Erica's Reviews > Inside Out and Back Again

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
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I don't recommend listening to this one. The narration is stiff and the Vietnamese words are spoken in italics (see Older's thoughts on italicizing a native language)

I didn't read this one with my eyes because I have an aversion to novels in verse. While they can be more nuanced than the typical novel and though you have to work harder to get to the depths due to a scarcity of words, they seem choppy to me, jarring, and a little flighty. I'm not a fan of poetry, either, so the whole paint a big picture with the most minimal of brushes thing doesn't appeal.

However, this semi-autobiographical story is both timely and not overtold. Ha, her brothers, and their mother all flee VietNam, traveling downstream on a Naval ship to sneak out of the country. They're eventually rescued at sea and wind up in Alabama where they're sponsored by The Cowboy and his sour wife.
There are several topics in this short tale that are relevant to today, specifically refugees seeking safety in America, cultural integration, racism, and the goods and evils of Christianity. (view spoiler) Unpacking these issues in the gentle way this story manages should engender some sympathy from young readers. In addition, there are the standard topics of starting a new school, bullies, community, and the value of well-meaning adults in a child's life making the story relatable to kids who are not Asian refugees in the 70's because some things just never change.
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Reading Progress

April 24, 2017 – Started Reading
April 24, 2017 – Shelved
April 25, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Galloway I hadn't seen the Older video or ever thought of it that way, but it makes so much sense!

Erica Matthew wrote: "I hadn't seen the Older video or ever thought of it that way, but it makes so much sense!"

Italicizing real words that aren't English drives me nuts (as opposed to fantasy words which I think should be italicized because they're a made-up language specific to one author or franchise and it's probably important to let readers know that those aren't real words in any real-life language) And the italicization is so random, connoting which non-English words English speakers have incorporated into the language and which have not been and will probably not be part of English. For instance, we don't italicize tortilla or ennui or bergamot and none of those are English words but we've decided they're good enough for our use so now they're part of the English language. Other Spanish, French, and Italian words, though? Fah! Relegated to italics, despite the many many people who pepper daily conversation with a mix of all the languages they speak.

It's a pretty great video, though, isn't it?
I think I got a crush on that guy after watching it.

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