Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
All high-achieving 12-year-old Mai wants is to hang out at home in Laguna Beach with her best friend and her crush-that-shall-not-be-named: "This is the summer I've been waiting for my whole life," she explains. Instead, she is forced to accompany her father and her grandmother (Bà) to Vietnam to determine whether her grandfather (Ong) might still be alive. (He disappeared during "THE WAR," as Mai thinks of it, and has long been presumed dead.) Mai's self-interested annoyance gives way to fascination as she becomes swept up in her Vietnamese heritage, helps find out what happened to Ong, befriends a headstrong girl named Ut, and enjoys a deepening relationship with Bà. As she did in her National Book Award-winning Inside Out & Back Again, Lai offers a memorable heroine and cultural journey-ones that are clever near-opposites of those in that book, as Lai trades verse for prose and an immigrant's story for one of a girl fully immersed in American culture. The story capably stands on its own, yet considered alongside Inside Out, it's all the more rewarding. Ages 8-12. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A trip to Vietnam did not figure in Laguna, California, girl Mai Le's summer plans!Twelve-year-old Mai (Mia at school) was looking forward to a summer at the beach with her bestie, Montana, trying to catch the eye of HIM (a boy from school), but she's forced on to a plane to keep her grandmother, B, company on a trip of indeterminate length. ng, B's husband, went missing during the Vietnam War, and a detective claims to have found a man who knows something about ng. Mai and B stay in B's home village, while Mai's doctor father heads into the mountains to run a clinic. Mai's Vietnamese is rusty, and only teenage boy Minh speaks English (but with a Texas accent). The heat, the mosquitoes...even the maybe-relatives are torture. Out of touch with all things American, Mai worries that Montana may put the moves on HIM; and the only girl in the village her age, Ut, is obsessed with frogs. For her sophomore effort, Newbery Honor author Lai delivers a funny, realistic tale of family and friendship and culture clashes. The subtle humor of clunky translations of Vietnamese into English and vice versa are a great contrast to Mai's sharp and sometimes-snarky observations that offer a window into Vietnamese village life and language. A touching tale of preteen angst and translation troubles. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
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