Inside Out and Back Again

by

Thanhhà Lai

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Kim Hà Character Analysis

The protagonist of the novel, Hà is a 10-year-old Vietnamese girl. She lives with Mother and her three older brothers, Brother Quang, Brother Vū, and Brother Khôi, on the outskirts of Saigon in South Vietnam. She has never known her father, who has been missing in action since she was a baby. Hà is headstrong and finds her brothers extremely annoying. However, she adores Mother—Brother Khôi refers to her as “Mother’s tail.” Mother does her best to encourage Hà to not take her brothers’ taunts seriously and to try to be well-behaved and appropriately feminine, but Hà struggles with this. On Tet (the lunar new year), for instance, Brother Quang is supposed to be the first to bless the house because he’s the oldest male in the family, but Hà sneakily beats him to it. Hà is extremely fond of Vietnamese sweets and native fruits, particularly papaya. When Mother sends her to shop in the market, Hà sneakily purchases a little bit less of everything Mother asks for so she can afford a treat. At home, Hà loves watching her beloved papaya tree grow and produce fruit. Hà’s family is forced to leave Vietnam to escape the approaching Communist army, and Hà struggles with the move to suburban Alabama. Hà doesn’t speak English, which makes her feel “dumb” at her new school—even though she was among the top of her class in Vietnam. To escape bullying, Hà hides in the bathroom during lunch and recess and refuses to look at anyone. Things start to get better for Hà when she meets her neighbor, MiSSSisss WaSShington, who begins tutoring Hà. MiSSSisss WaSShington helps Hà make friends (like Pem and SSsì-Ti-Vân), makes Hà bagged lunches, and steps in at school when the bullying intensifies. Hà also asks Brother Vū to teach her martial arts so she can fight back. But when Hà finally gets the opportunity to hurt her biggest bully, Pink Boy, she finds she doesn’t like seeing him confused and afraid. Following this, Hà confesses to Mother about purchasing sweets and blessing the house before Brother Quan—but Mother assures Hà she’s done nothing wrong and encourages her to see that coming to Alabama was a lucky thing that happened to the family. The novel ends with Hà feeling more secure in her place in Alabama, in her family, and in her schooling.

Kim Hà Quotes in Inside Out and Back Again

The Inside Out and Back Again quotes below are all either spoken by Kim Hà or refer to Kim Hà. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
War, Childhood, and Maturity Theme Icon
).
Part 1: Saigon Quotes

They’re heading to Vūng Tau,
he says,
where the rich go
to flee Vietnam
on cruise ships.

I’m glad we’ve become poor
so we can stay.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Brother Khôi (speaker), TiTi
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

Mother says
if the price of eggs
were not the price of rice,
and the price of rice
were not the price of gasoline,
and the price of gasoline
were not the price of gold,
then of course
Brother Khôi
could continue hatching eggs.

She’s sorry.

Related Characters: Mother (speaker), Brother Khôi, Kim Hà
Page Number: 16-17
Explanation and Analysis:

Sometimes I whisper
tuyet sút to myself
to pretend
I know him.

I would never say tuyet sút
in front of Mother.
None of us would want
to make her sadder
than she already is.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Mother, Father
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:

Like magic a crepe forms
to be filled with shrimp
and eaten with
cucumber and bean sprouts.

It tastes even better
than it looks.
While my mouth is full,
the noises of the market
silence themselves,
letting me and my bánh cuon
float.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Mother
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

Five papayas
the sizes of
my head,
a knee,
two elbows,
and a thumb
cling to the trunk.

Still green
but promising.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Mother, Uncle Son
Related Symbols: Papaya
Page Number: 41
Explanation and Analysis:

I am proud
of my ability
to save
until I see
tears
in Mother’s
deep eyes.

You deserve to grow up
where you don’t worry about
saving half a bite
of sweet potato.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Mother (speaker)
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:

Mother says yellow papaya
tastes lovely
dipped in chili salt.
You children should eat
fresh fruit
while you can.

Brother Vū chops;
the head falls;
a silver blade slices.

