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Publisher's Summary

National Book Award, Young People's Literature, 2011

Vietnam-born author Thanhha Lai bursts onto the literary scene with Inside Out & Back Again—her National Book Award-winning debut. Written in rich, free-verse poems, this moving tale follows a young Vietnamese girl as she leaves her war-torn homeland for America in 1975. With Saigon about to fall to the communists, 10-year-old Hà, her mother, and brothers are forced to flee their beloved city and head to the United States. But living in a new country isn’t easy for Hà, and she finds adapting to its strange customs ever challenging.

©2011 Thanhha Lai (P)2012 Recorded Books, LLC

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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The experience of a refugee in America

What made the experience of listening to Inside Out and Back Again the most enjoyable?

Many students in the United States know the pain and loneliness of being the “new kid” at a school. But most Americans move from one city to another, or one state to another—not one country to another, and one culture to another. But reading allows children to learn about experience they’ve never had. And really good books allow children to feel the feelings described. Inside Out And Back Again is one of those tales. One can’t read it without changing as a person because the reader truly feels the feelings of Ha, the main character.

The story begins in Saigon, Viet Nam just before the city falls in the early 1970’s. Ha, her mother and brothers flee the country and are sponsored by an American family in Alabama. The first half of the story takes place in Viet Nam and the second half takes place in the US.

What did you like best about this story?

Ha goes through are real human emotions as she navigates the types of things all kids must endure when they are thrust into a new situation, only Ha experiences them a much greater extreme.

This is a wonderful story, well written, emotionally tight. Fifth through seventh graders will enjoy it.

Who was the most memorable character of Inside Out and Back Again and why?

Ha suffers the prejudice and crulty of the children at her school. She suffers the confusion of not knowing the language. And she muddles through the difficulties of having to eat unfamiliar foods and missing the treats she enjoyed in her native land. She also experiences the kindness of neighbors and learns the wonder of building new friendships.


6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Marc
  • CHICAGO
  • 06-07-17

perfect

This audio book is phenomenal. As a monolingual English speaker, I struggle with pronouncing the Vietnamese words, so I truly appreciated this book. I used this novel as a read aloud with my 5th graders, all of whom thoroughly enjoyed this precious, funny, heartbreaking, relatable tale. Well done!

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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This is the best story EVER!

I loved this story's similarities to the authors life! I hope every person that listens to this story feels all of the story in the heart! instead of reading it, I would recommended to listen to the story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great read!

Story was real, authentic and viscerally engaging. We are transported into the life of the characters, living through war and then the Western multicultural experience, which is absolutely eye-opening and profound.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Shouldn't be a children's book

I selected this book because it has been talked up a lot in the intermediate/young adult category. I have a feeling it is nostalgia in some ways pushing this selection. I don't feel intermediate, even most young adults, have the historical reference points to carry them through this story. The story is slow moving, without much conflict if you don't have the prior knowledge to infer the conflict and drama that has torn Vietnam apart. Even the bullying scenes are written with such emotional detachment that the reader can not connect to the story.

The narrator of the audio version is very monotone and I had problems even distinguishing when other characters were speaking, which wouldn't help readers struggling with the story to begin with. I feel like I am being offensive by complaining about the narrator's audio as this story actually reflects her own experience. However, for all the discussion about emotion at the end of the audio, there is none in her delivery.

Looking at it from an adult stand point, as one with personal connections with the Vietnam War, it peaked my interest in reading more about Vietnam, but I was left wanting to give up on this book and unsatisfied with the abrupt ending.

I can't imagine any of my students enjoying this book, even though it might be a culturally responsible choice for awards.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • C. Cherie
  • Holly Springs, NC United States
  • 10-10-18

Great story to share

You really get a full glimpse into the characters life and an understanding of where she is from and went through.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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I love it!

It very strong, big words passion in figurative language. And it shows the narrative feeling and thought.

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inside out and Back Again

I think this book was a really good book because it gives people of perspective of what it was like for the people who lived in Vietnam When The War started. and what it was like for most of the Southern Vietnam to move away from their home and learn a different language and go to a different school and learn a different language . Caitlin age 6 and Sarah age 8 .

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This book was added to my 8th grade curriculum.

Great listen. Good for me because I'll annotate while reading instead of just listening first.

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Not good

There was not enough about Vietnam war. More for a child not an adult. A big disappointment