Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai. This novel was written in short, free-verse poems which initially made it hard to get into, but eventually I didn’t even notice it anymore. The book is set in Vietnam during the time of the Vietnam War. 10-year-old Ha sadly learns that her mother wants to get her and her three brothers out of there before things get even worse. Traveling by boat, their first stop is a tent city in Guam and from there they move on to Florida. After finally finding a sponsor there whom Ha calls “the cowboy”, they are taken to live with him and his unfriendly wife in Alabama. There, Ha and her family experience major culture shock, and she is constantly teased and tormented by her classmates. She slowly begins to assimilate with the help of a nice neighbor/teacher who had lost a son in the Vietnam War. I found this book to be very interesting, especially after reading that it was somewhat based on the author’s own experiences.
Book reviewed by Julie D., Elementary School Liaison