Black seeds spill
like clusters of eyes,
wet and crying.

Related Characters: Mother (speaker), Kim Hà (speaker), Brother Vū/Vu Lee
Related Symbols: Papaya
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: At Sea Quotes

The first hot bite
of freshly cooked rice,
plump and nutty,
makes me imagine
the taste of ripe papaya
although one has nothing
to do with the other.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker)
Related Symbols: Papaya
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

Brother Khôi nods
and I smile,
but I regret
not having my doll
as soon as the white bundle
sinks into the sea.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Brother Khôi
Related Symbols: Dolls
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

I have never seen her
without this purple rock.
I can’t fall asleep
unless I twist the ring
and count circles.

Brother Quang says,
NO!
What’s the point of
new shirts and sandals
if you lose the last
tangible remnant of love?

I don’t understand
what he said
but I agree.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Brother Quang (speaker), Mother, Father
Related Symbols: The Amethyst Ring
Page Number: 103-04
Explanation and Analysis:

Then by chance Mother learns
sponsors prefer those
whose applications say “Christians.”

Just like that
Mother amends our faith,
saying all beliefs
are pretty much the same.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Mother, The Cowboy, The Cowboy’s Wife
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3: Alabama Quotes

I bite down on a thigh;
might as well bite down on
bread soaked in water.

Still,
I force yum-yum sounds.

I hope to ride
the horse our cowboy
surely has.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), The Cowboy
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:

No, Mr. Johnston
doesn’t have a horse,
nor has he ever ridden one.

What kind of a cowboy is he?

To make it worse,
the cowboy explains
horses here go
neigh, neigh, neigh,
not hee, hee, hee.

No they don’t.

Where am I?

Related Characters: Brother Quang (speaker), Kim Hà (speaker), The Cowboy
Page Number: 134
Explanation and Analysis:

I tap my own chest:
.

She must have heard
ha,
as in funny ha-ha-ha.

She fakes a laugh.

I repeat, ,
and wish I knew
enough English
to tell her
to listen for
the diacritical mark,
this one directing
the tone
downward.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), MiSSS SScott
Page Number: 140-41
Explanation and Analysis:

On one side
of the bright, noisy room,
light skin.
Other side,
dark skin.

Both laughing, chewing,
as if it never occurred
to them
someone medium
would show up.

I don’t know where to sit
any more than
I know how to eat
the pink sausage
snuggled inside bread
shaped like a corncob,
smeared with sauces
yellow and red.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker)
Page Number: 143-44
Explanation and Analysis:

I shout, I’m so mad.
I shouldn’t have to run away.

Tears come.

Brother Vū
has always been afraid
of my tears.
I’ll teach you defense.

How will that help me?

He smiles huge,
so certain of himself.
You’ll see.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Brother Vū/Vu Lee (speaker), Pink Boy
Page Number: 152-53
Explanation and Analysis:

I’m furious,
unable to explain
I already learned
fractions
and how to purify
river water.

So this is
what dumb
feels like.

I hate, hate, hate it.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), MiSSS SScott
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:

She makes me learn rules
I’ve never noticed,
like a, an, and the,
which act as little megaphones
to tell the world
whose English
is still secondhand.

[…]

A, an, and the
do not exist in Vietnamese
and we understand
each other just fine.

I pout,
but MiSSS WaSShington says
every language has annoyances and illogical rules,
as well as sensible beauty.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), MiSSSisss WaSShington
Page Number: 166-67
Explanation and Analysis:

I try
but can’t fall asleep,
needing amethyst-ring twirls
and her lavender scent.

I’m not as good as Mother
at making do.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Mother
Related Symbols: The Amethyst Ring
Page Number: 174
Explanation and Analysis:

Things will get better,
just you wait.

I don’t believe her
but it feels good
that someone knows.

Related Characters: MiSSSisss WaSShington (speaker), Kim Hà (speaker), MiSSS SScott
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:

No one would believe me
but at times
I would choose
wartime in Saigon
over
peacetime in Alabama.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), MiSSS SScott
Page Number: 194-95
Explanation and Analysis:

I thought I would love
seeing him in pain.

