Study Guide

Inside Out & Back Again What's Up With the Title?

By Thanhha Lai

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What's Up With the Title?

In the beginning of Inside Out and Back Again, Hà's mother visits a fortune teller called the I Ching Teller of Fate, and Hà writes that, "This year he predicts/ our lives will twist inside out" (1.2.1). In the poem, Hà guesses at what this could mean, suggesting that it is about war—she writes, "The war is coming/ closer to home" (1.2.4)—though at this point, she has no idea how close it will come, nor that she's about to leave her life behind for something totally and unimaginably new.

Once Hà and her family get settled into their new life in Alabama, though, and Hà overcomes the prejudice and bullying and loneliness and shame, she is her old self: happy, mischievous, plotting, and generally being a kid. So though Hà and her mother and brothers' lives have been turned inside out, by the end of the book, they're back again. It's not Saigon, but they've found a new normal for themselves, and they're going to be just fine.

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