Inside Out and Back Again

Inside Out and Back Again - Thanhha Lai

Plot Summary: Ha has lived in Vietnam all her life, but when war approaches her hometown of Saigon, she and her family flee to safety in the United States. The journey is treacherous and adjusting to the American way of life is incredibly difficult for Ha. Told through prose poetry, this moving story shows a side of America that most Americans have never and will never experience for themselves. 


Thanhha Lai Speaks about Inside Out and Back Again



Review: I am not a big fan of poetry, so I was not really looking forward to reading this book. However, I was pleasantly to find that I loved this story - and I think that telling it through prose poetry was a brilliant decision. The poems in this book are so simple, yet beautiful, and they describe the incredibly difficult experiences that Ha has with a sense of innocence and clarity. 


Ha is such an adorable character. It was so interesting to see America through her eyes. Her preconceptions of America are so funny: she expects everyone to be a cowboy and eagerly looks forward to having her own pony, and she's incredibly disappointed when she learns that this is just not going to happen. It really makes the reader aware of the fact that our own preconceptions of other countries/cultures must not be completely accurate, either. At the same time, some of the things that Ha goes through are heartbreaking, especially considering that many of them happened to the author herself. 


I think that this is a must-read. It is incredibly relevant as society grows more diverse and it tells an important story quickly and in a way that is easily understood. In addition to having a great message, this is just a truly enjoyable story to read. I loved it!


Recommended to: As you can probably tell from my review, I would recommend this book to just about anyone. More specifically, I feel that this book would be particularly of interest to an urban library, or one serving an especially diverse area, but I also believe that it would be great to include in the collection of a library serving an area that lacks diversity, because it could introduce patrons to a perspective that they may not have the opportunity to encounter. I think that it would be especially pertinent to patrons who have come to America from another country, as it could help them feel less alone in a strange land, since it's told by someone who's had the same experience.