Ha has lived in Saigon for all of her life, though things have been different, especially recently. Her dad has been gone most of her ten years, and she worries that she will never see him again. But she has to be brave, and she has to have hope. When the Vietnam War hits Saigon, it's time for Ha, her mother, and her brothers to move somewhere safe. Taking only one item each, they travel by boat far away from the only home Ha has ever known. The journey isn’t easy, and it's the worst experience of her young life. When the boat has finally reached safety, Ha is still not at her final destination. More moving and adjusting will take place before her family is sponsored, and they move to a state called Alabama. Now she needs to try to fit in, only she doesn’t speak the language, and many people already think they know who she is and what she is about. What will Ha’s life be like in America? Will she find friends and be accepted? Is her family ever going to see father again? What would you pick if you could only take one item from your home? You must follow along with Ha on her journey to find out what happens!
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai is based on the author’s experience leaving Vietnam as a young girl. The story is told in verse. I had never read a chapter book written in verse, and I was concerned that I might not like it. This was not the case! Ha’s emotions came through in beautiful stanzas. The short chapters and text made it easy for me to read a huge chunk of the book at once, and then to read parts when I only had a little time. Ha’s relationship with her siblings was easy to relate to, and I liked reading her perspective on the life changing journey. I would definitely recommend this book to fourth through eighth graders. I think many adults would learn a lot from seeing the world through Ha’s eyes. I enjoyed the historical aspects of the book, and I think it would help a lot of kids to see what life is like for someone during wartime, and why peace is so important. I look forward to reading another book by this author.
Has anyone else read Inside Out and Back Again? Or have you read another book by Thanhha Lai? We would love to hear your thoughts!
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