Publisher: HarperCollins Children’s Books
Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Summary: Inspired by the author's own childhood experience of fleeing Vietnam as a refugee and immigrating to Alabama, this tween novel told in verse is sure to capture young readers' hearts and open their eyes.
I snagged a copy of this one at last year’s BEA and had Lai sign it for me, which was awesome. My boss had picked this one out as being her top Newbury contender. While Jack Gantos’s Dead End in Norvelt (another book that I snagged and had signed at BEA but have yet to read) eventually took the prize, Inside Out and Back Again still gained the Newbury Honor medal and was a great middle grade book that would be perfect for any age reader.
Thanhha Lai’s Inside Out and Back Again tells the story of Ha, a girl that flees Vietnam with her family to move to Alabama. As poor as their conditions were in Vietnam, Ha misses it terribly when she is met with the strange customs of America and the bigotry of the people around her.
I loved this book and think it was entirely deserving of its Newbury Honor status. Lai’s verse created a wonderful story. I felt really connected to Ha’s emotions and story as she moved from one place to another. She was incredibly frustrated academically and socially. I loved that she forged a great relationship with her tutor and eventually found friends deserving of her trust.
The descriptions in this book were beautiful and really brought whatever Ha was talking about at the time to life. I was even more impressed that Lai created such intense descriptions through her short chapters told in verse. While many other writers could create the same picture while being incredibly verbose, Lai managed to create imagery using very few words. I personally liked that better; sometimes if a writer is rambling on too much trying to make me believe the picture they have in their minds, they lose me.
If you’re looking for a wonderful middle grade book, look no further than Inside Out and Back Again!
Rating: 5 - fantastic