When Clouds Touch Us

HarperAudio. May 2023. 217p. $27.99. ISBN 9780063047037.
Gr 3-7–“The style is called prose poems,” Lai prefaces the lyrical sequel to her 2011 National Book Award–winning debut, Inside Out & Back Again. “This is to convey what it’s like to think in Vietnamese, a naturally poetic language... I’ve kept the prose-poem voice... because Vietnamese still swirls inside Hà’s mind two years later.” Tween Hà is finally feeling settled in Alabama, where she and her brothers arrived with their mother as refugees after fleeing Vietnam. The promise of better opportunities in Texas, however, causes another reluctant uprooting. Again, Hà is “always the only Asian” as she attends her “third sixth grade/ within thirty days.” Despite relentless challenges—grueling work, cultural disconnects, always the racism—creating a lasting home together becomes a binding motivator. Vietnamese Irish American Leahy makes her aural debut as Hà’s optimal bilingual cipher, effortlessly moving between languages with youthful, hopeful vocalization.
VERDICT Libraries should prepare for significant demand in all formats.

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