Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Recommended by Alice Visser (@AVisserFuray)

Form and genre: verse novel, historical fiction

Length: 260 pages

Summary: This is a powerful and profound verse novel set in Saigon and Alabama, using a diary format to explore the refugee experience from the point of view of 10 year old Ha who is ripped away from everything she loves. Shows empathy, resilience & a sense of humour.

Age recommendation and challenging content: Year 7 or 8.

Notable reasons for recommending this book: Time is often short in the English classroom making it difficult to fully engage with longer novels. This verse novel is short but rich with imagery. It breaks stereotypes about refugees and is inspired by the author’s experiences as a refugee. It shows prejudice and helps teach empathy.

Other useful information: It would be good to provide historical context for the novel. This could be linked to a poetry-writing unit, and there are tips from Thanhha Lai aboout writing poetry at the end of the book.