Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
I’ve had great luck reading novels written in verse, so much so that I keep thinking surely the streak can’t continue – one of these days I’ll hit a dud. So far though, the streak is intact, as Inside Out and Back Again was fantastic.
While the content of Lai’s novel could make it a difficult read, it’s so beautifully written it ends up being a pleasure. I still might hesitate to hand it over to younger readers depending on their sensitivity, but it’d be an easy one to pre-read if you’ve got any concerns about your children reading it. However, don’t avoid this thinking it’s just for children – it’s not at all – it’s a great book.
My only complaints with it are simply because of the target audience, there ends up being not as much depth to her story as I’d like. Overall though it’s one that I enthusiastically recommend. It’s easy to see why it’s a Newbery Honor book.
The author has a second book out this year, Listen, Slowly, and after reading this one I requested the new one. Listen, Slowly is written in prose, so if you’re not interested in Inside Out and Back Again due to being written in verse, the new one may work for you. I’m eagerly anticipating it.
Don’t skip the information in the back – it adds some of that extra depth I was wanting, and was very interesting!
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.
Title: Inside Out and Back Again
Author: Thanhha Lai
Category: Juvenile Fiction
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
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