Friday, March 02, 2012

Inside Out & Back Again (MG)

Inside Out & Back Again. Thanhha Lai. 2011. HarperCollins. 262 pages.

1975: Year of the Cat
Today is Tet,
the first day
of the lunar calendar.

Every Tet
we eat sugary lotus seeds
and glutinous rice cakes.
We wear all new clothes,
even underneath.

Mother warns 
how we act today
foretells the whole year.

Everyone must smile
no matter how we feel.

No one can sweep,
for why sweep away hope?
No one can splash water,
for why splash away joy?

Inside Out & Back Again is a verse novel with wow-factor. If you like compelling novels with great narrators, then it's definitely a must-read. The heroine of the novel is a young girl named Ha. Her family faces a difficult choice, but they make the only choice they feel they can make at the time, they choose to leave war-torn Saigon. They could apply to go anywhere, they could try to find a sponsor in a number of countries, but they choose America. The family ends up in Alabama. For better or worse as Ha herself can tell you. For this sensitive, well-spoken young girl is made to feel ridiculous, stupid, and worthless. She's bullied by many of her classmates. There are days Ha feels that even a war-torn country would be a better place to live than Alabama. But the novel isn't without hope. For Ha's life isn't hopeless, good things can and do happen to her and her family.

I definitely recommend this one!!! I loved it SO MUCH MORE than Dead End in Norvelt. (Have you read both books, which one did you like better?!) I thought the poems were so well-written. Here's one called "Two More Papayas"

Two More Papayas

I see them first.
Two green thumbs
that will grow into
orange-yellow delights
smelling of summer.

Middle sweet
between a mango and a pear.

Soft as a yam
gliding down
after three easy,
thrilling chews. (21)

And one called "First Rule." It is one of many, many, many poems about Ha's experiences learning English/English grammar.

First Rule

Brother Quang says
add an s to nouns
to mean more than one
even if there's 
already an s
sitting there.


All day
I practice
squeezing hisses
through my teeth.

Whoever invented 
must have loved
snakes. (118)

Read Inside Out & Back Again
  • If you are interested in Vietnam
  • If you are interested in historical novels
  • If you are interested in verse novels
  • If you are looking for heroines with heart
  • If you are looking to read this year's Newbery honor book
  • If you are looking for books about grieving and healing
  • If you are looking for family books
  • If you are looking for books with school settings and bullying

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Serena 2:05 PM  

sounds like an interesting read. Thanks for sharing this verse novel.

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP