Inside Out & Back Again

Inside Out & Back Again

Book - 2011
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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.
Publisher: New York : Harper, c2011
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780061962783
0061962783
Branch Call Number: Fiction Lai CHILD
Characteristics: 262 p. ; 22 cm
Alternative Title: Inside out and back again

Opinion

From Library Staff

Challenge: Read a book by an author from Southeast Asia. Result: Free-verse written story of the author's flee from Vietnam to live in the states. A Newberry winner.

Age 9 & up. 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. Newbery Honor book, National Book Award.


From the critics


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a
aishaesa
Jan 03, 2021

Amazing book, that really gives you a feeling of Ha's life, a new perspective that you can't find anywhere else. Completely recommend, it is a wonderful read!

n
naihco3
Sep 30, 2020

First off I would like to say that some parts of this book is in Vietnamese. The concept covered in this book is immgration or the feeling of willingness. In this book it starts off with a young girl and her family who moves to America due to the danger of the Vietnam war. Her and her family travel to America for hope for a better life. Here the protagonist Hà starts going to a new high school and tries to fit in. Although, she never fits in and gets teased due to her being an immigrant. Slowly she tries to adapt to this strange environment with different people, food, and customs. Later on she is accustomed to her school and Alabama which helps her develop dreams/hopes. I really recommend this book if you don't like reading long paragraphs in books. The structure in this book is more organized like a poem every page. It really goes into depth the struggles of Hà in this place.

b
barzaaah
Jul 28, 2020

Written in an untraditional structure, “Inside Out and Back Again” by Thanhha Lai is a gripping story about a young girl and her family who were forced to flee their home, Saigon, and journey to America. From her love of papaya trees and the occasion of Tết to her mother’s lavender scent, Hà, a young girl, clings to her memories of Saigon and finds it difficult to adjust to the queer world of Alabama. The story’s structure is based on a series of free-verse poems written in the form of diary entries from Hà’s perspective. One aspect of the book that I love is the simplistic nature of its poems which are spoken by an authentic, innocent voice that allows the reader to empathize with Hà, thus creating an emotionally touching story.

Ten year-old Hà has lived in Saigon all her life and has grown to admire her culture and the spectrum of life and color that surrounds her. Unfortunately, the Vietnam War has reached Hà’s home, and she and her family are suddenly forced to abandon their culture and people and board a ship headed to a new, foreign country. The journey to America is harsh and tiresome, but nevertheless, Hà and her family make it to the borders of the new country. In Alabama, life is so different, so devoid of the vitality and energy that would fill the streets of Saigon. Adapting to this new lifestyle is more difficult than ever, and as everyday passes, Hà continues to learn more about the peculiarities of Alabama, its people, culture, and language. At one point in the novel, she states “No one would ever believe me, but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama.” However, the perseverance and strength of Hà and her family are the forces that enable them to push through these obstacles. All in all, this compelling novel provides a unique, innocent, and poignant perspective on the emotional impact immigration has on families.

m
melodia1988
Jul 15, 2020

What a beautiful book. I felt like I was truly getting a window into Ha's soul and experience through the free-verse poetry.

e
edwinomesh
Jun 20, 2020

This is a great story that is crafted as a poem. Written by a refugee from Vietnam itself, it brings out the true light of the Vietnam War and gives detail on how life was for someone from that time period. It also highlights the racism that the main character feels as she comes to America, realizing that the Americans, who helped them escape were no worse. This book is written as a poem, making it more interesting to read. The vibe of the poem and the context of the book make it great.

LibraryWAS Apr 28, 2020

Beautiful story written in verse. Based on true events after the fall of Saigon, the narrator and her family leave Vietnam and head to the US. Having been to Vietnam, this story does an excellent job capturing the feeling of the country and shares it with the reader. My heart hurts for what the author has been through. She so vividly shares her story, both the good and the bad. I highly recommend this book. You do not need to like poetry to enjoy the format of the text. I think the format of the verse is what best lets the reader share the emotions and heartbreak of the narrator.

