Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Butterfly Yellow” as Want to Read:
Butterfly Yellow
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Butterfly Yellow

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  112 ratings  ·  43 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 lit
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by HarperCollins
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Butterfly Yellow, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Butterfly Yellow

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
really liked it 4.00  · 
Rating details
 ·  112 ratings  ·  43 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Dani ❤️ Perspective of a Writer
Check out more reviews @ Perspective of a Writer...

The Buzz

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 d
Mar 09, 2019 marked it as not-released-tbr  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
That cover and that synopsis...

I can't even
Richie Partington
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 hundred
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 the ...more
Ms. Yingling
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,
Rachel Lipkin
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 serie ...more
Feb 18, 2019 marked it as upcoming
This summary alone breaks my heart.
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 relu ...more
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 BUT
Bettina Mayer
Aug 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

Butterfly Yellow is a book that defies expectations. It's a story about family, making mistakes, and friendship. This #ownvoices story is one that will, at times, break you heart, but at other times, make you smile. Butterfly Yellow tells the story of Hằng, her family, and her quest to find her brother. It is a deeply emotional story about survival, determination, and love. You can't h
Aug 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: will-read
This was a sweet story, but I found it very difficult to get into. It didn't flow well and it was hard to follow.
Hang's brother was taken with other orphans at the end of the Vietnam War. Hang had gone to the airport in an attempt to get them both to safety, but only babies/toddlers were being taken. Linh was taken from her arms and loaded onto an airplane to America. For 6 years, her family has been struggling to find him and get him back. Now Hang is in America and has found her brother, but he doesn't seem to remember her and doesn't want to leave his adopted mother. Can Hang reconnect and build a relat ...more
Paula Landry
Jun 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was fortunate to read an advance copy of this book - and received it at the perfect time. I'd been going through lots of serious books & popcorn/candy bar books - but hadn't had something heartwarming and moving, yet funny for a while. Butterfly Yellow was the PERFECT book at the right time.

I fell in love with the protagonist, and as often happens when I really fall deep inside a book, identified with her emotions, the ups, downs, her grit, pluck - the whole thing. I happen to be a huge f
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya
Determined to be reunited with the brother she accidentally gave to the Vietnamese Babylift, 18-year-old Hằng endured years of planning and privation and a harrowing trip by sea before her arrival in Texas where she's rescued by a would-be cowboy LeeRoy with whom she works and waits for her brother to accept her. A gentle love story so movingly told the reader accepts some unlikely coincidences. The use of Vietnamese transliteration to give the reader the idea of how English sounds to her and ho ...more
Christine Stamper
Jun 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
review book so no comments
Hằng travels to Texas in order to reunite with her little brother Linh, whom she hasn't seen since he was taken from her arms--by a man on an American-bound ship sent to war-torn Vietnam on a humanitarian mission--six-years ago.

However, while on her way to reunite with her brother, an odd set of circumstances place Hằng in the company of LeeRoy--a young man on his way to fulfill his dreams of becoming a cowboy and rodeo star.

Together the two find Linh but, once they do, Hằng discovers Linh not
Aug 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
3 out of 5 stars

Butterfly yellow is a heavy story about the awful kidnappings that happened during the Vietnam War and sits close to home for Thanhha Lai herself. She fled Vietnam during the war with her family and ended up in Alabama, USA.

Knowing the concept of Butterfly Yellow sat so close to her personal life story, right away I thought I was going to be raving about this read.

Although the story is heart wrenching I didn't enjoy it near as much as I thought I would. Which honestly breaks my h
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen
Hang has lived with the fact that she was responsible for her little brother being taken away to American in the last days of the Vietnam War. She had hoped for them both to be taken together, but instead he was ripped screaming from her. Now, six years later, Hang has come to the United States herself and is determined to find her little brother by following the only clue she has, an address on a card. Not finding anyone at the address, Hang is helped by an urban cowboy, LeeRoy, who longs to ri ...more
A short, nuanced and powerful story about the trauma of the Vietnam War.
It is 1981 and eighteen years old Hang is traveling to the United States to find her long lost brother. Six years ago, Lihn was mistaken for an orphan and adopted by Americans, and since, Hang has been blaming herself for the loss of her baby brother. On the road, she meets Lee-Roy, a wannabe cowboy who hides his awkwardness (particularly with girls) behind bad jokes. The two makes an unlikely but hilarious pair. But when Ha
Sep 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I always find books about families so easy to get into – more so than any other type of book. Perhaps because there’s always something I can identify with. Love. Loss. Laughter. Sadness. Happiness. Up and downs. And everything else in between. Butterfly Yellow by Thanhhà Lai is one of those stories.

The Vietnam War is over and it’s been six years since 18-year-old Hằng has seen her brother Linh. In the latter days of the war, Hằng brought Linh to the airport, in an attempt to get to safety in Am
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing and brilliant and beautiful book! This contemporary book is unlike most YA contemporary books I have read. It's funny, has depth, is interesting... you feel so immersed in the experience of being an immigrant to the US. I also appreciated the sticky plot that was handled so well and was surprised at some of the turns. So many YA books are disgustingly predictable and have "easy" endings, but this one did none of that and still offered a happy ending. It is a YA book, so of course there i ...more
Carol Deegan
I have mixed feelings about this book. It is good historical fiction about a young Vietnamese woman who has come to America with one goal: to find her younger brother who was taken away from her and put on a plane to Texas six years ago at the age of five. She finds him, but he does not remember her or his life in Vietnam. At times the book seemed unnecessarily tedious. We are told about her life and struggles, but virtually nothing about his life since arriving in the United States. This would ...more
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 theNewbe ...more
Liza Wiemer
Sep 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
A gripping novel that is rich on details, describing the harrowing struggle for survival as Hằng tries to reconnect with her brother Linh after six years of being a part. He's in America and has a new family. Hằng is the sister who sent him away from their home country of Vietnam. What she endured to find him shows the power of the human spirit in the absolute worst conditions.
Filled with heart, readers will explore the horrors of war, hate, family, friendship, and a sweet budding love story tha
Tayler Steele
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a gorgeous novel. Unique, gripping, and complex. The main character, H, broke my heart and gave me hope throughout. Each character transformed in genuine, heartwarming ways to create a beautiful storyline. I especially loved the subtleness of the writing - so much was said without being explicitly stated. It took me a while to get into it, but once I hit a certain point in the narrative there was no going back. Very powerful!
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I figured this novel would be beautiful after reading INSIDE OUT & BACK AGAIN, and it did not disappoint. Somehow I thought this book would be in verse too (it wasn't) but it is filled with such gorgeous prose that it could be poetry. But besides being beautifully-written, it is a tragic reminder of the scars immigrants fleeing terrible situations bear. Though it's historical, it is completely relevant today and a must-read for both teens and adults.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
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. She then spent the next decade correcting her grammar. Starting her writing life as 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