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INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN by Thanhha Lai Kirkus Star

INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN

By Thanhha Lai

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: Feb. 22nd, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-196278-3
Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

An enlightening, poignant and unexpectedly funny novel in verse is rooted in the author's childhood experiences. In Saigon in 1975, 10-year-old Kim Hà celebrates Tet (New Year) with her mother and three older brothers; none of them guesses at the changes the Year of the Cat will bring. (Hà’s father’s been MIA from the South Vietnamese Navy for nine years.) On the eve of the fall of Saigon, they finally decide they must escape. Free verse poems of, usually, just two to three pages tell the story. With the help of a friend, the family leaves, and they find themselves trapped at sea awaiting rescue. Only one of her brothers speaks English, but they pick America as their destination and eventually find a sponsor in Alabama. Even amid the heartbreak, the narrative is shot through with humor. Hà misunderstands much about her new home: Surely their sponsor, who always wears his cowboy hat, must have a horse somewhere. In a school full of strangers and bullies, she struggles to learn a language full of snake’s hissing and must accept that she can no longer be at the head of her class…for now. In her not-to-be-missed debut, Lai evokes a distinct time and place and presents a complex, realistic heroine whom readers will recognize, even if they haven’t found themselves in a strange new country. (Historical fiction/verse. 9-12)