Inside Out and Back Again
By Thanhha Lai
Harper, 2011. 263 pgs. Middle Grade fiction
In 1975, Ha has lived in Vietnam for her entire life, living with three bothersome older brothers, her sad mother, and the shadow of her father, who has been missing in action for nine years. When the opportunity comes for their family to flee the country, they decide to go, only to find that real-life America isn't quite like what they've seen in movies. As a stranger and outsider, Ha faces teasing at school and misses her homeland.
This novel-in-verse is beautifully written and gives readers a wonderful look at the process of leaving a beloved homeland for a strange country is like. I loved Ha--she's spunky and funny and I think Lai captured the emotions of such a turbulent situation perfectly. Just pick the book up; it'll convince you itself.