Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Ten year old Hà loves living in Saigon, even though the war between the North and South makes life difficult.  Despite missing the father she barely remembers, she soaks up the foods and traditions of her homeland.  She even manages to savor a little fried dough on market day by buying a little less pork for her family.  When Saigon falls, Hà and her mother and brothers board a ship that takes them to American.  How will she ever make a home in the strange new land of Alabama?

I loved Hà’s stubbornness as she tried to find her way in a strange, new world.  She doesn’t want to be told not to do something just because she is a girl.  Her complaints about how the English language work make perfect sense.  Some of her new neighbors and classmates are less than welcoming, but others, like Pem and SSsì-TiVân and Miss Washington, step up to offer friendship and guidance.

Thanhha Lai captures the loneliness of leaving home and the courage of starting anew in this book of poetry.  Inside Out and Back Again (Scholastic 2011) will take your heart by the hand and lead it around the world before coming home again.

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