Thursday, November 17, 2016

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

4 Stars

For those of you who know me, you might remember last year I discovered my youngest was failing to get his required nightly reading completed by opting to sit on the toilet and stare at the wall for 20 minutes every night rather than ever opening a flippin’ book. That little revelation led to us buddy reading Wonder. Unfortunately the boy child still appears to have been swapped with someone else’s baby and has yet to discover the wonderful world of book loving, so we are buddying up again this year. After having much success with The Outsiders and All American Boys he took his teacher’s recommendation and we ended up with this one - and wow what an important and timely little book it was.

Told in verse, Inside Out and Back Again is about Hà, a young girl growing up in war torn Vietnam. With the fall of Saigon, Hà’s family realizes they can no longer hold on to the hope of remaining in their country and flee to America via ship. Upon reaching a refugee camp in Florida, Hà’s mother chooses Alabama as their final destination in hopes that her children can have the life she dreamed of – college, families, careers, etc. This is the story of Hà’s first year in America.

First things first, since this was told in verse my kiddo was able to read it in only a couple of days which made him feel AWESOME so thank you Thanhha Lai for that format. And most importantly, to the messages presented. . .

“You deserve to grow up
where you don’t worry about
saving half a bite of sweet potato”

“Everyone knows the ship
could sink,
unable to hold
the piles of bodies
that keep crawling on
like raging ants
from a disrupted nest.
But no one
is heartless enough
to say
because what if
they had been
before their turn?”

“Mother says,
People share when they know
they have escaped hunger.
Shouldn’t we share
because there is hunger?”

They are something we should all be thinking of . . .

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Now I need a little bit of help choosing our next book (I’m leaning toward Sherman Alexie, but not 100% committed). We’ve definitely found a formula that is working – topics that are relevant to today, the shorter the better so dude feels like he’s making progress and maintains interest, NO instalovin’ mumbo jumbo, NO dystopia, would prefer something that is not a potential “required read” (i.e., The Lord of the Flies, The Chocolate War, etc.). Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

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