Study Guide

Inside Out & Back Again Writing Style

By Thanhha Lai

Writing Style

Personal and Simple

Personal

Inside Out and Back Again is a novel in verse, meaning it has a plot but it's written as a bunch of short poems. As far as these poems go, though, don't think they're going to be flowery and abstract—instead, in this book, they come together to read like a personal journal or diary that the main character, Hà, carries around with her. There are even dates under each poem, and the poems talk quite frankly about her life, and include private thoughts and feelings, the kind people write in a diary that no one is supposed to read. Check out this entry:

Wishes I keep to myself:

Wish I could do what boys do
[…]
Wish I could stay calm…
(1.15.1)

This poem even has the words "I keep to myself" in it, making it crystal clear that we are in very personal territory when it comes to what's being written in this book.

Simple

Hà is the person writing this book, and at the ripe old age of ten, her language is pretty simple.
She uses very short sentences with basic language and images, and there are not a lot of details or descriptions, or even much dialogue. Mostly, the whole book is made up of Hà's thoughts and observations and actions, told through simple poems featuring short lines, short stanzas, and short words.

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