Award Winner- Newbery Honor Book; National Book Award Winner
Ha, her mother and three brothers leave Saigon in 1975 right before the Communist bomb it. Their father has been missing in action for years and are reluctant to leave in case he would return home.
This novel in verse reveals the events and emotions a child feels fleeing a country being ruled by evil and adjusting to a country where individuals are a mixture of kindness and insensitivity.
Ms. Lai, the author, actually experienced the events and emotions shared in this book. It is based on real events in her own life.
Expertly written so the reader feels the frustration and longing Ha experiences as she and her family adjust.
One part particularly upset me when Ha and her family attend church and are baptized so people will accept them more readily. They had no idea what they were doing. . .only if they were baptized and attended church people would be nicer to them. A sad commentary on Christians, I think.
Points to discuss: Communism, war, bullies (one child was really mean to Ha), refugees, different cultures
*Highly recommend for junior high (because of the content-see above)
-Borrowed from the library.
Guided Reading Level: U (5th grade)