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House Without Walls

4.45  ·  Rating details ·  95 ratings  ·  33 reviews
For most people, home is a place with four walls. It's a place to eat, sleep, rest, and live. For a refugee, the concept of home is ever-changing, ever-moving, ever-wavering. And often, it doesn't have any walls at all.

Eleven-year-old Lam escapes from Vietnam with Dee Dee during the Vietnamese Boat People Exodus in 1979, when people from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia fled th
Published 2019 by Yellow Jacket
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Average rating 4.45  · 
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 ·  95 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Queen Cronut
May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, arcs, netgalley, verse
A novel told in verse about Vietnamese refugees fleeing from Ho Chi Minh's communist regime. This book made me reminiscent of Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai because of it's similar theme and premise.

House Without Walls follows the story of Lam, an eleven-year-old Vietnamese girl with a Chinese heritage escaping to America from Ho Chi Minh's oppressive communist dictatorship with her brother, Dee Dee. Although this book is a short and quick read, it discusses topics such as refugees, p
Amie's Book Reviews
Gorgeous illustrations and an important look at the life of a refugee camp.

This book will open the eyes of both Children and adults as they realize how lucky they are with the privileged lives they lead and how not everyone is so lucky.
Christina Reid
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't prepared for the emotional depth and heft of this story. Written in verse, it follows Lam and her brothers as they attempt to leave Vietnam and emigrate to another country, in the aftermath of the victory of the north Vietnamese forces and the subsequent discrimination against her family and other Chinese families.
This story has moments of darkness, but is also shot through with hope as the children face obstacle upon obstacle to reach safety and their father, ho successfully emigrated
Sachi Argabright
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
HOUSE WITHOUT WALLS is a beautiful yet devastating middle grade novel in verse about the Vietnam Boat People Exodus in 1979 where people from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia fled their countries for safety. The book follows eleven year old Lam and her younger brother Dee Dee as they take a long and grueling journey to a refugee camp across the sea, and then hopefully to their father in the United States. While most people think of home as a place with four walls, for these refugees home is temporary ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Immigrants and refugees are all over the news lately, so this is a timely read.It gives a good overview about refugees and refugee camps through the eyes of a 11 year old Lam. I've know refugees from WW2, refugees from Viet Nam, Somalia, and other countries, both as friends, students and patrons. and extended family members. it's a rough road to travel and a dangerous one. One takes a chance and hope for a better life eventually. I know of one man who spend a little over 15 years in a camp. sad. ...more
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-copies
eARC provided by Netgalley.

I’ve tried to write down my feelings about this book many times but so far I have found them very hard to express, but I will now try to do my best.

Let’s Chat: Plot and Writing

This book is based on a true story, it tells the story of Lam as she and her brother flee from Vietnam during the Vietnamese Boat People Exodus in 1979. I did not know much about this topic before I started reading this book, but after reading it I have felt compelled to look more into it and pl
Michelle Kenneth -
If you want to understand the plight of the immigrant and those fleeing their country, you need to read this. This book is aimed at a Middle Grade audience, but I believe everyone should read it. Each chapter is short with simple paragraphs (like poetry, but it is not) to tell the story of two children left to fend for themselves as they try to escape Vietnam in 1979. They face pirate attacks, a sinking ship, hunger, thirst, poisonous insects, snakes, rape scares, etc. all in an effort to find a ...more
Masatoshi Nishimura
Feb 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
This cute cover and short writing style totally throw you off, of what's coming in the story. I was much more expecting a lightheart child's story, but it was a surprise in a good way. From the beginning to the end, this book had grasped my imagination with rich emotions.

The story's set from the perspective of a young girl. But I also felt a strong underlying message that is somewhat political in its nature. But I enjoyed that style of throwing out broader societale questions quite a bit. I admi
Pearline Ho
Reminds me of Inside Out and Back Again.
Jonny Russell
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A great book for all ages that tells the story of a young girl and her brother as they escape Vietnam in order to find a better life. Written in free verse, with short but evocative chapters, the book doesn't sugarcoat the struggles of traveling on a boat or living in a refugee camp, while showing the importance of friendship and finding family. It's easy to empathize with the main character Lam, as she faces both hardship and moments of joy in her journey to find a home. Recommended!
A House Without Walls was an unexpected find for me at the library and I am so very glad that it was! It is the story of Lam (11 years old) and her brother Dee Dee (7 years old) and their flight from Vietnam in 1979 as part of 'the Boat People.' The author met the brother and sister upon whom the story is based in 1986, was in awe of their hazardous journey to the United States and felt compelled to tell their story.

I was in elementary school in 1979 and I remember hearing about the church "spon
May 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Pub Date: June 18, 2019

5 out of 5 Stars

My Review:

A novel for youth written in verse; Russell tells the story of Southern Vietnamese “boat people”, beginning in May of 1979. This group were targeted by the Vietcong Communist party when they took over Saigon in 1975. By 1978, the government was shutting down their businesses, taking away their homes, and sending men to reeducation camps or forcing them to fight against China at the border. Both deadly missions.

