Monday, March 9, 2015

Bibliophile's Corner

Listen, Slowly
by Thanhha Lai

Amazon Description:
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.

My Thoughts:
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.


  1. This sounds like such a valuable book for young people. When I was teaching, many of my students were children of Vietnamese and Hmong refugees, and there was that generation conflict between parents who were homesick and 11-12-year-olds who wanted nothing more than to fit into being American. I'm sure, as they got older, some awareness of the importance of roots began to seep in, but books like this can help educate them.

    1. This novel WOULD be the perfect book for students in the situation you describe. It's also just so beautifully written that it would resonate with almost any reader. Have a great week, Mitty!