Inside Out & Back Again

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Inside Out & Back Again
Inside Out & Back Again.jpg
AuthorThanhha Lai
Cover artistZdenko Bašić, Manuel Šumberac, Ray Shappell
CountryUnited States
GenreHistorical Fiction
Media typePrint (hardcover)

Inside Out & Back Again is a verse novel by Thanhha Lai.[1] The book was awarded the 2011 National Book Award for Young People's Literature[2] and one of the two Newbery Honors.[3] The novel was based on her first year in the United States, as a ten-year-old girl who spoke no English in 1975.

Plot summary[edit]

Inside Out and Back Again is a story about a young girl named Kim Hà and her family, consisting of her Mother and three brothers, being forced to move to the United States because the Vietnam War had reached their home, and it was no longer safe. They board a navy ship and flee. Upon spending a couple months at a refugee camp, they end up moving to Alabama. There Hà struggles with learning English and confronting bullies, including one that she nicknamed Pink Boy, at her new school. Hà at one point

aid, "No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama."[4] Eventually, she has pushed through those hard times with the help of their next door neighbor, Mrs. Washington and the support of her family. In the beginning of the book, it mentions that Hà's father, a soldier in the Vietnam war, was captured by the North Vietnamese Army when she was only a year old. In the end, Hà's family figures out that unfortunately, her father had died while in North Vietnamese hands. Hà then gets used to living in the U.S and her family celebrates the new year. She prays for good things to happen to her and her family. The main resolution of the book is family importance.


Thanhha Lai had been struggling for fifteen years in order to accurately describe Hà's journey from Vietnam to the United States of America because Hà's journey was special—the fictional character was based on Lai’s own experience at the end of the Vietnam War. In order to avoid embellishing on her memory and risking the ire from the family who was there with her, Lai decided to tell the story of Hà instead. She attempted prose from the first person and the short, detached style of Hemingway. In the end, Lai used free verse because “these phrases reflected what Vietnamese sounded like.” [5]


  1. ^ "Thanhha Lai - About the Author". HarperCollins Publishers. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  2. ^ "2011 National Book Award Winner, Young People's Literature". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  3. ^ "2012 Honor Books". American Library Association. 1999-11-30. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  4. ^ "About the Book Inside Out and Back Again". HarperCollins Publishers. Retrieved 1 March 2012.
  5. ^ Lai, Thanhha (2013). Inside Out & Back Again. New York: Harper Collins. ISBN 9780061962790.

External links[edit]