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Thanhha Lai

Author of Inside Out and Back Again

5+ Works 5,425 Members 585 Reviews

About the Author

Thanhha Lai was born in 1965 in Vietnam. She is an American writer of children's literature. At the Fall of Saigon April 30, 1975, her soldier father was missing in action. Mother and children fled to the United States and moved to Montgomery,Alabama, because one man there was willing to sponsor show more all ten of them. Before high school, the family had moved to Fort Worth, Texas. Lai graduated from University of Texas, Austin with a degree in journalism and from 1988 worked about two years for the Orange County, California newspaper The Register, covering Little Saigon, the local Vietnamese community. She earned a Master of Fine Arts from New York University and settled in New York City, where she teaches at Parsons The New School for Design. In 2011, she won the National Book Award for Young People's Literature and a Newbery Honor for her debut novel, Inside Out & Back Again, published by HarperCollins. It is a verse novel based on her first year in the United States, a ten-year-old child who spoke no English when she arrived. In 2013 this novel made The New York Times best seller list. 030 (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Works by Thanhha Lai

Inside Out and Back Again (2011) 4,631 copies
Listen, Slowly (2015) 517 copies
Butterfly Yellow (2019) 207 copies
Hundred Years of Happiness (2022) 36 copies
When Clouds Touch Us (2023) 34 copies

Associated Works


Alabama (139) America (41) Asia (32) Asian American (42) bullying (126) change (40) chapter book (98) children's (37) coming of age (30) culture (95) diversity (46) family (333) fiction (198) friendship (29) historical fiction (331) history (77) immigrants (143) immigration (353) middle grade (56) moving (49) multicultural (96) National Book Award (47) Newbery (34) Newbery Honor (105) novel (127) novel in verse (90) novels in verse (38) poetry (346) realistic fiction (101) refugee (131) refugees (159) Saigon (42) to-read (216) verse (53) Vietnam (499) Vietnam War (271) Vietnamese (76) war (215) YA (52) young adult (36)

Common Knowledge



Independent reading level: 3+
Awards: Newbery Honor Book, National Book Award
Jennihernandez | 538 other reviews | Dec 5, 2023 |
Representation: Asian main character
Trigger warnings: Racism

6/10, this was my first historical book (1915 doesn't count since it's a war book) made by a Vietnamese-American author to boot, Thanhhà Lại, so I had high expectations for this and I was honestly quite surprised that I didn't enjoy this due to some issues I've found but I read her other book Inside Out and Back Again since then and would like to read the sequel, where do I begin. It starts off with the main character Hằng leaving Vietnam after the war ended and she arrived in Texas, US ready to start off her new life and that storyline is familiar so I read on to see where it was going. I found her character to be interesting since she speaks English with a Vietnamese accent as can be seen with her dialogue with other characters, speaking of soon she meets a new character called LeeRoy and at first their character dynamic is not the best however they get along towards the end. The plot is kind of slow with nothing much happening in it except those events but there are a few good moments interspersed. Throughout the book Hằng acclimatises to her new life but sometimes I see flashbacks of her back in Vietnam during the war which I liked and the end, let's just say it finishes on a high note.… (more)
Law_Books600 | 7 other reviews | Nov 3, 2023 |
Representation: Asian main character
Trigger warnings: Racism, bullying, death of a father, Vietnam War, displacement, refugee experiences, military violence and war themes

8/10, I was hoping that this would be a good read since it's poetry and written by a Vietnamese-American author to boot so imagine my surprise that this was such an amazing novel, better than the last verse novel I read. The novel's premise was very interesting and realistic, and I could really connect to the main character, Hà. She immigrated from Vietnam to Alabama to escape the Vietnam War, and now she has to adjust to her new life, but it was a struggle to do so, with all the racism, being an outcast, and learning a new language, English. The other characters in Hà's family were enjoyable to read as well, especially the brothers, and I liked seeing the final moments in Vietnam and all the Vietnamese traditions. If you like a novel about immigration and a verse novel, this is the book for you and I can't wait to read the sequel to this novel which has only been just released and my library got that already, so yeah there's that.… (more)
Law_Books600 | 538 other reviews | Nov 3, 2023 |
Representation: Asian main character, side Latina character
Trigger warnings: Animal death, physical injury, abuse, bruises

7/10, I only just heard of this book not so long ago and I was excited to read this and even though I enjoyed this I just wanted a little more from it and this definitely was kind of a step down from Inside Out and Back Again made by the same author; this was a nice read nonetheless, where do I even begin. It starts off again with the main character Hà who is now twelve since this was set only two years after she fled Vietnam during the Vietnam War and now she and her family are living in Alabama. This is all going to change however as Hà's mother discovered that Texas would leave them better off so they packed their bags and moved there much to her dismay. I feel like after this major event the author just doesn't know what to do after this so the story turned into a long drawn out account of the main character's new life in Texas which stretched across most of the book. Hà soon adjusts to living in this new place and makes a new friend in the process called Diggy though I was kind of sad that I wouldn't be seeing Pam again, then again I could only connect to Hà and not the rest of the characters so there's that. I still liked the writing style though, only few books I know have done this and on a positive note the author pulled that off successfully.… (more)
Law_Books600 | 3 other reviews | Nov 3, 2023 |



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