I'm a huge fan of verse novels, and they're a great way to introduce yourself to reading more poetry! We were very kindly asked to participate in VerseDay 2013, a year-long celebration of all things poetry! VerseDay is sponsored by Gabrielle Prendergast over at VerseNovels.com. If you'd like to participate or learn more about VerseDay2013, check out the VerseDay page. Without further ado, here's my review of a fantastic verse novel that won the National Book Award and was a Newbery Honor Book as well. Enjoy!
Title: Inside Out & Back Again
Author: Thanhha Lai
Publication Date: February 22, 2011
AR Levels: Book Level: 4.8; Interest Level: 4th-6th grades; Points: 2.0
Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8537327-inside-out-back-again
In a nutshell: Ha lives in Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War. She leads a simple life that she loves even in the midst of a war-torn nation, but the Communists are coming to take her city, and she and her mother and three brothers must board a ship and flee to America. After weeks on a ship and in a camp in Guam, her family is sponsored by a man from Alabama to start a new life in the Deep South, which feels like a whole other world.
I'd recommend it for grades: 3rd to 6th
I'd recommend it to: historical fiction lovers, poetry fans, and anyone who's ever felt out of place or longed for home
What I liked most about this book: The language and writing style are so believably age-appropriate and yet beautiful and wise beyond her years. It's mostly based on the author's own life, so it has that added authenticity to it. This is another one of those books that just the right amount of sadness and humor. Also, I don't comment much on book covers on our blog, but this one cannot go unnoticed. Is that gorgeous or what?!
Single favorite moment (without getting spoiler-y): Ha has a somewhat difficult time learning English because there are so many exceptions to the rules, and she gets frustrated. She learns that to make something plural, you add an "s" or "es" to it, and so she feels like a snake always hissing English words. As we all know though, there are so many exceptions to that rule, and this annoys her. She comments, "Whoever invented English should be bitten by a snake." Such poetic justice haha. There's also a hilarious part where her family eats fried chicken for the first time! You'll have to read that to see for yourself. ;)
Star rating (where 5 stars is awesome and 0 stars is atrocious): 5 stars!