Inside Out and Back Again is a novel in verse by Thanhhà Lai. This book won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature in 2011 and a Newbery Honor in 2012.
Through a series of poems, 10-year-old Hà takes the readers through one year of her life in 1975. It was a life-changing year, beginning with her life in Saigon, then fleeing South Vietnam on a ship as Saigon fell on April 30, 1975. Hà and her family were in a refugee camp before resettling in Alabama, and the family struggled to start a new life there. Hà struggled with the language and fitting in at school.
Many details of this book were inspired by Thanhhà Lai’s own life. She also fled Vietnam at the age of 10 at the end of the Vietnam War, and moved to Alabama. The poems in this book will make you laugh and they will also make you cry. They will make you want to read this book all in one sitting, and when you get to the end, immediately want to read it again, but slowly this time to savor all the words. This book is powerful, poignant, and moving, worthy of all its awards.
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhhà Lai. HarperCollins, 2011.
Reviewer bio: Chang Shih Yen is a writer from Malaysia, seeing through the pandemic in New Zealand. She writes a blog at https://shihyenshoes.wordpress.com/.
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