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Butterfly Yellow

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  649 ratings  ·  170 reviews
In the final days of the Việt Nam War, Hằng takes her little brother, Linh, to the airport, determined to find a way to safety in America. In a split second, Linh is ripped from her arms—and Hằng is left behind in the war-torn country.

Six years later, Hằng has made the brutal journey from Việt Nam and is now in Texas as a refugee. She doesn’t know how she will find the
ebook, 304 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by HarperCollins
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Grace I would say eighth grade or past. There are some parts to the story that might be too dark for sixth and seventh graders.…moreI would say eighth grade or past. There are some parts to the story that might be too dark for sixth and seventh graders. (less)

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Average rating 3.90  · 
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Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer
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I have wanted to branch out and read some of the more lesser written about Asian cultures. But I had to wait for them to appear in the book community! I was really super excited to hear about Butterfly Yellow and it's Vietnamese immigrant story!

And I just loved the title and the cover!! It's not straightforward but with the way Butterfly Yellow reads I think its perfect. It's all about language and expressing oneself when you are most
Jennifer Blankfein
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Full review with AUTHOR Q & A on

When Hằng was twelve, her five year old brother, Linh, was taken away as part of Operation Baby Lift and sent to the United States at the end of the Vietnam War. She and her grandmother spent the next six years worried about his safety, wondering about his life and planning for their reunion. After spending time in a refugee camp, Hằng made the difficult journey to Texas, alone, to find her beloved sibling. Grueling
Erin Kelly
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Wow. Wow. I love H and LeeRoy so much. What a wonderful story about an unlikely pair. The writing is incredible, especially how the Vietnamese-to-English words are written. After I finished this book I had to take a minute to think about it.


OK. So it's the next day and I'm still thinking about how much I love this book. I'm perplexed by reviewers who were put off by H's English dialogue. Yes, it's difficult to understand at first glance (and even second) ... but that's the whole point.
Liza Wiemer
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Update: I listened to this audiobook nearly two months ago and can't stop thinking about it! Is it on your TBR list? If not, add it ASAP. #wndb!!!!

Butterfly Yellow is a gripping novel that is rich on details, describing the harrowing struggle for survival as Hằng tries to reconnect with her brother Linh. They have been a part for six years, and Hằng's unwavering determination to find Linh will keep readers on the edge of their seats. He's in America and has a new family. Hằng is the sister who
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: high school and above
3.5 stars

The beautiful cover of this book and descriptions of a Vietnamese girl's journey to find her brother enticed me to buy it. However, the cover art belied a harrowing tale of the brutality and horrors the Vietnamese boat people experienced trying to escape their war-torn land.

I have mixed feelings about this book because it has all the elements of a good coming of age story, including a Texas road trip adventure of two young people who set out together in the summer of 1981 with different
Richie Partington
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Richie’s Picks: BUTTERFLY YELLOW by Thanhhà Lai, HarperCollins, September 2019, 304p., ISBN: 978-0-06-222921-2

“Up to 70 dead after boat capsizes trying to reach Europe from Libya”
-- headline from earlier this month

“I will remember you
Will you remember me?”
--Sarah McLachlan (1995)

“In the final days of the war in April 1975, Hằng thought she was so clever, devising a way to flee while her family strategized and worried. Every day newspapers printed stories about Americans panicking to save
Oct 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: refugees
Hằng's takes her 5-year old brother, Linh, to be airlifted out of Saigon in 1975 (Operation Babylift), with Hằng left behind in Vietnam. She has felt guilty ever since, and gathers enough money to come to the U.S. after six years. Along her arduous route, she is eventually helped by a wannabe cowboy, LeeRoy. They go to a small town in Texas, where Linh (now David) is assimilated, and wants nothing to do with her, and Lee Roy is their only bond. However, for me, the book did not work for two ...more
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I recently read an ARC of this wonderful upcoming novel about a Vietnamese young woman arriving in the U.S. several years after the Viet Nam War. She is searching for her little brother who was in one of the last rescue airlifts of children. A series of unusual circumstances finds her in the company of a "wanna-be" cowboy headed to meet his rodeo idol. This beautifully written redemption story brought me to tears. In turn, Lai's exquisite writing also had me laughing aloud because she brings ...more
Mar 09, 2019 marked it as not-released-tbr
Shelves: reviewed
That cover and that synopsis...

