Review: Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

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inside out and back againTitle: Inside Out and Back Again
Author:
Thanhha Lai
Genre: MG Poetry / Historical Fiction
Source: Purchased (Paperback)

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

For all the ten years of her life, HÀ has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by . . . and the beauty of her very own papaya tree.

But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. HÀ and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, HÀ discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape . . . and the strength of her very own family.

This is the moving story of one girl’s year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next.

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This was one of those books I never really intended to read when I did. I had been pulling some books off my shelf to add to my to-read pile (this one being one of my book hoarder selections) and just randomly flipped through the pages. When I saw that the book was written in verse, I decided to give it a go not ten minutes later.

I’m happy to have read this one. It was a very quick story, what with it being told in verse, but it was a huge mix of emotions. We follow the main character Ha as she is living in Vietnam during the war. She and her family travel by boat to leave Vietnam, eventually ending up in Alabama to an entirely new way of life.

I really felt for Ha in this story. It really is a story that makes you sit back and realize how lucky you are because Ha really didn’t have it easy. It’s especially tough to digest when I finished the story to read that Ha’s journey was based on that of the author.

Ha is a great storyteller, her story filled with joy and hope, verging more on the side of realism. It’s easy to think that this is a very depressing story, but to me it really wasn’t. The whole story was extremely realistic and I loved how Ha’s family stuck up for one another. We even get wonderful characters like Mrs. Washington and Pam — both of whom I loved! Not to mention Ha’s brothers, who were so great to her.

An incredibly moving story that I had mainly bought for the gorgeous cover (what can I say? I love a good cover!), Inside Out and Back Again really is a wonderful story about life, friendship, moving on, growing up, and family. Definitely well worth a read!

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2 thoughts on “Review: Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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