Inside Out And Back Again Thanhha Lai Book Review

Inside Out And Back Again Thanhha Lai Book ReviewInside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Also by this author: , Listen, Slowly
Published by Harper Collins on February 22nd 2011
Genres: Young Adult, Historical, General, People & Places, Asia, Social Issues, Emigration & Immigration
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon
ISBN: 9780062069726

Inside Out and Back Again is a New York Times bestseller, a Newbery Honor Book, and a winner of the National Book Award! Inspired by the author's childhood experience of fleeing Vietnam after the Fall of Saigon and immigrating to Alabama, this coming-of-age debut novel told in verse has been celebrated for its touching child's-eye view of family and immigration.
For all the ten years of her life, Hà has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her friends close by. 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 . . . and the strength of her very own family.
This moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing received four starred reviews, including one from Kirkus which proclaimed it "enlightening, poignant, and unexpectedly funny." An author's note explains how and why Thanhha Lai translated her personal experiences into Hà's story.
Supports the Common Core State Standards

Inside Out And Back Again by Thanhha Lai combines three of my favorite things – middle grade, history, and free verse. Inside Out And Back Again is a National Book Award winning story told in four parts about Ha and her family’s immigration from war torn Vietnam to Alabama.

The most prevalent and heartwarming theme in Inside Out And Back Again by Thanhha Lai is family. The idea that if you have family, you can weather anything really appeals to me. Ha’s family is very tightly knit and goes through everything together, helping each other bear up against the troubles they face in Vietnam and then in America. Ha’s family consists of Ha, her mother, and four brothers. Let me tell you, I really enjoyed the relationship between Ha and her brothers who each teach her something different and truly care for her.

Ha’s family are refugees from the Vietnam War, leaving the fighting in Saigon. Much of what I have read about the Vietnam War takes place from the soldier perspective, so Inside Out And Back Again by Thanhha Lai was a change of perspective. I mean, it’s probably the first Vietnam refugee book I’ve read. And I know that is said, that I get all the way to 24 years old and have never read a book told from this point of view, but really, friends, I felt as though I learned a lot from Inside Out And Back Again.

I feel as though I am beating this into your heads, but Inside Out And Back Again by Thanhha Lai is a verse book. As with most verse books — words are absolutely not wasted and we really get to see straight to Ha’s heart. ALSO Inside Out And Back Again is the second verse book I’ve read so far this year that is middle grade historical fiction. Clearly, I am doing well with the genre.

Inside Out And Back Again by Thanhha Lai is a solid two hour investment that will allow the reader the chance to see the world and the Vietnam War through another person’s eyes. I know that most books do this– show you the world through someone else’s eyes, but I just like how new the perspective of Inside Out And Back Again was to me.

Disclosure: Borrowed from my local library.

Other reviews of Inside Out And Back Again by Thanhha Lai:

The Reading Zone
Waking Brain Cells
Madigan Reads
Green Bean Teen Queen

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I added this to my TBR when it won All the Awards. Your review makes me even more anxious to read it!

  2. I hadn’t heard about this one, but it sounds great and I love the cover!

  3. the cover of this book is soo adorable.. I love the colors. I think I would like this book.. i’m going to go add it to my goodreads right now! 🙂

    Btw… Saturday is almost here!! Yay!!!!!!

  4. Sounds like a fantastic read!

  5. I am so hesitant to try anything written in verse, as I’m really not sure it’s for me. I do like to push my own boundaries though, and this might be the right one to pick up (better for me than say, Love and Leftovers), I love that it is family centric, and I really wish more books for older teens would focus on this theme. I also haven’t ever read anything from the Vietnamese perspective, and this more than anything is what might get me to try this book. Plus, I adore that cover.

    • Well, Inside Out is more MG-centric, but it IS good. I agree, I wish more books in the upper YA bracket had a family focus. I feel like family is such a large part of one’s life, that maybe there should be more books with a family focus.

  6. Definitely one I’ll have to check out — it sounds like it might fit for my historical fiction unit. I’m always on the lookout for books that aren’t just the same old, same old! Plus, a well-written verse book just sings.

  7. I really love this one’s cover, it was what first caught my eye. And hearing it comes April approved makes me super excited to read it 🙂

  8. This seems like it’d be a really good book to read in a classroom or at least have in your classroom. Does the verse make it more difficult to read for younger readers? I’d suspect not just because it is a MG novel, but yeah.

  9. I’m so happy you enjoyed this one! I’m planning on reading it sometime this year! I’m loving all of the family stuff in this one. And YAY for verse!


  1. […] Slowly by Thanhha Lai – I loved Inside Out And Back Again and I think I am going to love this verse novel […]

  2. […] Slowly by Thanhha Lai Also by this author: Inside Out and Back Again Narrator: Lulu Lam Length: 7 Hours 32 Minutes Published by Harper Collins on February 17th 2015 […]

Leave a Comment


CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: