Study Guide

Inside Out & Back Again Family

By Thanhha Lai

Family

Family is a pretty big deal for any ten-year-old, but for Hà in Inside Out and Back Again, family is all she has left after the fall of her home in Vietnam. And when we say all, we really mean it. With little more than the clothes on her back, and her doll promptly winding up in the ocean after they depart, Hà basically only has her mother and brothers when she arrives in the United States. That her father's been missing since she was just a baby only heightens her awareness of the preciousness of family—his absence is felt by each of them.

Understandably, then, Hà holds tight to her family, depending upon them to help her make her way in this strange new place, and cherishing the safety and familiarity they provide. 

Questions About Family

  1. How does Hà's relationship with her brothers change over time? Who is she closest with? Why?
  2. How does her father play a part in this story? Does anything change when they decide he has died? 
  3. In what ways do friends become like family? Who is close enough to be considered family for Hà? 
  4. Would things have turned out any differently if Hà's father had returned to them? What do you think?

Chew on This

Hà's brothers might bug her, but they are ultimately the people who help her adjust to life in the United States the most.

It's fine and dandy for Hà to love her mother and brothers, but it isn’t until Mrs. Washington becomes like family to her that Hà is able to truly get her bearings in the U.S.

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