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Author: Lai, Thanhha
In the final days of the Vietnam war, Hang takes her little brother, Linh to the airport, determined to find a way to safety in America. When Linh is ripped from her arms she is left behind in the war-torn country. Six years later she makes the brutal journey to Texas as a refugee. She's overjoyed when she is reunited with Linh but crushed when she discovers he doesn't remember her or their family. Hang has come so far that she will do anything to bridge the gap.
Kirkus Reviews (+) (07/01/19)
School Library Journal (07/01/19)
Booklist (+) (07/01/19)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (00/09/19)
The Hornbook (00/09/19)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 07/01/2019 Gr 9 Up–After the fall of Saigon during the Vietnam War, hundreds of children were airlifted from Vietnam to the United States. Hang saw to it that her three-year-old brother Linh was one of these children, though at the airport she's shocked to discover she's too old to accompany him. Six years later, 18-year-old Hang arrives in Texas, where her uncle and his family live, carrying an address, the only connection she has to her brother. Although her uncle promises that he will take her to the address in Amarillo, she cannot wait. She catches a bus and eventually a ride with LeeRoy, who is headed to Amarillo to meet his rodeo hero. When they arrive, Linh does not remember her and wants nothing to do with her. LeeRoy and Hang get jobs at a neighboring ranch where she tries to connect with her brother and LeeRoy tries to learn how to be a cowboy. Hang and LeeRoy, as well as the other main characters, have complex personalities that often clash. Hang's English dialogue, written in Vietnamese syllables, has to be sounded out by readers and can be difficult to interpret, though it becomes clearer when LeeRoy repeats what she says. The plot has a nice blend of external and internal action although some knowledge of the Vietnam War would make for better understanding of Hang's trauma. VERDICT While this is not Lai's strongest book, the universal truths about the lingering aftermath of war make it one that will find readers.—Janet Hilbun, University of North Texas, Denton - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 07/01/2019 *Starred Review* As she did in the Newbery Honor– and National Book Award–winning Inside Out and Back Again (2011), Lai tells the story of a Vietnamese refugee. Here the girl is 18-year-old Hang, who carries several secrets as she makes the perilous journey to family in Texas. One: in the waning days of the war, Hang handed over her five-year-old brother, Linh, at an airlift. Almost immediately, the 11-year-old realized her plan for both of them to be taken, with her unknowing parents to somehow follow, was stupid. Then her father dies, and her mother and grandmother spend the next six years planning to retrieve Linh. But when Hang does find Linh, now David, he has no desire for a relationship. Simultaneously, the story of LeeRoy is told: a well-to-do kid with dreams of becoming a cowboy, he becomes entangled with Hang and her family, forcing him to look outside his narrow desires. Hang’s other secret is brilliantly and painfully disclosed, and throughout, the use of the Vietnamese language enhances the reality. There are a few hiccups in the plot that might pull readers out of the story, but Lai’s beautiful storytelling quickly draws them back in. Her imagery awakens the senses, whether describing an earthmover as a “parched giraffe made of metal,” or depicting the varying sweetness of Vietnamese fruit. Most powerful is the deep throb of regret and the thinnest wisps of hopefulness that Lai conveys throughout. They touch the soul. - Copyright 2019 Booklist.