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Inside Out and Back Again

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Overview

Inside Out and Back Again is a New York Times bestseller, a Newbery Honor Book, and a winner of the National Book Award! Inspired by the author's childhood experience of fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama, this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child's-eye view of family and immigration.

Hà has only ever known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends ...

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Inside Out and Back Again

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Overview

Inside Out and Back Again is a New York Times bestseller, a Newbery Honor Book, and a winner of the National Book Award! Inspired by the author's childhood experience of fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama, this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child's-eye view of family and immigration.

Hà has only ever known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. 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—toward America.

This moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing received four starred reviews, including one from Kirkus which proclaimed it "enlightening, poignant, and unexpectedly funny."

An author's note explains how and why Thanhha Lai translated her personal experiences into Hà's story. This paperback edition also includes an interview with the author, an activity you can do with your family, tips on writing poetry, and discussion questions.

Supports the Common Core State Standards

Winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Young People's Literature

A 2012 Newbery Honor Book

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Narrating in sparse free-verse poems, 10-year-old Hà brings a strong, memorable voice to the immigrant experience as her family moves from war-torn South Vietnam to Alabama in 1975. First-time author Lai, who made the same journey with her family, divides her novel into four sections set in Vietnam, "At Sea," and the last two in Alabama. Lai gives insight into cultural and physical landscapes, as well as a finely honed portrait of Hà's family as they await word about Hà's POW father and face difficult choices (awaiting a sponsor family, "...Mother learns/ sponsors prefer those/ whose applications say ‘Christians.'/ Just like that/ Mother amends our faith,/ saying all beliefs/ are pretty much the same"). The taut portrayal of Hà's emotional life is especially poignant as she cycles from feeling smart in Vietnam to struggling in the States, and finally regains academic and social confidence. A series of poems about English grammar offer humor and a lens into the difficulties of adjusting to a new language and customs ("Whoever invented English/ should be bitten/ by a snake"). An incisive portrait of human resilience. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)
Booklist
"Based in Lai’s personal experience, this first novel captures a child–refugee’s struggle with rare honesty. Written in accessible, short free–verse poems, Hà’s immediate narrative describes her mistakes—both humorous and heartbreaking; and readers will be moved by Hà’s sorrow as they recognize the anguish of being the outcast."
Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
The year is 1975, the end of the Vietnam War, and Saigon is about to fall to the Communists. But ten-year-old Ha is grateful that her family is not among the wealthy who are fleeing Vietnam: "I'm glad we've become poor/ so we can stay." Even as she joins her mother and brother in grieving the absence of her father, missing in military action for nine long years, Ha savors the sight of the papayas ripening on in the back garden and the taste of sugary lotus seeds eaten for the New Year, with its promise of hope and joy. But before the new year is out, Ha and her family have become wartime refugees, trying to make a new life for themselves halfway around the world: "No one would believe me/ but at times/ I would choose/ wartime in Saigon/ over/ peacetime in Alabama." In haunting poems based on her own childhood experiences as a refugee in the deep South, Lai shares the sting of American ignorance and prejudice, the stigma of being thought "dumb" for not yet being fluent in the perplexities of English language spelling and pronunciation, the kindness of new friends, and the slow acceptance of inevitable change: "Not the same/ but not bad." Lai's poems have the stabbing specificity of the Vietnamese refugee experience, but also speak to any sensitive child wrestling with the necessity to compromise with wrenching, world-shifting transitions. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 4–6—A story based on the author's childhood experiences. Hà is 10 when Saigon falls and her family flees Vietnam. First on a ship, then in two refugee camps, and then finally in Alabama, she and her family struggle to fit in and make a home. As Hà deals with leaving behind all that is familiar, she tries to contain her temper, especially in the face of school bullies and the inconsistencies of the English language. She misses her papaya tree, and her family worries about friends and family remaining in Vietnam, especially her father, who was captured by Communist forces several years earlier. Told in verse, each passage is given a date so readers can easily follow the progression of time. Sensory language describing the rich smells and tastes of Vietnam draws readers in and contrasts with Hà's perceptions of bland American food, and the immediacy of the narrative will appeal to those who do not usually enjoy historical fiction. Even through her frustration with her new life and the annoyances of her three older brothers, her voice is full of humor and hope.—Jennifer Rothschild, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Oxon Hill, MD
Mary Quattlebaum
…Ha's voice feels wholly authentic…Lai's rhythmic free verse is rich with images both humorous …and poignant…These unforgettable poems offer a child's perspective on the fraught nature of starting anew.
—The Washington Post
Booklist (starred review)
“Based in Lai’s personal experience, this first novel captures a child–refugee’s struggle with rare honesty. Written in accessible, short free–verse poems, Hà’s immediate narrative describes her mistakes—both humorous and heartbreaking; and readers will be moved by Hà’s sorrow as they recognize the anguish of being the outcast.”
The Horn Book
“Lai’s spare language captures the sensory disorientation of changing cultures as well as a refugee’s complex emotions and kaleidoscopic loyalties.”
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books

“In this free-verse narrative, Lai is sparing in her details, painting big pictures with few words and evoking abundant visuals.”

