Monday, April 23, 2012

Inside Out & Back Again, Thanhha Lai

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.

Mother warns 
how we act today
foretells the whole year.

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?

Ten year old Ha has only known Saigon for her whole life, but when the Vietnam War reaches her home, Ha and her family must flee to America. In Alabam, Ha discovers cold strangers, dull food, strange landscape, but also the strength of her own family as they stay together. This novel is written in verse, and I think that was the right choice. Some of the poems are really observant, and sad. Ha was a smart student back in Vietnam, but in the US she's made to feel stupid because of her limited English, and bullied by the other kids. Also, as a foreigner, she notices the strangeness of English and its many rules. Also, her father disappeared back in Vietnam, and they wait for news of him throughout the book. Inside Out & Back Again is compelling novel with a great narrator. 

Read Inside Out & Back Again:
  • if you are interested in Vietnam
  • if you are interested in verse novels
  • if you are interested in historical novels
  • if you like heroines with heart
  • if you are looking for family books
  • if you are looking for books about bullying in a school setting
260 pages. 

Very Good! I would recommend this book!

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