Thanhha Lai is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Inside Out & Back Again, her debut novel in verse, which won both a National Book Award and a Newbery Honor, and the acclaimed Listen, Slowly, which was named to numerous best book of the year lists. She was born in Viet Nam and now lives in New York with her family. To learn more about Thanhha and her charity, Viet Kids Inc., visit www.thanhhalai.com.
"Based in Lai's personal experience, this first novel captures a
child-refugee's struggle with rare honesty. Written in accessible,
short free-verse poems, Ha's immediate narrative describes her
mistakes--both humorous and heartbreaking; and readers will be
moved by Ha's sorrow as they recognize the anguish of being the
outcast."--Booklist (starred review)
"The taut portrayal of Ha's emotional life is especially poignant as she cycles from feeling smart in Vietnam to struggling in the States, and finally regains academic and social confidence. An incisive portrait of human resilience."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"An enlightening, poignant and unexpectedly funny novel in verse. In her not-to-be-missed debut, Lai evokes a distinct time and place and presents a complex, realistic heroine whom readers will recognize, even if they haven't found themselves in a strange new country."--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Ha's voice is full of humor and hope."--School Library Journal (starred review)
Gr 4-8-Spanning one Tet to the next from 1975 to 1976, Thanhha Lai's semi-autobiographical novel (HarperCollins, 2011) is divided into four chapters: "Saigon," "At Sea," "Alabama," "From Now On." Ha, her mother, and her three brothers live in Saigon and her father has been missing in action for nine years. The threat of invasion from the North forces the family to flee on a South Vietnamese naval ship. After a rough trip, they are rescued by an American ship and go to America. They spend weeks in a tent city until a car lot owner sponsors the family and they move to Alabama. Ha faces discrimination, is bullied in school, makes new friends, and finally makes peace with the fact that her father is never coming home. This National Book Award winner and Newbery Honor Book offers a heart-breaking look at the costs of the Vietnam war, what it means to be an immigrant in a new country, and the strength of family. It ends on a hopeful note with the start of a new Tet and the hope for a bright future for the family. Doan Ly perfectly portrays Ha's youth and innocence, and captures the humor and emotions of the situations, especially those involving the quirks of the English language. A great addition to library collections.-Sarah Flood, Breckinridge County Public Library, Hardinsburg, KY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.