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Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted here at GreenBeanTeenQueen to highlight great reads for tweens!

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Historical/Novel in Verse

Release Date: 2/22/11

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About the Book: It's 1975 in Vietnam and ten-year-old Kim Ha and her family are praying for her father's safe return. He's been missing for the past nine year and war rages on around them. When the opportunity arises for the family to leave Saigon on a navy ship and come to America, the family decides to take the chance and hopes for a better life.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: Inside Out and Back Again is a beautifully written novel in verse debut. The book is partly based on the author's own experience as a child, and it's clear she's writing what she knows and cares deeply about her story.

Kim is a strong, brave character who has a lot of spunk and a great voice to her narration. Her transition to America isn't easy. In Vietnam, she was smart and had friends, whereas in America she is taunted and teased and feels dumb because she doesn't know the language. But she doesn't let that stop her, which I loved about her. She stands up for herself and she was a character you couldn't help but like.

The verse format works well. The verse might be sparse but it fills out the novel in a way that gives us a meaty story. The author also balances characterization with description and we get a good amount of both without ever feeling like one is lacking.

Inside Out and Back Again is getting some early Newbery buzz and deservedly so-it's a touching and memorable debut and well done in verse format.

Book Pairings: Not tween at all, but this book reminded me a lot of Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok and could work well for a parent/tween discussion-adult reads the adult book and tween reads the tween novel and they can discuss the themes in both. It could also pair well with All the Broken Pieces by Ann Burg (another novel in verse featuring a Vietnamese character)

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from ARC copy sent by publisher


  1. Love a strong female character! I will be looking for this one!

  2. Sounds like a great read. Getting it for my daughter.

  3. I struggle with reading books in verse, but I do enjoy good historical fiction so I may have to give it a try.

  4. I didn’t realize INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN was a novel in verse. My friend Beverly has been wanting to read it.

    Today I’m sharing a link to my review of Mary Amato’s newest novel. EDGAR ALLAN’S OFFICIAL CRIME INVESTIGATION NOTEBOOK isn’t written in verse, but poetry is important to the story.

  5. We're reading twins again! I read it over the weekend and LOVED it. So touching. I agree with your pairing. I would also suggest pairing it with The Wednesday Wars. My book is checked out of the library, but my hazy memory tells me that there was a Vietnamese child who was not treated very nicely. I could be misremembering the story though.

    I usually read your blog in my feeder. What's the Mr. Linky for?


  6. Brenda-The Mr. Linky is for other posts joining in on Tween Tuesday to link their reviews. I forgot to mention that this week!:)

    Karen-Let me know what you think!

    Robyn-I hope she loves it!

    Jessi-I really like novels in verse, but they have to be done well and I think there has to be a reason it's in verse. It works for this book because it really lets you see what it was like for the character to move, change lives, etc.

    Penny-I didn't realize it was in verse until I opened it up!:)

    Jana-You're welcome!

  7. I'm still working on this one on the Nook. I'm glad it's getting so many good reviews!


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