Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

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

by Thanhha Lai

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,0571197,948 (4.28)58
Title:Inside Out and Back Again
Authors:Thanhha Lai
Collections:Your library
Tags:Newberry Award, young girl, Vietnam, bully

Work details

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (2011)

Recently added bymabith, LILY815, kkramer12, private library, mshampson, KimMiller, GinaBayne, lmckenna, LisaSeddon

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 58 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
This is a very thoughtful book from a child refugee's perspective on her escape from Vietnam and her voyage to America. The book is written in verse which uses more personalized, informal language. The book is well-organized through the breaking down of the story into four sections based on where the young girl and her family is located. For example, the four sections used are Saigon, At Sea, Alabama, and From Now On. Another way the book is well-organized is through the individually titled verses and dates. It allows the reader to imagine the time span of everything happening, how often she is writing, and the chronological order of specific events. There are powerful pieces which are easy to pinpoint due to the organization of the novel. For example, "Current News" ends with the teacher ending discussion about any negative news so people could only talk about positive news. The poem ends with "No one had anything to say".

The big message of the story is to keep pushing forward no matter what happens and family lives in the heart. I love how empowering this book is and how strong the main character Ha is. I enjoyed the way the book was organized into sections, individually titled poems, and chronological dates. ( )
  GinaBayne | Oct 21, 2014 |
This book was a puzzle to me. On one hand I enjoyed it because the writing gave me a different perspective into the life of an immigrant child. This was definitely a window book and I enjoyed looking through that window. I left me feeling much more compassionate and understanding towards immigrants. Ha’s story changed my way of thinking which is difficult for a story to do. Reading about everything Ha went through from fleeing Vietnam, to how her teacher treated her like she wasn’t smart, to the Pink Boy bullying her changed my perspective. On the other hand I found all the poems confusing. It wasn’t written like a regular chapter book; instead each event in her life was a poem. I was more interested in the story of Ha then the poetry the story was written in. In a way it the way it was written was distracting because it was unfamiliar and lacked the details most chapter books have leaving me wanting to know more, not in a good way. I believe the big idea was compassion and understanding. Ha changes a lot in a single year but I think this is more of an enjoyment book that leaves the reader with new insight. ( )
  torilynae | Oct 17, 2014 |
Never have I been so fascinated with a poetry book before. I really enjoyed reading this narrative, although I found that I did find some characteristics that I did not like.
Obviously, one of the things that I enjoyed the most about this book was its writing style. Being a narrative poetry book, I loved the way that the author was able to tell a complete story using poetry. Many poetry books that I have come across focused on multiple smaller poems which had no connections to each other. Although this poem did include multiple small poems, the author was still able to create a lengthy story. The author used great detail in creating an image for the reader. On page 128, the poem is entitled "Third Rule". The author writes about learning the English language. She writes "Do not add an s to certain nouns. One deer, two deer. Why no s for two deer, but an s for two monkeys? Brother Quang says no one knows". I feel that although very little was said, the author is still able to portray the image of a very frustrated student attempting to learn the English language.
Being a narrative, the point of view never changed throughout the story. I actually feel that if some of the poems would have been in the perspective of some of the other characters, such as the mother or brother, than it would have created an increased sense of the struggles that the entire family was facing. On page 187, the poem is entitled "Smart Again". The poem tells about the time where Pink Boy was attempting to answer a math equation and Ha went to the board, completing the problem for him. He was quite embarrassed and Ha felt really smart, although she "saw the look of horror on the faces of Pem and Steven". This poem could have been written in the perspective of one of those other three characters. I also feel that if this was done, these other characters could have been more developed. However, if this was done, it could have taken away from the importance of the main character. So I understand why the author decided to keep it in her own perspective throughout the novel.
The main idea of this novel was to take the reader on a voyage, following the narrative tales of Kim Ha. I feel the overall purpose was to allow readers to see the trials and tribulations that immigrants faced during war time. This novel was written about the authors childhood during the Vietnam War. Ha was very accepting of her fate and made the best of every situation that she was in. Maybe that is the overall purpose behind the story? That accepting things the way they are does not mean you have given up, but that you have learned to live with the things you can't change. I like that purpose, so let's stick with that! ( )
  Andrewturner | Oct 16, 2014 |
The book, “Inside Out and Back Again”, was a very informational book written in a different style. The first aspect I liked about this book was that it is written in free verse in first person point of view. I have never read a story in free verse and I was very interested when we were assigned this book to read. Each poem flowed and created imagery to help the reader connect to the story. I found this to be very helpful while reading. The plot was organized very well through many small poems. I found this book to be informational because it explained many different aspects of culture and customs of Vietnam that I was unaware of. For example, “Everyone must smile no matter how we feel. No one can sweep, for why sweep away hope? No one can splash water, for why splash away joy?” refers to a New Year tradition that takes place in Saigon. The previous quote was just one example of many examples in the book relating to life in Vietnam and traditions families partake in. The main idea of this chapter book was to portray hardships that immigrants face when moving to a new country and that one must be hopeful. ( )
  vharsh1 | Oct 15, 2014 |
I enjoyed the book, Inside Out and Back Again, by Thanhha Lai. The big idea in this book was the diary-like story of a young girl from Saigon. The Vietnam War is going on and she is forced to flee her country and winds up being sponsored in the United States by a cowboy in Alabama. I liked the writing in this book. It was short free-verse poetry. The main character, Ha, narrates her story in a way that is short and complete. The reader gets a true sense of what Ha is feeling on her journey through childhood and across the sea. I also liked the hero in the story, the cowboy. He sponsors Ha’s family and gives them food and shelter as well as advice on how to fit in, in Alabama. The cowboy’s wife is not mentioned much, but we read that she is not too much in favor of the family living in their town and being sponsored by the cowboy. Ha deals with extreme bullying at her new school. She is called names, like “pancake face” by the boy that called “pink boy,” due to his skin color. The cowboy and his friend, Miss Washington, as well as Ha’s older brother, help Ha deal with the daily pressures of fitting in, especially as an immigrant. ( )
  JenniferEckley | Oct 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 119 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
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.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Haiku summary

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:28 -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

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
97 wanted2 pay1 pay

Popular covers


Average: (4.28)
1 1
1.5 1
2 1
2.5 2
3 30
3.5 14
4 96
4.5 27
5 113

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 93,420,543 books! | Top bar: Always visible