I can't even
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
I found the writing of Butterfly Yellow weak almost to the point of incoherence. It never clicked for me - the sentence structure was jittery and the word choice often incomprehensible, and that threw me out of the story almost as soon as I began. The characters never worked for me, I never understood their motivations or believed their stories, and I had a difficult time with the dialect and so never understood how they could communicate.

A few examples:
A tingle begins in her toes; her
Ms. Yingling
Jun 24, 2019 rated it liked it
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Hằng's brother, Linh, was taken in Operation Babylift in 1975, and Hằng was left behind. She has felt guilty ever since, and after six years, at the age of 18, has finally made it to the U.S. She is to live with an uncle, but shortly after arriving, she has her cousin drive her to the bus stop so that she can go to an address in Amarillo, Texas to find her brother. She misses getting back on the bus during a break. Another traveler, LeeRoy, is at the gas station,
Oct 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: diverse-books

TW: family separation, death of loved ones, PTSD, and war

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this book as much as I hoped to. I felt that not a lot was happening in the story to keep me engaged. It does not have much of a plot and is very character-driven, focusing on Hằng, a Vietnamese immigrant, and this wannabe cowboy, LeeRoy. I did not care about LeeRoy and wished that the author had included Hằng's brother's POV instead. The brother was a character I wanted to read more about and gain insight
Sam Bloom
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars; very good, like her other books, though it took me a while to get through. I’d imagine that, (again) like her other books, this would become a favorite if I gave it a second read.
Krisette Spangler
Sep 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
4.5 stars

Hang, which means moon in Vietnamese, has been waiting six years to escape communist controlled Vietnam to get to her brother. She has sacrificed so much to make it to Texas, but her reunion is not what she expected. Her little bother is now eleven and has a new family. Hang is heart broken, but determined to regain her connection with her brother.

The story is sweet and touching. This is the second book I've read by Ms. Lai, and I love her writing. I would have given the book 5 stars,
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful well written story of a Hang, a young Vietnamese refugee, that comes to Texas to find her little brother -- only to find he doesn't remember her. The story is both tragic and funny (think Holes by Louis Sachar) as she meets a wanna be cowboy LeeRoy (Ly-Roi). I love how the book includes some Vietnamese language and her struggle to pronounce English . Wish there had been more perspective from David (Linh) - her brother of what he thought. This novel is definitely deserving of ...more
Brandy Painter
This, like all of Thanhha Lai's work, is excellent. It is historical fiction set in 1981 and follows a Vietnamese teen who has suffered a terrifying journey to America to find her younger brother who was taken from Vietnam as an orphan in the last wave of civilians leaving before the South fell. Along the way she employs the help of a wannabe rodeo cowboy fresh from high school graduation with a brand new truck and a dream. This is a wonderful tale about found family that covers a parts of the ...more
Not what I expected, but such a joyful surprise. I loved that it balanced out the extreme trauma of Hằng's recent past, with a present narrative of full of prickly relationships and unexpected moments. As a teen I would have swooned over the romance of it all.
Kate ☀️ Olson
Dec 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, aoc
A tough and beautiful story of a refugee’s journey from Vietnam to the Texas Panhandle in 1981. Ultimately this is a tale of horrifying trauma, resilience, family and language.
Isabella (lives_in_ya_books)
It was at a slower pace than I usually read, but overall I enjoyed this historical fiction novel.
Cecily Kyle
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sinful-towers
This book took me way too long to read, it just really wasn't my kind of story. There were parts of it that were cute but overall, I was a bit bored and I just couldn't get into the characters.
Meh Read!
Bettina Mayer
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved “Butterfly Yellow,” by Thanhha Lai. In some ways it reminded me of “News of the World” with its very moving depiction of the relationship that develops between two people from very different backgrounds and the beautiful descriptions of the lands they inhabit. It is, at times, heartbreaking and, at times, very funny. The two protagonists who generally tell their stories in alternating chapters are two 18 year-olds, Hang, a Vietnamese refugee and LeeRoy an aspiring cowboy from ...more
Aug 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: yabc-reviews
See my full review here:

BUTTERFLY YELLOW is a heartfelt and engrossing historical fiction. Hằng is in the US, searching for her younger brother. After the war, when she was twelve, she was involved in his disappearance. He was taken by a man to Texas, a place which Hằng has been desperate to go in order to set things right and save her brother.

