Inside Out & Back Again

Inside Out & Back Again

Book - 2011
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May 10, 2019

Beautifully written free verse poem that tells the story of a Vietnamese family fleeing to America amidst the fall of Saigon. Really poignant to read now given the current political climate. The confusion, panic, and uncertainty that comes from being forced from your land, being tightly packed on a ship, with little food, all being told from a 10 year old’s perspective is touching and hard to read at times.

Feb 06, 2019

it such a great book it like an adventure book but 10 TIMES BETTER i can wait to read the second book!:)

Jul 14, 2018

This book is amazing! It opened a doorway into a new world for me. Most of us know about refugees from wars like the Syrian civil war and the Vietnam war, but few of us actually understand what's going on. Amazing read for anyone who can understand it.

JCLEmilyD Feb 25, 2017

Oh how I loved this book! It is wonderfully written in a series of poems by a 10 year-old girl leaving her home in Vietnam because of the war.

Jun 10, 2015

Sort of sad that the girl had to leave her friends and that her schoolmates picked on her.

Jun 03, 2015

I am not a big fan of books in verse so I was a bit reluctant to read this. I am glad i did it was a good book. It verse makes it a very quick read. It might be a good book to give to reluctant readers.

Jan 27, 2015

beautiful, clear, succinct, poignant tale of a young girl escaping Saigon and finding a life in Alabama. Reflects beauty and ugliness of American culture. Informative of "normal" life in Saigon, not just the effect of war, and of Vietnamese culture.

LibrLdyMapleValley Jan 23, 2015

Every New Year brings the war closer and closer to Ha's Saigon home. But the idea of leaving is unthinkable. Ha desperately holds onto the hope that her father, who has been missing in action for nearly nine years, will walk back in the door one day and if the family leaves then how will he find them? But as the bombs reach the outskirts of the city her mother knows it's time to run.
They can only take a very few things with them when the city falls to the Communist army, just what they can carry. Her mother takes 10 family photos and burns the rest and Ha would like to take her beloved papaya tree that she's grown from seed but, of course, that's impossible. It feels like she's losing everything she's ever loved when she goes from being deeply rooted in Vietnam to being rootless in a world that doesn't seem to want anything to do with her. In the crush of thousands of people trying to escape the bombing they end up on an overcrowded ship with their few belongings and not enough of the essentials like food. Before long they're floating around in the ocean, lost on an overcrowded ship and starving.
When they do finally land they end up in the United States. Alabama to be exact and it feels like they're still in a war zone. People, kids and adults, bully and threaten Ha daily. Life is alien and hard. Adjusting to this new existence takes time, the love of her family and the kindness of strangers. The journey is unforgettable.
Author Thanhha Lai has written this semi autobiographical novel of survival in a time of great change in free verse which works beautifully. Her ability to capture complex and intense moments through lyrical verse is impressive. Inside Out and Back Again is in the same arena as Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy in dealing with frightening historical events in a way that is wonderfully accessible for children in grades 4 on up.

Jun 18, 2014

I loved this book! Poetry was a unique way to share this touching story.

litriocht Jun 17, 2014

In one particularly memorable scene, Hà is asked to recite some basic words, like the alphabet letters and a few numbers, in front of her new, American classmates. For this simple task, she receives applause. Her anger at this reaction is almost palpable. At home, she is the best student! Yet here, she is lauded for knowledge that a much younger student would know.

Anyone who has learned a second language can relate to Hà's sense of frustration at scenes like this. Even her name is taken from her, as most Americans don't catch the falling tone as shown by the diacritical mark; instead, her name is mispronounced as the sound of laughter. Despite this indignity and many others, this young Vietnamese girl persists in learning English and successfully transitioning to her new life.

Red_Cobra_111 May 19, 2014

this book is a really good book! Like I said in the love that dog thing this book has a lot of poetry in it and that makes it nice to read because the order of the words are not striate forward. you might be thinking that poetry is boring but you are wrong! this book does not have that kind of poetry that you don't want to read. this book has the kin of poetry that tells a story, and that is a good kind of poetry to read!

Feb 06, 2014

very good!

Jul 11, 2013

Interesting and unique read, it's great to learn about a different culture, and the format in this book is both fitting for the content and intriguing to the reader.

May 28, 2013

I loved it. While it didn't seem that poetic, it's still written beautifully, and it's a hopeful story.

Mar 26, 2013

Students, ages 8-13, would be able to relate to this story very easily. This is an enjoyable and entertaining read for students that is engaging. Everyday struggles of race, bullying, and transitioning to a new place are all issues students can relate to which is why this can work in the classroom. This is a great opportunity to incorporate poetry into the curriculum.

Nancy J Mata
Feb 24, 2013

I recommend this book because it portrays a problem that some students go through, and that is fitting in. The story is develops in a series of poems and reflect the struggles of a little girl in a new country, with a new language and a new life. The author sets the message of hope and a new beginning in the story. With support from family and friends the main character Ha's feisty gains her self-confidence back.

Jan 19, 2013

Honestly, I have never read a story about immigrant experiences, but this was a great book, not only for people that are in the middle of a war, but it relates to everyone in respects to hardships, overcoming challenges, and the importance of family in emotional and rough times. The poetic style of the book made it even more intriguing, and made powerful images in my head. I recommend this book to young readers to not only understand the differences of others, but to become more aware of the lifestyles, languages, and places there are in the world. I think this is a great book to read!

lakevilla_IDOL Oct 18, 2012

This story is very interesting and keeps you going. It's about a girl who dies, goes to hevean, and works her way back to life. After they die they are basically reborn again, but start at the age the died and work their way back to being a baby. After all of this your life starts over again. At times it weird, but overall it's really good and I think boys or girls will like it. I would recommend this nook to people at least in 6th grade and up otherwise you might not understand it as well.


All told, Inside Out and Back Again has the brevity of a verse novel packed with a punch many times its size. It’s one of the lovelier books I’ve read in a long time, and can make you think about and question the entire immigrant novel genre, so long a permanent part of the American children’s literary canon. Lai drew upon much of her own life to write this book. Now I’d like to see what she’s capable of when she looks at other subjects as well. Great new author. Great new book.

LocketLibrarian Feb 29, 2012

Beautiful story about a Vietnamese family who flees the country and end up in Alabama.
I don't normally like stories in verse, but I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Campbell_Lib_Kids Feb 14, 2012

Beautifully told (and a Newbery Honor Book).
Ten-year-old Ha recounts the year that she and her family must leave Vietnam as Saigon fell, and their adjustment to their new life in Alabama. The spare verse is a perfect way for her story to be told.

Mewsician Oct 29, 2011

This story succeeds in reaching its implied goal--to tell us what it's like to be a child in a war-torn country and to be forced to emmigrate to a strange country. Yes, it's told in free-verse style and format, but it's still down-to-earth. Poignant without self-pity, tempered with a bit of humor, Lai's highly autobiographical book will give most American children a view they will never (thankfully) experience first-hand.

1libraryuser Aug 03, 2011

Beautifully written story about how a young girl and her family escaped the war of vietnam and started over in the U.S.

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