But
he looks
more defeated than weak,
more helpless than scared,
like a caged puppy.

He’s getting up.

If I were to kick him,
it must be
now.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Pink Boy, Brother Vū/Vu Lee
Page Number: 225-27
Explanation and Analysis:

Yet
on the dining table
on a plate
sit strips of papaya
gooey and damp,
having been soaked in hot water.

The sugar has melted off
leaving
plump
moist
chewy
bites.

Hummm…

Not the same,
but not bad
at all.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Mother, MiSSSisss WaSShington
Related Symbols: Papaya
Page Number: 234
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 4: From Now On Quotes

I tell her
a much worse embarrassment
is not having
a gift for Pem.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Mother, Pem/Pam, TiTi
Related Symbols: Dolls
Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:

chanting.

The chant is long,
the voice
low and sure.

Finally
she appears,
looks at each of us.

Your father is
truly gone.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Mother (speaker), Father
Related Symbols: The Amethyst Ring
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:

This Tet
there’s no I Ching Teller of Fate,
so Mother predicts our year.

Our lives
will twist and twist,
intermingling the old and new
until it doesn’t matter
which is which.

Related Characters: Kim Hà (speaker), Mother
Page Number: 257
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Inside Out and Back Again LitChart as a printable PDF.
Inside Out and Back Again PDF

