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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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1,0501188,021 (4.27)57
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 118 (next | show all)
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 chapter book "The Circuit" was an interesting read. The first aspect of why I enjoyed this book was the language choice. This book intertwined Spanish words along with English words. This could be helpful to students who could be English language learners who come from a Spanish speaking family. Having Spanish in the chapter book could provide comfort to the reader and encourage them to participate more in classroom discussion. The Spanish vocabulary could also be helpful to readers who do not speak Spanish in the way that they could learn words while they were reading. The second aspect of why I enjoyed this book was that it was written in the first person point of view. The story was told through the eyes of the main character, Francisco. This book was based on real life events and experiences from the author’s point of view. This book pushes readers to apply this knowledge to real life situations and what other families could have experienced. The main idea of this book is to share migrant experiences to inform readers about hardships that people face. ( )
  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 |
Inside Out and Back Again
I really enjoyed “Inside Out and Back Again” by Thanhha Lai. The book was cleverly written in the first person point of view by Ha, a young girl who fled from Vietnam and tells the entire story through poetry. The writing is engaging and flows well with very descriptive language. For example, “Our cowboy, who never takes off his tall, tall hat, delivers us to this huge house, where grass spreads out so green it looks painted” (p. 115). Although there are no illustrations in this book, it is easy for the reader to paint their own pictures in their mind. The plot is well organized from the beginning of Ha’s journey to the end. The first chapter allows the reader to learn some culture with the “Year of the Cat”. The reader may wonder if Ha believes some of their misfortune comes from her touching the floor before her brother does. She explains “Mother warns how we act today foretells the whole year” she continues that her brother must be the one to touch the ground first to bring luck; however, Ha “decided to wake before dawn and tape my big toe to the tile floor first” (p.1-2). This book pushes readers to think about tough issues such as Ha’s, moving to a new country and not understanding the language. For example, “I’m furious, unable to explain I already learned fractions and how to purify river water. So this is what dumb feels like” (p. 156-157). The big idea of this book is to tell the story of Ha and her immigration to America. ( )
  areyno5 | Oct 12, 2014 |
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Original title
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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.
Last words
Disambiguation notice
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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

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