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by Thanhha Lai

illustrated by Thanhha Lai


School Library Journal:

/* Starred Review */ Gr 4 – 6 — A story based on the author’s childhood experiences. Hà is 10 when Saigon falls and her family flees Vietnam. First on a ship, then in two refugee camps, and then finally in Alabama, she and her family struggle to fit in and make a home. As Hà deals with leaving behind all that is familiar, she tries to contain her temper, especially in the face of school bullies and the inconsistencies of the English language. She misses her papaya tree, and her family worries about friends and family remaining in Vietnam, especially her father, who was captured by Communist forces several years earlier. Told in verse, each passage is given a date so readers can easily follow the progression of time. Sensory language describing the rich smells and tastes of Vietnam draws readers in and contrasts with Hà’s perceptions of bland American food, and the immediacy of the narrative will appeal to those who do not usually enjoy historical fiction. Even through her frustration with her new life and the annoyances of her three older brothers, her voice is full of humor and hope.—Jennifer Rothschild, Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, Oxon Hill, MD –Jennifer Rothschild (Reviewed March 1, 2011) (School Library Journal, vol 57, issue 3, p164)


  • ALA Notable Children’s Books – Middle Readers Category: 2012
  • Booklist Editors’ Choice – Books for Youth – Middle Readers Category: 2011
  • National Book  Awards: Young People’s Literature
  • School Library Journal Best Books: 2011


4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, Ages 9-12, Identity, Loss