Kim Hà Character Timeline in Inside Out and Back Again

The timeline below shows where the character Kim Hà appears in Inside Out and Back Again. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Saigon
Family and Grief Theme Icon
Culture, Food, and Tradition Theme Icon
...sweep hope away or “splash away joy.” Everyone celebrates their birthday today, so now the narrator is 10. As a 10-year-old, she can learn embroidery and can watch her papaya tree... (full context)
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...Out. Every new year, Mother visits a fortuneteller. This year, the fortuneteller predicted that the narrator’s family’s lives will “twist inside out.” The narrator wonders if this means that the soldiers... (full context)
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Kim . The narrator introduces herself as . Brother Quang remembers that the first time he saw... (full context)
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Papaya Tree. ’s papaya tree grew from a black seed. Now, it’s twice as tall as . Brother... (full context)
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TiTi Waves Good-bye. It’s now early March, and watches as her best friend TiTi sobs in the car next to her two brothers.... (full context)
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Missing in Action. explains that nine years ago on this day, March 10, Father left on a navy... (full context)
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...years ago, she had enough money to think about buying a car. On the weekends, accompanies Mother to the market, where Mother drops off new garments and collects profits from... (full context)
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...turn, Brother Khôi puts his egg under a lamp in the hopes it will hatch. knows she should support her “most tolerable brother,” but she loves dipping bread in a... (full context)
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Feel Smart. has afternoon and Saturday classes this year. Since she has the mornings free, Mother sends... (full context)
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Two More Papayas. At the beginning of April, spots two more papayas on her tree. They’re “Two green thumbs” that by summer will... (full context)
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Unknown Father. All knows about Father comes from the little things that Mother occasionally slips into conversation. He... (full context)
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...north to accept a medal. Apparently, the pilot has been a Communist spy for years. doesn’t understand—the Communists captured Father, so why would a pilot work with them? Brother Quang... (full context)
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Birthday. Since is the youngest in the family, she gets to celebrate her actual birthday. She usually... (full context)
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...story, Mother closes her eyes. Her eyes are like no one else’s: they’re almond-shaped, like ’s, but they’re deeper like Westerners’. has always wanted her mother’s eyes, but Mother encourages... (full context)
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Birthday Wishes. Later that night, makes secret wishes. She wishes she could be like the boys and get a tan... (full context)
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...in the spring, President Thieu puts on a long ceremony for “war wives.” Mother takes to the ceremony because after President Thieu is done talking about winning the war, democracy,... (full context)
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Soon, hears the noise and bustle of downtown. She and Mother stop at an open market,... (full context)
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...dry.” But Mother smiles and says they can mix the rice with yam and manioc. knows how the poor eat; Mother isn’t fooling her. (full context)
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...on President Ford, a siren goes off. This signals that school is closed—a month early. is so mad that she pinches her desk mate, Tram, who’s tiny and nervous. Mother... (full context)
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...There are now five papayas on the tree. Some of them are as big as ’s head; others are as big as a knee or her thumb. They’re all green, but... (full context)
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Bridge to the Sea. Father’s best friend, Uncle Son, visits ’s family. He’s short and always smiles, unlike Father, who was tall and serious. Sometimes, when... (full context)
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...if Father comes back and they’re gone. Brother Vū says they have to go, but knows he just wants to go to where Bruce Lee lived. Mother’s eyebrows twist as... (full context)
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Sssshhhhhhh. Just before dawn on April 18, Brother Khôi shakes awake and leads her to the back garden. He shows her a tiny, fuzzy, just-hatched... (full context)
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Quiet Decision. The next evening, helps Mother peel sweet potatoes to mix with the rice. As she goes to chop... (full context)
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Early Monsoon. ’s family pretends that the monsoon came early. They can hear bombs, which sound like thunder;... (full context)
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The President Resigns. watches the TV. On it, President Thieu looks shockingly “sad and yellow.” He cries and... (full context)
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...He also says they can’t tell anyone, or everyone in Saigon will storm the port. explains that Uncle Son and Father were in the same graduating navy class, and it’s... (full context)
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...can’t stand hurting anyone. Mother tells him that he can make Father proud by obeying. looks at her toes, but she knows her brother is staring at her. Finally, though,... (full context)
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...in their packs. For their last item, it’s their choice what they want to bring. chooses her doll. She once let a neighbor borrow the doll, and the neighbor left... (full context)
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...Lee. Brother Khôi leaves behind the glass jars in which he raised fighting fish, and leaves her hammock. Mother chooses 10 family photographs and burns the rest—they can’t leave any... (full context)
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Wet and Crying. ’s biggest papaya is light yellow flecked with green. Brother Vū wants to cut it down... (full context)
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Sour Backs. When and her family get to the port on the afternoon of April 29, they realize... (full context)
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One Mat Each. ’s family boards a ship and settles on two straw mats below deck. But by sunset,... (full context)
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In the Dark. Uncle Son appears and leads Mother, , and ’s brothers off the ship. Apparently the next ship over is better equipped with... (full context)
