Monday, June 9, 2014

Literary Tourism - Georgia and Alabama

Traveling to the South, I've picked two books similar in theme.  Both of these books deal with Asian families who have immigrated to the South.  It's a good setting because issues of race are so prevalent in southern culture.  The books  are distinctly different however because Japanese and Vietnamese culture are not one and the same, and the families portrayed in the stories are dealing with different challenges.


Kira Kira by Cynthia Kadohata - Katie and her family are Japanese and move from a Japanese community to the deep south in Georgia.  Katie has a hard time getting used to all of the people staring at her and it is a difficult adjustment for them.  I read this book a few years ago so the details are a bit fuzzy, but the book did give a good sense of place.  I got annoyed at eh character Katie because she always said she was a bad girl, but she never did anything to prove it.


"Don't take my word for it."*
 Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai - I'm a total sucker for a novel in verse so I loved this book, I actually reread this one so I could write a better review.  The book starts in Saigon just before it is taken over by North Vietnam communists.  Ha and her family escape to a boat are taken to Guam and are eventually sponsored by a family in Alabama.

Ha barely speaks English and encounters many new experiences - fried chicken, Christmas, and kids at school with many different skin tones.  She is bullied for her different looks and considered dumb because she hasn't mastered English grammar.

Lai writes based on her own personal experience as a refugee in Alabama which makes this book and her impressions even more authentic.  She is truly a poet and can give a great sense of place in just a few words.  If you like novels in verse I strongly recommend this book.   

*I was told my book reviews would be a lot more interesting with pictures of Joshua.

1 comment:

Jen said...

So fun seeing Joshua helping you with your review!