Inside Out & Back Again

by Thanhha Lai

Headline Story: Inside Out & Back Again

In the beginning of the novel we meet Ha, the main character. She is a little girl who lives in Saigon, Vietnam, 1975. Ha and her family are celebrating Tet. Tet is the first day of the lunar calendar. She and her family believe that what happens during the day of Tet will predict what will happen in the coming year. On this day people have to smile, they cannot argue, they wear all new clothes even underneath and it doubles as everyone's birthday .Each year Ha's mother goes and sees a fortune teller and that year he predicts that their lives will turn inside out. Also on Tet, the oldest man in the house gets up first and blesses the house. Ha only lives with her mother and her older brothers. Her dad left on a Navy mission when Ha was almost one year old. He was captured and has been missing ever since. So her oldest brother is responsible for blessing the house. Ha was jealous, and she wakes up first on Tet and touches her big toe to the floor first because she did not think it was fair that her big brother got to get up, touch the floor first and bless the house.

Life gets hard for Ha and her family; they don't have much money and as a family they decide to leave Vietnam. They board a boat along with lots of other people who are escaping the war in Vietnam. On board they are scared of what might happen if the Communists find that they have escaped. There is very little space and they have to stay together. The motor on the boat quits and the boat is floating in the water with no engine. An American ship shows up and tows the boat Ha and her family are on. The people on the American ship gave them more food and water. Then they arrive in Guam and live in a tent city. While living in tent city they had to learn English, they watched movies outdoors, and they went swimming. Her family almost chose Paris but instead they went to America. When they arrived in America they found themselves in another tent city in Florida. Before each family could leave tent city they had to have a sponsor. Ha's family found their sponsor, a Cowboy from Alabama.

In Alabama Ha's family has to learn a lot of new things. Such as, going to school, eating new food's, and making new friends. Life in Alabama settles down, Ha's mother gets a job in a factory, her brother gets a job repairing cars, and the rest of them go to school. Ha did not like school; the kids made fun of her. The pink boy plucked one of Ha's arm hairs off because she was different. Ha's mother wrote a letter to her father's family in Vietnam. When they get a letter back they realize that her father is not coming back. Later, the family begin to prepare for Tet. 1976 is the year of the Dragon and there is no fortune teller. Ha's mother predicts their year will twist old and new together so they will blend.


by Gabrielle Royal

I liked Inside Out & Back Again because I learned about the Vietnam war. I also learned about what the people went through and how the hard things they went through made them stronger. I think other people should read this book because they could learn about history and about what some of the Vietnamese had to go through.

Who are the characters in this book?


Missing Person

Ha's father left on a navy mission on March 10th, nine years ago.He was captured an hour south of the city. The things he liked were stewed eels, pate chaud pastries, and his children. The things ha did not like were the afternoon sun, the color brown, and cold rice.if you have information about Ha's father please contact Ha's family.


One Papaya Tree to provide juicy fruit for a needy family.

Please call I luv papaya or (458)872-7292.

One doll for a little girl who lost hers when traveling.

Please call Ha's new doll at (427)639-3655.

For Sale:

Sets of new clothes for Tet only $25.00.

All sizes for boys and girls.

Contact Ha's mother at new clothes or (639)256-8437.

Who is Thanhha Lai?

Thanhha Lai was born in Saigon, Vietnam. When she was ten years old she and her family had to leave Vietnam due to war. She and her family settled in Montgomery, Alabama in 1975. Now she lives north of New York City. In 2011 she published the book Inside Out & Back Again. This book has received the Newberry Honor and a National Book Award. The idea for this story came from her own experiences as a young girl. Through reading this book she wants the reader to learn more about your own family.