JCLColleenO Apr 21, 2020

Beautiful story about a girl in Vietnam in 1975 after she & her family escape the war to America. Told in poems, this is a quick read, and full of emotion.

multcolib_susannel Apr 18, 2020

For Ha', Saigon has always been her home, but now the Vietnam War has come to her home and she and her family must find a new home- in America.

k
kibister
May 10, 2019

Beautifully written free verse poem that tells the story of a Vietnamese family fleeing to America amidst the fall of Saigon. Really poignant to read now given the current political climate. The confusion, panic, and uncertainty that comes from being forced from your land, being tightly packed on a ship, with little food, all being told from a 10 year old’s perspective is touching and hard to read at times.

k
Kola27
Feb 06, 2019

it such a great book it like an adventure book but 10 TIMES BETTER i can wait to read the second book!:)

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Age

Add Age Suitability
a
aishaesa
Jan 03, 2021

aishaesa thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

d
dianebari
Apr 08, 2019

dianebari thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 8 and 99

j
JakeFuture905
Jul 14, 2018

JakeFuture905 thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

v
vv19
Apr 14, 2018

vv19 thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

t
thevales
Apr 14, 2018

thevales thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

k
kinglee273
Sep 13, 2017

kinglee273 thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

g
green_llama_123
Jul 04, 2015

green_llama_123 thinks this title is suitable for 8 years and over

blue_baboon_1365 Feb 05, 2015

blue_baboon_1365 thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

i
indigo_zebra_104
Jul 12, 2014

indigo_zebra_104 thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

Red_Cobra_111 May 19, 2014

Red_Cobra_111 thinks this title is suitable for 6 years and over

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Quotes

Add a Quote
a
aishaesa
Jan 03, 2021

"I thought so,
despite her own rule
Mother can't help
yearning for father
any more than I can help,
tasting ripe papaya
in my sleep.

m
melodia1988
Jul 15, 2020

"I will write in my journal
October 14 is
Most Relieved Day,
as I have noted
April 30 was
Saigon is Gone Day
and September 2 was
Longest Day Ever.
Though I was saving
Most Relieved Day
for Father's return,
he can have the title:
My Life's Best Day."

m
melodia1988
Jul 15, 2020

"I extend this idea to all: How much do we know about those around us? I hope you enjoy reading about Ha as much as I have enjoyed remembering the pivotal year of my life. I also hope after you finish this book that you sit close to someone you love and implore that person to tell and tell and tell their story."

j
JakeFuture905
Jul 14, 2018

"This year I hope I truly learn to fly-kick, not to kick anyone so much as to fly."

JCLEmilyD Feb 25, 2017

Oh, my daughter,
at times you have to fight,
but preferably not with your fists.

b
BradyRhys
Mar 26, 2013

I could not find a quote in the book that supported the books idea very well.

n
Nancy J Mata
Feb 24, 2013

"This year I Hope"
"No more Migration
No more letters
No more family"

c
CourtneyHendon
Jan 19, 2013

"Oh, my daughter, at times you have to fight, but preferably not with your fists."

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD Aug 25, 2012

“No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama.”

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD Aug 25, 2012

“On one side of the bright, noisy room, light skin. Other side, dark skin. Both laughing, chewing, as if it never occurred to them someone medium would show up.”

Summary

Add a Summary
j
JakeFuture905
Jul 14, 2018

Inside Out and Back Again, Thanhha Lai’s first book, is a book about a 10-year-old girl, Kim Ha, escaping the Vietnam War in 1975. Ultimately, Ha reaches a town in Alabama, where she begins her new life. It describes hope in a bottomless pit of despair and war.

The style of the book makes it a more emotional story. The book is written from a first-person angle. This makes the story line more personal and somewhat more relatable to an individual. A nostalgic feeling persists through most of the book. A yearning for home is proven with Ha stating that she would choose war in Saigon over peace in Alabama. The formatting of the book – verse – makes it a relatively quick read. In other words, you can have a better story in less time. Styling is usually the key to perfection – something this book does seemingly effortlessly.

The pages of this book are filled with literary devices. Imagery is relied on heavily by Thanhha. This is evident from when the author describes pieces of chicken with golden crusts that smell perfect. Onomatopoeia is also used. Sounding happens mainly on pages 173 and 185, and there are the S’s in Mrs. Washington’s name emphasized as MiSSSisss WaSShington. Metaphors and similes are also plentiful in this book. Examples of the metaphors and similes include: “smelling like the sun”, “explode like thunder”, “gaunt like bark”, and “crinkles like paper on fire”. These devices make the story much more descriptive and interesting.

