Published by HarperCollins on February 22nd 2011
No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama.
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.
This is the moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next.
Short & Sweet: Inside Out & Back Again tells a harrowing tale of life as a young girl being forced to flee her home because of war. Told in verse, Ha's voice really touches on the emotions and feelings of a young girl who is being taken away from everything she has ever known. Ha must find a way to overcome her shame and embarrassment of not being able to communicate in English, to being sent back a grade, and not having any friends. Her family supports and helps, her brothers helping her by taking her to and from school, and the one neighbor (a retired teacher) helps her with her English, but more than just that. Miss Washington soon becomes Ha's ally and confident when she cannot approach her family about how she is feeling. Inside Out & Back Again could serve as an introduction to the Vietnam War or immigration as it gives an insightful view of how it feels to leave behind a country.
Final Verdict: A quick and emotional read, this is definitely a novel I recommend often.