However, the five year old she last saw is now gone, replaced by an older boy who does not seem to remember her.
Rachel Lipkin
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: young-adult
Wow. I don’t even know where to start. The writing is beautiful and abundant. The characters feel like your friends. The plot is epic and sad and beautiful. It was a fantastic read. What an adventure.
It’s 1981 and 18-year-old Hằng has just arrived in the United States, a refugee of the Việt Nam War. Her uncle is heartbroken at the deaths of Hằng’s parents and grandmother, and is determine to take his niece into his Texas home. But Hằng is equally determined to find the younger brother who was taken to the United States six years ago by a well-meaning preacher, a separation for which she blames herself. A chance meeting with LeeRoy, recent high school graduate and wannabe-cowboy, sets a ...more
Christine Stamper
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
This book is specific and universal, quiet and loud, poignant yet subtle. It, like all of us, and the world we live in, contains multitudes.

In the aftermath of the Việt Nam War, 18-year-old Hằng comes to America and searches for her brother that she has missed for over 6 years. The journey to family is not an easy one, but with a city cowboy named LeeRoy, a cantaloupe crop, and a horse farm allow Hằng to find peace and a new life.
Jennifer Mangler
This wasn't the easiest book to read because of Hằng's struggle with English, but I don't think that's a bad thing. It's also difficult to read because her story is a painful one.
Feb 18, 2019 marked it as upcoming  ·  review of another edition
This summary alone breaks my heart.
Melanie  Brinkman
How far must she go to find the lost part of her heart?

In the last days of the Vietnam War, Hang takes her little brother, Linh, to the airport to try to get them safely to the U.S.A. But at the last minute, Hang and Linh are separated. Linh ends up in America while Hang is left behind in Vietnam. Now, six years later, Hang's made it to Texas as a refugee, desperate to find her brother. Unsure of what to do, she stumbles across LeeRoy, a boy with rodeo dreams, who agrees to help her. But when
Abby Johnson
Thanhha Lai's first YA book is a powerful, rich story about a teen Vietnam War refugee searching for her younger brother in Texas in 1981. Separated as children, Hang's brother Lihn was sent to the US as a small child and adopted by an American family. Now that Hang has finally completed her treacherous journey to the United States to join an uncle living in Texas, her quest is to find the younger brother she accidentally abandoned. She struggles on her journey in the US and ends up getting ...more
Casey the Reader
Thanks to Harper Collins for the free advance copy of this book.

Near the end of the Vietnam War, Hằng's brother Linh is separated from their family, sent to America with a rescue group. Six years later, she makes the horrific journey to Texas to find him. Along the way, she gets a ride from LeeRoy, a city boy who dreams of being a cowboy. What Hằng didn't expect was that Linh would not remember her, their family, or Vietnam once she finds him.

I can honestly say I've never read anything like
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Thanhha Lai was born in Vietnam. At the end of the war, she fled with her family to Alabama. There, she learned English from fourth graders and then spent the next decade correcting her grammar. Starting her writing life as a journalist, she worked at The Orange County Register. She switched to fiction, leading to an MFA from New York University and short story publications in various journals and ...more
“Should 'sleep' be plural? No, sleep is an idea, like love, no s. So many decisions in a single simple sentence. Exhausting, this elaborate dance of words.” 0 likes
“Y'all have a song?'

H nods. 'Bất-tơ-phơ-lai de-lồ.'

'Butterfly yellow? You mean yellow butterfly.'

H starts to explain but pulls out her notebook. The most prepared notetaker on earth.

Bướm = butterfly, vàng = yellow.”
More quotes…