I just finished reading this year's Newbery Honor book INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN, and I'm still tingling. Here's the publisher's description:
For all the ten years of her life, HÀ has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by . . . and the beauty of her very own papaya tree.
But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. HÀ and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, HÀ discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape . . . and the strength of her very own family.
This is the moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next.
Thanhha Lai created a beautiful story in free verse, based partially on her own experiences fleeing Vietnam and seeking harbor in the U.S. in the 1970's. If books were food, this would be the equivalent of, well, fresh papaya. Sweet, smooth, complex, and gone too soon.
I love stories about immigrants, but this one particularly touched me. I live in an area with a large Asian population (many are attending Yale), and even now I see terrible misconceptions and stereotypes as well as blatant racism. Somehow this little subset of racism is tolerated or ignored, which is one reason why beautiful books like INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN are so important.
I very highly recommend it.
To find other MMGM posts, visit the blog of Shannon Messenger, who first put the Marvelous in Mondays. :)