Inside Out & Back Again By Thanhha Lai

By Thanhha Lai

One choice….and only one choice. How can you pick what will stay and what will travel with you, when you decide to leave your house and your country forever? One choice…and only one choice. In that one choice, there is all your past; there are all your memories, and your country. How can you decide what you must keep and what you must leave behind? What is your one choice? What will you bring with you?

When the Vietnam War reaches their home, Há and her family are forced to leave Saigon. They board a ship that will take them to a new life in America. They leave everything behind, hoping to have a better future in a foreign land.

The story of Há is written in short, accessible free-verses. It is difficult to explain the deep love that I have for this book. I love everything about it. I love how the verses reach your heart; how they crawl under your skin; how they scream life, misery, joy, compassion, loneliness, and pain. I love each word, each thought, each feeling produced by this book.  I love its blunt sincerity; its honesty. I love how the verses reach your soul and heart. They are sharp, pungent, and direct, like cement that scrapes the skin of your hands during a fall. This book hits your senses, your heart, and your whole existence.

But, most importantly, underneath its verses, the book holds a powerful question for all of us. How much do we know about the life, the struggles, the goals, the dreams, and the fears of those around us?

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