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Saigon Is Gone. listens to Mother’s swishing fan, whispering adults, and faraway bombs. The commander told everyone to... (full context)
Part 2: At Sea
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...ship crawls along the river. Passengers are supposed to severely limit their water intake, but struggles to comply. Mother sighs, and doesn’t blame her. It can’t be easy having... (full context)
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S-l-o-w-l-y. Very slowly, nibbles the final bit of cooked rice from her pack. It’s hard and moldy on... (full context)
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Rations. It’s now May 3, and has been at sea for three days. Finally, the ship hits the sea and heads... (full context)
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...children to be idle. After a week at sea, Brother Quang starts teaching English lessons. wishes he’d stick to simple, useful phrases, but when there’s no adult watching, he tells... (full context)
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Mother insists that when isn’t in class, she stay within eyesight—which makes feel like a baby. Eventually, Mother... (full context)
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Once Knew. It’s now May 12. With so much water everywhere, starts to think that land is just something she once knew. She also once knew... (full context)
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Last Respects. has now been at sea two weeks. The commander calls everyone above deck to formally... (full context)
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One Engine. The ship stops in the middle of the night. Mother hugs close and won’t let her go. They’re terrified: it’ll be much worse if the Communists... (full context)
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...deck belongs to women. They form lines to take sponge baths and use the bathrooms. always stands with Mother, and every night, Mother points to the moon and observes that... (full context)
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...huge American ship nearby, with men in white uniforms waving and smiling. The commander of ’s ship is now in his fancy navy uniform, and realizes why she likes him:... (full context)
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...ships draw so close together that they look like they’re kissing. Sailors pass boxes to ’s ship. They contain food: fruit, bubbly drinks, and chocolate drops. Then, the American ship tows... (full context)
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Golden Fuzz. When a black dot appears in the distance, and the other passengers are instructed to pack their bags and line up. Groups of... (full context)
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Tent City. and the other passengers are now on an island called Guam. Nobody except Brother Quang... (full context)
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...swimming instead. Girls flock to watch Disney cartoons, and they surround Brother Vū as well. listens to the girls beg Brother Vū to break more wood as she goes to... (full context)
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...they can get a cup. Since Brother Vū hands the fish sauce out in teacups, once takes a gulp of fish sauce thinking it’s tea. Even though her breath smells... (full context)
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...her from America, where he trained in the navy, and buy needles, thread, and sandals. has never seen Mother without the ring, and she has to twirl it around Mother’s... (full context)
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Another Tent City. and her family fly to another tent city in Florida. There, the organizers bring in... (full context)
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Our Cowboy. To , the sponsor “looks just like / an American should.” He’s tall, with a big belly,... (full context)
Part 3: Alabama
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Unpack and Repack. Days later, and her family members are giddy as they get off the plane in Alabama. Their... (full context)
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English Above All. and her family spend all their time in the cowboy’s basement, where they don’t see... (full context)
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...you’re talking about multiple things—even if there’s already an s there. So, glass becomes glasses. spends her day practicing her hissing. She figures that the person who invented English probably... (full context)
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...most food wrapped in plastic or canned. Any meat comes chopped up and frozen. Mostly, ’s family lives on rice, soy sauce, and canned corn. But today, the cowboy brings fried... (full context)
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Out the Too-High Window. Out the window, can see that every house has a bright green yard. All the houses have big... (full context)
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Second Rule. learns to add an s to verbs when one person performs the action in the... (full context)
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American Address. The cowboy finds ’s family a house on Princess Anne Road and pays three months’ rent. Mother can’t believe... (full context)
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inspects the house. There are two bedrooms and a washing machine—nobody here will do laundry... (full context)
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...word to his brother, this will be the first Father’s brother hears of Father’s disappearance. shivers with hope. (full context)
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...an s when they become plural. There’s one deer, and there are also two deer. asks why deer doesn’t get an s but monkey does. According to Brother Quang, nobody... (full context)
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Passing Time. Since staring at the grass and trees doesn’t do anything, studies the dictionary. She looks up Jane, which isn’t listed. Sees means “to eyeball something,”... (full context)
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Neigh Not Hee. Since Brother Quang is tired of translating, the cowboy takes to register for school. figures he’ll let her ride his horse. She starts to... (full context)
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On the walk home, works up her courage and asks the cowboy, “You, hor-ssssse? / Hee, hee, hee. /... (full context)
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...simply tells him, “College.” Brother Khôi gets a bike, but Mother insists that even though is the oldest kid in the fourth grade, she isn’t old enough for one. Mother... (full context)
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Sadder Laugh. wakes up on the first day of school with dragonflies in her belly and eats... (full context)
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Rainbow. stands in front of the class while MiSSS SScott speaks. Each student says something, but... (full context)
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Black and White and Yellow and Red. When the bell rings, follows her classmates to line up and walk down the hallway. She takes a tray... (full context)
