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Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Inside Out and Back Again (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Thanhha Lai

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1,7543294,023 (4.3)77
Title:Inside Out and Back Again
Authors:Thanhha Lai
Info:HarperCollins (2011), Hardcover, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Newberry Award, young girl, Vietnam, bully

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Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (2011)

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Showing 1-5 of 328 (next | show all)
I enjoyed reading this book because it provided me with insight into life during the Vietnam War. The main character, Hà, speaks with honesty, humor and hope. Throughout her journey, she attempts to comprehend Alabama's foreign culture while still keeping in touch with her own. Whether she was struggling to learn the language, combating schoolyard bullies, or keeping the memory of her father alive, Hà always kept her head held high and a smile on her face.
I enjoyed the style that this story was written in. The titles of each new “chapter”, or poem, were lighthearted and innocent. It was a subtle reminder that even though Hà possessed many adult-like qualities, such as her resilience and determination, she was still a young child experiencing a brand new world for the first time.
I loved how honest Hà’s story was. This book is nonfiction and the events depicted in the story were 100% real. Her reactions to such events made her to be an incredibly believable character with a lot of depth. The author, Thanhha Lai, stated that she based the character Hà off of herself. The experiences her and her family faced during the war were accurately depicted in this story, which made the book feel even more authentic.
I think this book would be well-received by late Elementary School/ early Middle School students. Even though not many American students can fully understand what it must have been like for Hà when she fled Vietnam to escape the war, I believe that they can find comfort in knowing that all kids their age experiencing feelings of displacement and confusion. Overall, this story was a great read and I’m glad I had the opportunity to enter Hà’s world and see things through her eyes. ( )
  dluna1 | Feb 9, 2017 |
The book was a very good read and explained the intense journey of a little girl and her family moving from Vietnam to America. It revealed messages of privilege and assimilation in the perspective of a twelve-year-old girl. The symbolism of the color yellow was also prominent throughout the text and the structure of the book was meaningful. The theme of the privileged and oppressed is exemplified by the mother when Ha writes, “…having learned from Mother that the pity giver feels better, never the pity receiver. This reveals what some of the oppressed, such as people living in poverty, feel when the privileged, the Americans, offer temporary help that seems as if it is the “White Man’s Burden” to help the underprivileged. Furthermore, when the family had to change their faith and attend church to fit in with the neighbors is also an example of assimilation and privilege. The color yellow is used when describing the ripening papaya and the fuzzy man’s golden hair. Both times were describing happiness and hope. Ha also longs to go back to her papaya tree while she was in America. Furthermore, Racism is heavily seen when Ha attends her school. The students make fun of her face by calling her “pancake” and physically bully her because of her differences. This changes when she meets Mrs. Washington who gives her dried papaya for Christmas. This symbol of hope comes back and Ha slowly accepts her environment and hope, which seemed to be lost with all the assimilation and racism, comes back near the end of the story. The structure of the book was very interesting and helped make the title of the book clear and meaningful by the return of Tet. Indeed, Ha and her family’s lives were twisted inside and out but they are back again living in their new place called home. ( )
  sryoo1 | Feb 9, 2017 |
In my opinion this is a wonderful book. The book is set in 1974 while the Vietnam War occurred. It is an interesting read because it is based on real life situations. Since we still haven’t accomplished world peace, it is interesting to hear about other points of view from different cultures.
I like how the book was set up in a poem form rather than the regular narrative. It felt like I was reading out of a diary as the author had titles and dates for each entry. I would say that this book pushes its readers to think about war or individuals in other countries who must endure violence and mayhem throughout their daily lives. I can’t imagine being crammed on a ship, only allowed one cup of water and one cup of rice a day. I also enjoyed how different the characters were and how they were developed. For example, Ha describes her brothers as having different interests. Brother Vu is interested in cooking and Brother Quang is interested in engineering which in the end of the novel, they put these skills to good use. It is also interesting to read how Ha enters the American culture and her thoughts behind it. I laughed at the part of the book where Ha tries fried chicken for the first time and is disgusted with it.
The big idea or message of the story for the author to give insight to readers about what types of experiences she went through, being a Vietnam refuge during the Vietnam War. ( )
  aphelp6 | Feb 8, 2017 |
This was on of the best children's books that I have ever read! I loved the author's voice and the prose style of writing. This is a great book that involves history, diversity education and life lessons! ( )
  jenmbello | Jan 30, 2017 |
This novel is written in verse which makes it very easy to read. It was a great perspective into the life of someone who was forced to leave everything behind in search of a safe life. ( )
  Annabelleurb | Dec 13, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 328 (next | show all)
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To the millions of refugees in the world, may you each find a home
First words
1975: Year of the Cat / Today is Tet, / the first day / of the lunar calendar. / Every Tet / we eat sugary lotus seeds / and glutinous rice cakes. / We wear all new clothes, / even underneath.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061962783, Hardcover)

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 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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:04 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 2 descriptions

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