods of Vietnam and her craving for snacks. Only someone with a stone in place of a heart could fail to care about Ha, her siblings, and her mother or be impressed by their determination not only to survive but to thrive in their new home. Pair this one with All the Broken Pieces.

  • Martha☀
    2019-02-02 05:27

    In this short, easy-to-read collection of poems, 10 year old Ha recounts one year of upheaval in her life as she is forced to leave Saigon upon the invasion of North Vietnam. She and her family escape on an over-crowded navy ship one day before the fall of Saigon and they take shelter at the US naval base on Guam. Eventually, her family of five arrive in the US as refugees and are taken in by a generous sponsor in Alabama where they finally settle, find jobs and go to school. The one-year transition is unbelievably difficult and painful for young Ha, as she experiences the true loss of her father, the American hatred of the Vietnamese, the violence and bullying from being different from others and the feeling of stupidity as she struggles to get a basic understanding of English. But she also learns to admire the strength and calm of her mother, develops friends and allies and is able to look past the torturous present towards a hopeful future.I was struck to the point of tears with Ha's acceptance of the changes, by the depth that hateful actions had on her and by the generosity of neighbours. This is a book that makes you reflect on your own charmed life and wonder if you have done enough for those who have had to give up everything in order to live one more day.

  • isabelle
    2019-01-28 07:22

    Review to come. (And the list grows larger)

  • Michelle
    2019-01-19 13:22

    I don't care how old you are, I don't care if you like poetry or not, you should still read this. I'm 45, I'm not into poetry, and I loved this. In spare but elegant verse, the story of one year in the life of a girl is told. A year where Saigon falls and her family becomes refugees fleeing to safety in the United States. A year of coming to terms with a new culture and language. A year of struggle as a forced immigrant. This is amazing both as a piece of literature and as a learning experience.

  • Ritika Gupta
    2019-02-17 09:13

    A young girl's heart touching story set in Saigon during Vietnam war and the family's subsequent immigration to America. Story written in free-verse style.

  • Liza Fireman
    2019-01-30 08:09

    Thanhha Lai writes about Ha, but mostly she writes about her own childhood. Being a child in Vietnam, and then needing to flee to a safe place. A strange place, where you look different, the customs are different, in addition to being poor, and not understand a single word. A new place, where the kids do not know what to make of this olive complexion, the black hair and the hair on the arms. She was coming from a place with papaya and nature to a new strange place, and it is not exactly fun most of the time. Ha's father is missing, and her mom and three brothers move to Alabama. They are all struggling, getting to know a new place, and new people.I read this book aloud to my daughter, the beginning is quite hard, and it is not easy (mostly for kids) to get into the book. But when Ha and her family are getting on the boat, there's a breakthrough. And you laughed many times, and ached many times. Overall, an adorable book. Ha got her share of insults, but succeed to overcome so much.About learning English: Brother Quang saysadd s to nounsto mean more then oneeven if there's already an ssitting there. Glass Glass-esAll dayI practise squeezing hisses through my teeth.Whoever inventedEnglishmust have loved snakes.About being poor and different:hating pity,having learned from Mother thatthe pity giverfeels better,never the receiver.Great book, learning about a different place and culture, and about the pain of integrating. The step by step of Ha, learning English and how to deal with the kids around is adorable. Maybe more than anything, insightful. Almost 4.5 stars.

  • Amelia
    2019-01-29 09:35

    So good!!!!!!!! Pretty sad, though.

  • Steph C
    2019-02-03 12:16

    I thought that this book was a really good book and I liked how it was her diary so you thought that she was writing in her diary while you where reading.I can relate to how the main character felt when everyone was being mean to her because she was the new kid, When I was the new kid, no one wanted to play with me until a couple days after the first day of school. I would like to read more books that this author has made, because she is a great author, and I love her style of writing.

  • Huy
    2019-02-10 12:26

    Một cuốn sách cảm động, chân thật và đẹp đẽ. Thanh Hà đã mang lại cho tôi rất nhiều cảm xúc và một góc nhìn khác về chiến tranh Việt Nam cũng như câu chuyện cũa những người xa xứ dưới góc nhìn của một cô bé 9 tuổi, tuyệt vời!

  • Kristina
    2019-02-04 11:05

    This is a great perspective to read about. And because some of what our main character goes through the author details from her own life, it makes it that much more meaningful. Although for younger readers, those who are learning about Vietnam in history classes could benefit from reading this as well.

