Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai is a brilliant book. Told from the point of view of ten year old Ha, she shares one year in her life as Saigon, Vietnam falls and her family moves to Alabama. Her story is also told in free verse poetry.
I loved the Ha’s language danced across the pages, painting beautifully as she regretfully leaves her papaya tree and sets off on a boat with many other refugees praying for safety. A sponsor in Alabama brings Ha, her mother, and brothers over to live and they must learn to survive in yet another hostile culture.
A story of strength through adversity, Ha is a character that students will love. She also will provide teachers with some great talking points.
There was a girl in my first grade class that had been adopted to by an American family in what would have been 1975. I knew she had come from Vietnam along with her brother. I don’t know what happened to her family before she arrived in Ohio. As a first grader, I didn’t have a very good understanding of why she had to come here. Inside Out & Back Again gave me something from the not-so-distant past that I hadn’t thought about in a long while.
Excellent book for intermediate or middle grades. Sure to be an award winner!