Monday, May 13, 2013

Marvelous MG Monday: Inside Out & Back Again

To find out more about Marvelous Middle Grade Monday, click here.  

 TitleInside Out & Back Again
Author: Thanhha Lai (link)
Genre:  Historical (Verse)

Pub Date: February 2011


Goodreads Synopsis:  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.  

First Line: Today is Tet, the first day of the lunar calendar.

Inside Out & Back Again is the second middle grade verse book I read this year (May B being numero uno), and man do I wish these stories were around when I was in elementary school! Thanhha Lai's poetry captures the sadness, sacrifice, frustration, and humor of Hà's story in a compact punch. Lai wrote that it took her fifteen years to get Hà's voice right. After exhaustively trying different methods, one day she jotted down the emotions that would be feeling in short, clipped sentences. The quick phrases read like poetry, which she realized sounded more like Vietnamese, and the rest of the story unfolded quickly after that.

Why You'll Love Hà Lai doesn't sugarcoat Hà's anger at being forced to leave behind the things she loves in her homeland, as well as what she honestly hates about Alabama. Hà is full of spunk and fight, and the way she takes on her struggles with English and the strange customs of her American school gives a fresh and fabulous perspective to the proverbial 'new kid.'

Inside Out And Back Again Themes: family, identity, cultural identity, war, immigration, survival, loss, change, religion, bullying, new schools, ESL, kindness, hope.
 
Want to find more marvelous middle grade books? Check out my past picks, as well as these MMGM bloggers who have more recommendations every Monday!
 

 

15 comments:

  1. This has been on my TBR list for a while. Wow! I can't believe she worked on this book for fifteen years before getting the voice right. That's persistence! And it sounds like it paid off.

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    1. Serious perseverance! And ended up well worth it (note to self!).

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  2. Good good book! I loved it too and May B. There's so many great verse novels out there for middle grade!

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    1. Agreed! Children today are lucky ducks.

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  3. I loved this one, so much so that I bought a hardcover and will reread it aloud to my daughter. It's next in line for us.

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  4. I love how verse novels like this one really tap into emotions!

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  5. Ohhh I remember this jewel. Been meaning to read it since I read and loved May B.
    I'm hunting it down at the library asap.

    ~Akoss

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    1. Love the library! Just took out FIVE books for the May reading challenge.

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  6. I loved this book! I think it does a great job of not being too wordy. Sometimes you get books that are similar but they have too much fancy writing that it ruins the story.

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    1. Hi Kiki - welcome to my blog! I tried to track down your site and couldn't find it.

      Agreed - the simplicity of the verse is downright fabulous.

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  7. I too enjoyed this book (and loved May B.) We all seem to have similar tastes, when it comes to verse novels!

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  8. I'm sad to say I haven't picked this up yet. It's on the list though. I have a couple of middle grade books and an adult book that will probably take me fifteen years at this rate. ;) Thanks for reminding me about this one!

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  9. I liked your thoughtful review. Sounds like a book I would like. Glad it's a MG, need more topics like this for tweens. Will check it out. Great review.

    Marlene Detierro (Austin Search Engine Optimization)

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