In Inside Out & Back Again, Thanhha Lai narrates the story of ten-year-old Hà, a girl who has grown up in Saigon during the Vietnam War. Forced to flee her home with the end of the Vietnam War, Hà struggles to make a new life for herself in Alabama, while trying to learn the language, make friends, and understand the world around her.
Inside Out & Back Again was a moving, beautifully written book in free verse. Hà’s life was a moving and very real journey, from a war-torn homeland to peace in a foreign country, the story of a girl who longed for her old life despite all the horrors which were taking place where she had once lived. That reality in the story made it in some ways more powerful than many historical fiction novels which I’ve read—not a fictitious story, something imagined many years later by someone who had never experienced what they were writing about, but something based in real life, in the confusion and dreams of a relatable girl in a terrible situation.
This isn’t a book I’ll forget soon, and I doubt anyone will. I would highly recommend Inside Out & Back Again to readers ages ten and up, particularly those who love Farewell to Manzanar or Brown Girl Dreaming.