I’ll confess: I was already smitten by the beautiful cover of this book when a friendly Harper Collins publicist handed me a copy at IRA a couple weeks ago. She promised me the inside was just as lovely as the cover…and she was right.
INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN by Thanhaa Lai is a gorgeous novel-in-verse about a young girl who flees Vietnam as Saigon is falling and makes a new home with her mother and brothers in Alabama. Based on the author’s own experiences as a child immigrant, the poems are spare and lovely, and they manage to capture both the sense of wonder and the feeling of isolation of a newcomer in a world where everything seems different. As a teacher, one thing I found especially interesting and heartbreaking was Ha’s feeling of suddenly not being smart any more when she enrolled in her new school in America – such a common experience for gifted kids who encounter a language and culture barrier in a new home.