Thursday, March 13, 2014

Inside Out and Back Again

Inside Out and Back AgainInside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a beautiful, beautifully written story. This is based on the author's life as a young girl in Saigon, South Vietnam, just at the end of the Vietnamese War, and takes us all the way to Alabama. Ha's father, an officer in the their navy, has been missing, and her mother is trying to keep a roof over their heads, and food on the table for her and her three brothers. As the Communist troops draw closer, they realize they have to leave. With Canada, France or the USA as their choices, the family votes on the USA. They are sponsored by a kindly man from Alabama, who has a rather unkindly wife. Ha finds herself in school, an outcast, not speaking the language, and with some very mean children to deal with.  With it's simple, sparing style, the author gives us a glimpse into this very important year in Ha's life. A very quick read, but very memorable.

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Jefferson's Sons

Jefferson's SonsJefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an interesting tale of one of our most important Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson. Yes, the man who penned the Declaration of Independence did indeed own slaves on his plantation, Monticello, in Virginia. He was also the father of Sally Hemings' children, Beverly, Harriet, Madison, and Eston. Sally Hemings was one of Jefferson's slaves. The story is told through the eyes of all four children, who have been told that they will be free when they turn 21, as promised by Jefferson to their mother. Sally tells her children that when they leave Monticello, they will "pass" as white people, and live with all the advantages of white people at that time. I'm not sure all of the historic facts are accurate, and for sure, the dialogue is not, but it is an interesting piece of historical fiction.

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