Inside Out and Back Again ~ Thanha Lai

Inside Out & Back Again

Rating: 5/5

I’m so excited about this book in verse. I’m not typically a fan of poetry, but for some reason the book in verse is more accessible to me, I think because the storyline is more arching and I don’t have to maintain constant focus. I’m planning to read this to the kids, as I think there’s a lot in there they can relate to, as well as plenty that’s very different from their experiences that can hopefully help open their eyes to other’s experiences.

Ha grew up in Saigon, but as the Vietnam War reaches her town, she and her family flee by boat where they are rescued by a refugee ship bound for America. They spend weeks on the water, after which they are taken in by a man living in Alabama. Ha discovers the similarities and differences between her culture and the American culture she is shocked by.

I felt the fear, happiness, anger, and sadness through Lai’s writing style, and the poetry gave extra weight to the words. I appreciate the concise descriptions that conveyed emotion so eloquently. This book felt modern to read, and relevant to refugees today despite being set in the late 1970’s, and I’m hoping that my students will also feel connected to her work.

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