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“In this free-verse narrative, Lai is sparing in her details, painting big pictures with few words and evoking abundant visuals.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“In this free-verse narrative, Lai is sparing in her details, painting big pictures with few words and evoking abundant visuals.”
Kathi Appelt
“Open this book, read it slowly to savor the delicious language. This is a book that asks the reader to be careful, to pay attention, to sigh at the end.”
Mitali Perkins
“American and Vietnamese characters alike leap to life through the voice and eyes of a ten–year–old girl—a protagonist so strong, loving, and vivid I longed to hand her a wedge of freshly cut papaya.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“In this free-verse narrative, Lai is sparing in her details, painting big pictures with few words and evoking abundant visuals.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061962783
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/22/2011
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 150,800
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 800L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Thanhha Lai was born in Vietnam and moved to Alabama at the end of the war. She lives in Kansas with her family.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 171 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(120)

4 Star

(24)

3 Star

(10)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(13)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 171 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2012

    Historically correct

    I fell in love with this book. It was breathtakingly written by Thannha Lai. I read the poems many times each, and I can almost feel the tree that Ha plants. Buy this book!

    37 out of 48 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 25, 2012

    An excellent teaching story

    This book tells how it was in Vietnam immediately before the fall of Saigon and the turbulent aftermath when everyone was forced to flee. Thing is, it's from the point of view of a little girl, Ha, 10 years old. She paints beautiful verbal pictures of her life and traditions in Vietnam, and also gives little glimpses into what she's thinking and struggling with. When her family moves to the United States, she continues writing about her experiences and her feelings about her new life. She experiences hardship and heartbreak, and the thought that she doesn't fit in. In case you think this is a depressing book, let me assure you it isn't. Obviously, there are some sad spots, but there is beauty and humor and a lot of insight into the world this child sees. I HIGHLY recommend this book. I read it with my 9 yr old granddaughter, a few poems each night, taking turns reading. She would beg for 'one more, one more', until we read 30 minutes or more. We discussed certain poems and re-read others. I looked forward to reading it as much as she did!

    23 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 15, 2011

    Kim

    I can not stop reading this book about Kim and her new life in America for she can go through life.

    20 out of 30 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2012

    Great Book. Im encouraging you to gey lt it. Some parts are harder to understand. But still a good book!

    18 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 4, 2012

    really good book!!!!

    I would say this is a really good book if you like poems that tell a story.

    16 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2012

    So good

    Love this book sooooooooooooo much Get It

    13 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2012

    I love it!

    I
    love
    this
    book !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    10 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2012

    Love it

    My dad and I were just at the bookstore and he told me that it is a classic favorite and yes it did win a newberry.

    10 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2012

    Most awsome book dut sad at the same time

    Kim and her family with out the home because of war must be realy hard

    9 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 15, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    best book ever!!! :)

    i just started reading this book and so far its a very good book! i cant wait till the climax is here! cant stop reading it! highly recommend everyone to read it :)

    6 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2013

    Click yes

    This book is awesome because it is inspiring and it also shows how some exchange students feel or act. I definently recomend getting this book. Click "yes" if you agree.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2013

    IMPORTANT

    Just to let you know,the author of this book made it all about her own life in many ways.This book is almost an autobiography,so the author went through most of the stuff Ha went through,if not all of it.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2012

    SHOULD I GET THIS?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!??!?!?!?!?!!?!?!

    I want to know if I should get this! I read the plot and it looks good and when I looked at the reveiws 2 people didnt write anything! Dont do that guys, Im serois!

    5 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2013

    Anonymous

    I personaly think this book wslas not boreing at all! It was touching, I am still reading it and past the middle. It is a story about a girl named Kim or Ha' and her journey to America, it may seem boreing how I put it, but read it. This book is easy to get through, and read it again if you misunderstoodd parts. I am 12 and love the book, I had some background nolge, but some of you may need to ask some one old to fully understand. If you think you have a lot of problems, see how many she has, and now she deals with them i this book. Not only you have problems...
    ..hint hint

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2012

    I read this not on a nook

    This book is awesome its so good not just bescuse its aDCF book it also made me under stan so of the past

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2012

    Best

    I cant stop stop reading very good book

    4 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2012

    Review

    Best book ever

    4 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2012

    People peeps

    I heard about this in class

    4 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2012

    Anonoums

    I havent even read it yet. I s it a new bery honor book?

    3 out of 31 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 7, 2012

    Good book!!!

    I LOVE THAT BOOK!!!:)

    3 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 171 Customer Reviews

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