Publisher's Note:  

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.

Inside Out & Back Again

by Thanhha Lai

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Overall Review:  

 In 2008 there was a little flutter criticizing the Newbery Award Winners for being out of touch with what children want to read these days.  At first glance, Inside Out and Back Again seems a poster-child for this criticism:  a book with poetry for prose, an artistic title, simple cover art, and a complete lack of the fantasy-based storyline that is so popular with younger readers.  However, Inside Out and Back Again is a book that every adult should consider reading and then they should immediately hand it to a child to read.  This book tells the experience of Ha and her family as they flee Saigon for America.   Along with recent books by Gary Schmidt (Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now), this book fills an under-represented era in children’s historical fiction.  The poetry form of the book is an asset rather than a hindrance and it is a quick, flowing read.  Inside Out and Back Again perfectly fulfills one of the major purposes of great literature:  to the see world through another’s eyes.  Perfectly voiced, beautiful, poetic…read it!

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  1 religious exclamation


Violence/Gore:  A character threatens to beat another character up; there is a report of a bombing; a brick is thrown through a window; a bully pulls a character’s hair; a character chases and attempts to hit another character.


Sex/Nudity:  None


Mature Subject Matter:  

War, Death of a Family Member, Racial Discrimination, Immigration.


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Reviewed By Cindy
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