Monday, June 25, 2012

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Há is a ten-year-old girl living in South Vietnam with her mother and older brothers when she and her family barely escape the fall of Saigon in 1975. As they board the ship to America, Há knows that she will never see her papyrus tree again, she will never see her friends again, and she will never see her MIA father again. As her family settles into its new life in Alabama, Há tells of the promise of democracy giving way to acts of racism as well as the kindness of a few overcoming the hatred of many.

Thanhha Lai weaves a simplistic, yet emotional, story that provides a new perspective for how the Vietnam War changed people's lives forever. Told in free-verse, the reading is fast-paced and easy to comprehend. My only complaint is that this young adult National Book Award winner, which is slated for 8-12 years old, is clearly children's literature. Although I enjoyed the storyline in
the context of children's literature, the reading is too simplistic to be categorized as young adult literature. It makes me wonder if this novel was pushed into the NBA pool by cronyism. Decide for yourselves.

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