  • David
    2019-01-19 11:26

    Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai I was in the US Navy in 1975, headed toward the Philippines when our squadron personnel were off-loaded in Hawaii so that our carrier could rush to the coast of Vietnam to pick up refugees fleeing South Vietnam before it fell to Communist forces. So this story has particular personal meaning.Like most Americans, I owe the life I live to the courage and hope of immigrant ancestors. The powerfulness of this story rings true. The US is a nation of immigrants. The way we treat immigrants speaks volumes about our values and honor. I hope this book makes readers think about how immigrants, other human beings, not so different from ourselves, are treated.Consider this passage, as the family tries to flee Saigon:"We climb on and claim a space of two straw mats under the deck, enough for us five to lie side by side. By sunset our space is one straw mat, enough for us five to huddle together. Bodies cram every centimeter below deck, then every centimeter on deck. Everyone knows the ship could sink, unable to hold the piles of bodies that keep crawling on like raging ants from a disrupted nest. But no one is heartless enough to say stop because what if they had been stopped before their turn?"Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai is an amazing first novel based on the author's escape from Vietnam in 1975. The book has four sections: Saigon, At Sea, Alabama, and From Now On. Written in narrative verse, it is a length that should not frighten middle grade readers, yet is full of meaning, information and insights. Choosing the narrative verse form makes sense as the best way to tell the story of a 10 year old immigrant not fluent in English as the story begins, resulting in interesting phrases and thoughts. Narrative verse is not my favorite format but this really worked for me. In the course of the novel Lai is able to teach kids about Vietnamese society. Having just read Ten Mice for Tet I knew a bit about the holiday, but I learn even more from Hà, including the reasons for certain customs. The voice of the narrator ten-year-old Hà is strong and works well because of her anger at the situation faced by her and her family. They leave not knowing if their father is dead or alive. They are poor, must rely on strangers, don't speak English, and are feared, teased and disliked by some. Personally, Hà is furious at being harrassed by classmates, being considered stupid since she can't speak English, and having few friends. Thanhha Lai does a wonderful job of writing from the point of view of a ten year old immigrant, focused on her thoughts, fears and wishes.I wish the cover was more realistic looking and less "girly", and that there were more resources listed in the back concerning the history of Vietnam and the Vietnam War. This book is highly recommended for school and public library collections.I was fortunate enough to get a copy at BEA and get it signed by the author.For ages 9 to 13, Vietnam War, Vietnam, immigration, race, religion, intolerance, emmigration, refugees, bullying, historical fiction, and fans of Thanhha Lai.

  • Jessaka
    2019-01-22 12:24

    "No one would believe mebut at times/I would choosewartime in Saigonoverpeacetime in Alabama."This prize winning book is powerful and sad. A young girl named Kim Ha has to leave Vietnam during the war and ends up in the southern State of Alabama.To begin with, Kim Ha's father has been MIA for 10 years, and after they leave for America they wonder how he can find them if he comes home. So already Kim Ha has sadness in her heart. There is so much more that she has to leave in Vietnam, mainly her people and her country. Most children only have to move to another town, which is hard enough on them.The style of writing is beautiful; it is different--free verse poetry, which is the only way I know how to write poetry--no rules, no regular meters, no rhymes. It works very well in this book and somehow makes it much more powerful.When she begins school in America, some children tease her, as if her life wasn't hard enough. The word "teasing" is such a light word to use for how she is treated, perhaps I should say, "hateful bullying." Some children will always tease anyone that they believe is fair game; some adults do the same. I don't understand why the schools have not be able to stop this from happening, but the teachers can't be everywhere at once, so I suppose that is the reason. Anyway, it is a quick read and well worth it.

  • Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
    2019-01-25 11:35

    It’s the end of the long Vietnam War and Ha and her family live in Vietnam. It’s a beautiful place, despite the war going on all around them, with delicious food and lush gardens. Ha does brilliant work in school and she has a wonderful, close-knit family. It’s a small Eden in the midst of the terrible war.Then the family cannot put things off any longer; the country they love is collapsing and they must leave Vietnam. The family escapes on a packed boat and is taken in by a cowboy in the American South and life becomes truly surreal for Ha. A wonderful book that is deeply sad and wildly hopeful.