To follow up with my previous post where I listed 7 of my Best loved Books that change the heart and mind here is my review of Inside Out & Back Again
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Published by: Harper Collins Inc. in February 2011
No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama.
For all the ten years of her life, HÀ has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by . . . and the beauty of her very own papaya tree.
But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. HÀ and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, HÀ discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape . . . and the strength of her very own family.
This is the moving story of one girl’s year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next.
My Take On It:
As Americans do we generally think that people coming here for refuge should “feel so lucky”? It was interesting to see this transition through the eyes of a little girl whose whole life is changing so dramatically. Ha` and her family are trying to learn English, fit in, and make their living in Alabama in the 1970s. Everything is different now. She is homesick for Saigon, worried about her father and adapting to a new culture. There are those who will be kind, but will the children at this new school be kind to her? How will her family endure the new life that the war has forced them into?
Most likely none of us will never go through the experience of being a refugee in a new country. That is why this book is on my list of those that change your heart and mind. It gives us a chance to see through new eyes and makes us think about what it might be like to walk in someone else’s shoes. Most of the time when that happens we think about ourselves and want to change accordingly or be more considerate.
This book was a fast read at about 208 pages, and refreshing for a little change, as it is written in verse! It has a bit of a diary feel as well. It is fictional, but based a little bit on the life of the author, Thanhha Lai, who with her family fled Vietnam and landed in Alabama, which I thought was very interesting. It won a NewBerry Award in 2012 among other awards and nominations. It would be a great book to read with your older kids. I read this back in 2013 and haven’t read it with my 8 year old as of yet, but maybe in the next year or so!