Monday, January 23, 2012

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

"They pulled my arm hair.
They threw rocks at me.
They promised to stomp on my chest."

Imagine that your father was taken prisoner years ago and has never returned. You live with your mother and brothers, in the shadow of a war, always hoping for his return. When the war does reach your home, you flee on a ship at a moment's notice and find safety in a refugee camp. Soon you learn that you have a sponsor in the United States of America—in a place called Alabama. You show up ready to begin a new life and instead of being met with kindness you are bullied, harassed, and humiliated. This is Há's story—a remarkable year in the life of a 10-year-old girl from Vietnam. It is also semi-autobiographical so you know that many of Há's experiences are grounded in the author's own childhood. It is beautifully written in free verse and is full of language to savor. It won the National Book Award and was named a Newbery Honor Book today.

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