The content is deep and requires some thinking while being read. The ideas are easy to understand but difficult to imagine. A new doorway is opened – into the life of a refugee, a life most of us have never known, never experienced. This book provides a bridge into the real world, with realistic tensions between governments. The descriptions in the book expand and enhance the concepts to emphasize differences between life in Vietnam and life in America. Ha’s words revolve mainly around descriptions of snacks like papayas, coconuts, corn, pineapples, fried dough, and many other dishes of Vietnamese cuisine. With this book, a gateway is unlocked with the key of knowledge and experience.

Overall, Inside Out and Back Again is a great read for anyone who can understand the subject matter. Thanhha Lai has managed to amass her experiences, as poems, into an amazing book.

v
vv19
Apr 14, 2018

This book was a great read-out-loud book for my kids. It is written in verse and each poem had a different feel to it. All the poems came together to make a beautiful story about a young girl striving to find a place in a new land after war displaces her family. It makes you laugh and cry. A great story to build an understanding of other cultures.

olive_bird_01 Jun 13, 2015

Inside Out and Back Again is the story of Ha and her family being forced to move to the United States because the Vietnam War had reached their home, and it was no longer safe. They board a navy ship and flee.Upon spending a couple months at a refugee camp, they end up moving to Alabama. There she struggles with learning English and bullies, including Pink Boy, at her new school. Hà has once said, "No one would believe me but at times know I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama."[4] Eventually, she has pushed through those hard times with the help of their next door neighbor—Miss Washington—and the support of her family. In the beginning of the book, it mentions that Hà's father-a soldier in the Vietnam war-left when she was only a year old. In the end, Hà's family figures out that fortunately, the father isn't dead and is living in New York City. Hà then gets used to living in the U.S and her family celebrates the new year. She prays for good things to happen to her and her family.

olive_bird_01 Jun 13, 2015

Inside Out and Back Again is the story of Ha and her family being forced to move to the United States because the Vietnam War had reached their home, and it was no longer safe. They board a navy ship and flee.Upon spending a couple months at a refugee camp, they end up moving to Alabama. There she struggles with learning English and bullies, including Pink Boy, at her new school. Hà has once said, "No one would believe me but at times know I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama."[4] Eventually, she has pushed through those hard times with the help of their next door neighbor—Miss Washington—and the support of her family. In the beginning of the book, it mentions that Hà's father-a soldier in the Vietnam war-left when she was only a year old. In the end, Hà's family figures out that fortunately, the father isn't dead and is living in New York City. Hà then gets used to living in the U.S and her family celebrates the new year. She prays for good things to happen to her and her family.

b
BradyRhys
Mar 26, 2013

This is the story of a young girl named Ha who is forced to move with her family to America because of the Vietnam War that has reached her homeland. They start a new life in Alabama that Ha finds challenging because she does not fit in with the culture around her. Eventually, with the help of her teacher, Ha finds herself and begins to enjoy her new life in Alabama.

c
CourtneyHendon
Jan 19, 2013

This story is about Ha` and her family being forced from her home in Vietnam to move to the United States because of a war. Ha` and her family moved to Alabama to start over. Although, Ha` and her three brothers were bullied and taunted by the children at school and their neighbors, they found hope in each other and one of their neighbors Miss Washington.

ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD Aug 25, 2012

“No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama.” Ha has known both in her life, actually. Born in Vietnam during the war, Ha lives with her mother and three older brothers. Her father disappeared years ago on a navy mission when Ha was just one. Today the family doesn’t even know if he’s alive, but when the chance comes to flee Saigon and make a new life in America, Ha’s mother doesn’t hesitate. Once they’re settled in Alabama, Ha has a whole new set of problems ahead of her. She’s homesick, mad that she’s no longer the smartest girl in class, and tormented after school by some of the boys. Yet the solution, it seems, is not to become someone different but to take what she is already and find a way to make her new life work.

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