Monday, March 9, 2015
by Thanhha Lai
A California girl born and raised, Mai can't wait to spend her vacation at the beach. Instead, though, she has to travel to Vietnam with her grandmother, who is going back to find out what really happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Mai's parents think this trip will be a great opportunity for their out-of-touch daughter to learn more about her culture. But to Mai, those are their roots, not her own. Vietnam is hot, smelly, and the last place she wants to be. Besides barely speaking the language, she doesn't know the geography, the local customs, or even her distant relatives. To survive her trip, Mai must find a balance between her two completely different worlds.
Once again Thanhha Lai has created a beautiful piece of literature for young readers. While her Newbery Honor book, Inside Out and Back Again was an autobiography written in verse; Listen, Slowly is a captivating novel. The character development and voice that Ms. Lai has employed in this extraordinary story are, for me, the elements that make this book so special. Right from the first few pages I was hooked on the character of Mai - a somewhat selfish young teen. Watching the slow, struggling transition of this complex protagonist was so inspiring. I highly recommend Listen, Slowly to readers aged eight to twelve.
Click here to learn more about the amazing author, Thanhha Lai.