In order to escape communist rule, 1
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
*Score: 8/10*

This is a middle grade novel written in verse about the refuge experience of Vietnamese people in 1979 during the Sino-Vietnamese war. Its partially based on the experience of two real refugees that the author have interviewed, but also mixed in with other stories she heared, so its kind of partially non-fiction.

Language is simple as per expected for middle grade novel, but author uses nice key words to make it easier to imagine the scenery and experience. Though a bit simplistic I
Shaye Miller
Oh my, what an important story! Eleven-year-old Lam and her younger brother, Dee Dee, must escape from Vietnam and the cruel communist regime. Their hope is to leave the country by boat and eventually connect with their father who already made it to San Francisco in the United States.

Written in verse, this novel shares a grueling journey across sea and land where starvation and illness threaten their very lives. It’s horrific to learn of the pain experienced on the journey — of the ongoing naus
Michelle Kidwell
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
House Without Walls
by Ching Yeung Russell

Yellow Jacket

Children’s Fiction , Middle Grade

Pub Date 04 Jun 2019

I am reviewing a copy of House Without Walls through Yellow Jacket and Netgalley:

It’s 1979 and eleven year old Lam and her brother escape Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia during the Vietnamese Boat People Exodus. They manage to survive unbearable conditions, without food, and little water

This is a powerful story, of loss, of building a new life and of surviving against all odds, written in the ly
Lau, Ka-Sing
Jul 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In the early 80’s, I helped some new Vietmanese refugees as host family, and heard about their traumatic experiences. I am very moved to read the book “house without walls”, which reflects the real catastrophe. The story is about an 11 year old girl and her younger brother escape from Vietnam by boat in 1979, their dangerous encounters on the sea and the sufferings before finally reaching the refugee camp.
It is more than just a fiction, everything is so real; it records the history. I still rem
Karen McKenna
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lam and Dee-Dee manage to survive a dramatic boat escape from Vietnam, but what follows is a harrowing survival story of two children facing a dangerous ocean, violent adults, and deadly diseases and animals. Told in verse form, it was not the beauty of the poetry, but the honesty of the life-and-death struggle that made this story haunting. Not shying away from difficult topics, rape is mentioned several times and a main character dies. This is an important book, but I don't see my 4th graders ...more
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wasn’t expected this to be so deep, thoughtful or heart wrenching. It is written in free verse and flows easily making it a quick & easy read but the topic is very full. Based on true stories, it follows a girl and her brother leave Vietnam in 1979 fleeing the oppressive regime trying to make it to safety and then to find their Baba (father) in America.

They become close to a family on their journey and try and stay together despite the turmoil and pain that they face. It was both beautiful an
Vietnam has fallen to the Vietcong. The American forces have fled and many in Vietnam are afraid of what is to follow. That is why Lam and Dee Dee are put on a boat and sent out to see. Their family hopes they will find refuge and make their way to their father in America. The voyage is filled with danger as their boat experiences problems and they are not granted refuge. They are shuttled from one refugee camp to another and on one occasion sent back out to see on a sinking boat. They are helpe ...more
Stephanie P
Written in verse, this emotional story is based on the real life journey of two refugee children fleeing Vietnam during the boat people exodus. Heart breaking, but with beautiful moments of kindness spread throughout. I love that the author is friends with the real life characters and that the epilogue is written by one of them. The listed recommend age is 10 and up, but possibly above that if you have a sensitive reader.
Stefanie Kellum
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: for-teens
Add this one to your curriculum for grades 8 and up if you want to start a discussion about the plight of refugees. The verse novel format makes this one a quick read that even struggling readers will be engaged by. The characters have such heart, and the way they make a family when their own families get separated is touching.
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: quarter-3
Such a heart-wrenching and emotional book. Through the retelling of the Vietnamese Boat People Exodus in 1979, I felt emotional as well as learned how much hardship they truly had to face. I felt like it was easy to empathize with the character, as she faces pain and moments of happiness over the smallest things.
Danielle Wood
Oct 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received an ARC of this novel from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review!

This book was heartbreaking but beautiful. It was yet another part of history I was ignorant about and I was again educated by children’s literature. It really broke my heart even more for refugees. I think this book would tug on a lot of people’s heartstrings!
Sep 26, 2019 added it
Loved this book!
Dec 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was very good. I liked it because it's one of those books you just want to keep reading. Some parts were very sad and others were happy. I recommend this book.
Moon Child
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
The book was a really amazing, heartbreaking story. I rated this a 5-5 because of the detail in the story and amazing poetry. I very Much recomend this book.
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amazing,and inspiring
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It is very touching, and it shows the Vietnamese refugees and all sorts of situations that are very realistic for the time.
Greta Adams
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I cried. I giggled. What an amazing story of strength, love and faith with perseverance! Wow. I’d love to meet Lam!
Haylee B
Apr 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Poetry form, quick reading
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