By Medha Murti
Inside Out and Back Again is a moving and adventurous story about Ha’, a Vietnamese girl living in the time of the Vietnam war. Like many others, she and her family flee their home and everything they know, after their land is deemed unsafe. Ha’ has to contend with three brothers who she realizes, are not that bad after all. In her own way, Ha’ adjusts to her new surroundings after being sponsored and taken to Alabama by a family. She meets a lot of people who hate her, some who help her and others who befriend her. Thrown into a new world of English, she cannot express herself and everything, to her, is a muddle.
Nostalgia is a competing force, and she misses her old life, especially the food and her little papaya tree. Her inability to speak English along with some other contributing factors sets her unfavorably apart from the majority of the others in her class. She becomes a wonderful target for bullies but fights them back in time. In this gripping book, the story is narrated so realistically that you find yourself feeling and experiencing everything Ha’ does. A very good story, interesting, but moving in an unwavering line with no sharp twists or turns. Open the first page and plunge in to the world of a homesick girl and her adventures and experiences.