Saturday, February 9, 2013

Reading: Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Inside Out & Back Again is a story I was assigned to read about a girl named Ha who is forced to flee Saigon with her family when the Vietnam war hits close to home and has live in America with a host family from Alabama.  Ha has a hard time adjusting to her new home in America.  At school, Ha struggles with learning English and is victimized by her fellow peers as uneducated because of her language struggles.  During lunch, Ha observes the strangeness of American food - more specifically the ketchup and mustard on her plate.  Ha's family is taken to church and baptized, their heads splashed with cold water but never are their new beliefs explained to them and leave Ha feeling confused. 

The book is written in the style of poetry verse, making it a very quick and easy read (although, this depends on how you read the book - I read it just as if I was reading a novel while some read the book as a poem and this therefore would make the reading much longer). 

This book was on my list as one of the worst I read in 2012.  While I generally thought the book was an enjoyable read, it was forgettable.  This could be because I read it so quickly or it could be another factor I am not thinking of.  Thank heavens for the notes I took, otherwise I would completely be stuck with this review.  Moving away from that though, the book really appealed to me because it did a very good job at portraying the immigrant experience.  It also emphasizes that your learning experiences aren't always in a school.  I did not like, however, the main character Ha very much at times.  She complained A LOT, almost to the point where I wondered how readers would sympathize if this was an American child complaining.  Truthfully, I don't think readers (at least on an academic level) would sympathize with an American child complaining about the things Ha was complaining about.  Of course the book isn't about that; it is about sympathizing with Ha's experience as a young immigrant but that doesn't excuse her from being a brat.  I will give this book 3 out of 5 stars.  It was good but forgettable.

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