Inside Out and Back Again - Review

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Publication date: 22 February 2011 by HarperCollins Children's
ISBN 10/13: 0061962783 | 9780061962783

Kimberly's review:

Beautiful prose and a heartwarming story await you inside the pages of Inside Out & Back Again. The story is of Hà, a ten year old Vietnamese girl who lives in Saigon before its fall in 1975. Her family escape on a boat to Guam, where they find refuge for a time, only to be sponsored by a cowboy and brought to live in Alabama.
Her world now drastically changed, she must not only adapt to her uprooting, a new environment, language and rules, but also to the dark side of suddenly being very different than everyone else and fighting to belong.

I read this story in one siting, the lovely language rolling off the page. Kudos to Ms. Lai who described Hà's journey beautifully and captured the emotional storms of Hà and her family so vividly. Her culture, language, the essence of who she is and where she came from slowly develops into something new. 

Hà straddles two worlds, not really belonging in either. To cling to who she is, and find a new voice makes this a strong story of growing up. The tropical feel of Vietnam contrasts well against the journey to America and Alabama. Hà and her family adapt to her new home, keeping small pieces of themselves along the way. Universal themes take on a sharper sting as we see her struggle with adolescent issues as well as cultural and racist problems. 

Lai should know, as this story is loosely based on her own experience fleeing Vietnam and ending up in Alabama.  Overall, a wonderful book which should be savored and read again and again. And bravo to Harper Collins, for publishing a diverse book with colorful characters and diversity.

Check out HarperCollins's website for more info about this book. Kimberly read this for the Diversify Your Reading Challenge. Find out more at