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Loud Outside. When the bell rings again, follows her classmates outside. All the kids of all colors surround , shouting and pushing.... (full context)
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Laugh Back. The pink boy and two of his loud friends follow home. To help her walk faster (she doesn’t want to run), counts her steps... (full context)
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Quiet Inside. When gets home, Brother Khôi is there, sitting silently. joins him, and they shell peanuts... (full context)
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Fly Kick. sneaks into her brothers’ room and shakes Brother Vū awake. Outside, she tells him that... (full context)
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asks Brother Vū why he was whistling earlier. Brother Vū explains that someone called him... (full context)
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Chin Nod. When is halfway down the block the next morning, she hears Brother Khôi’s bicycle. He pats... (full context)
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Feel Dumb. MiSSS SScott points to and then to the English alphabet. recites the alphabet, and then MiSSS SScott motions... (full context)
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Wishes. wishes that Brother Khôi wouldn’t stay silent about what he goes through every day, that... (full context)
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Hiding. These days, Brother Vū makes everyone call him Vu Lee. has to say it without giggling in order to get her defense lessons. At school,... (full context)
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Neighbors. When someone throws eggs at ’s front door, the cowboy says it’s “Just dumb kids.” He says the same when people... (full context)
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...out that MiSSSisss WaSShington is a widow and a retired teacher. She volunteers to tutor and her brothers. will visit right after school, but she’s afraid to tell the... (full context)
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New Word a Day. MiSSSisss WaSShington has rules of her own. Every day, she makes memorize a word and practice it 10 times. Every time remembers a word, MiSSSisss... (full context)
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More Is Not Better. Now, understands when kids shout “ha-ha-ha” to make fun of her name, or when they ask... (full context)
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...be more polite if the family agrees to something at the local Baptist church. When and her family arrive at the church, the cowboy and his wife (who isn’t smiling)... (full context)
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watches her brothers “get[] dipped,” and then it’s her turn. Mother says nothing, even though... (full context)
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...taps her nails on the table to signal she wants to be alone to chant, goes to their bedroom. However, she continues to listen to Mother as she chants. The... (full context)
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When Mother comes in, she turns away from ; she wants to be alone longer. sniffs quietly for lavender as Mother sighs and... (full context)
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...if a k might make more sense. Similarly, y and e are sort of interchangeable. thinks that whoever invented English should’ve learned to spell. (full context)
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...live catfish the best, and it tasted wonderful when Vu Lee cooked it. Now, since and her family were dipped at church, the cowboy brings gifts more often. Vu Lee... (full context)
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Someone Knows. Today, learns the word delicious. MiSSSisss WaSShington asks if ’s lunch was delicious. She waits patiently... (full context)
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admits she always eats in the bathroom, but she can’t explain why. She doesn’t know... (full context)
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Most Relieved Day. stays in class during lunch the next day, and MiSSS SScott only nods. This is... (full context)
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Smart Again. Pink Boy is at the board, struggling to multiply 18 by 42. goes to the board and works it out quickly. She smiles—until she sees the horrified... (full context)
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Hair. One day, a girl with honey-colored hair ties her pink ribbons into ’s hair but then pulls the ribbons off—pink doesn’t look good on . Next, three girls... (full context)
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The Busy One. These days, Vu Lee can’t dedicate his time only to . In the mornings he delivers newspapers, and in the afternoons he flips burgers. At sunset,... (full context)
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...by soldiers “of the losing side.” In theory, MiSSS SScott is showing the class where is from, but she should’ve chosen pictures of papayas, or of Tet. It seems unbelievable,... (full context)
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Mother’s Response. Mother strokes ’s hair and walks her through chanting and breathing peacefully in and out. chants as... (full context)
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MiSSSisss WaSShington’s Response. is quiet during her tutoring session with MiSSSisss WaSShington. She looks around the room until... (full context)
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gasps when she sees a picture of a papaya tree heavy with ripe papayas. Excited,... (full context)
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Cowboy’s Response. Just before school, the cowboy arrives at ’s house—MiSSSisss WaSShington told him about the pancake incident. Now, the cowboy, MiSSSisss WaSShington, Mother, and... (full context)
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...of Vietnam. This time, she shows landscape photos and one of the Buddha. She asks if she’d like to say anything, and offers that she knows Buddha. Kids laugh... (full context)
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Hate It. is too angry to go inside when she gets home. She digs a hole by... (full context)
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...he’s going to only work on engines. Mother is so happy that she cries, but pouts. Is she ever going to get a turn to be happy? (full context)
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Confessions. decides it’s time to tell Mother why she’s been so miserable, so she admits that... (full context)
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Mother assures that she’s taking on too much. Mother says she’s just superstitious; if did anything,... (full context)
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NOW! accompanies Mother and Brother Quang to the grocery store, where Mother buys ingredients for egg... (full context)
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Du Du Face. Once again, boys are chasing and yelling “Boo-Da” at her. runs toward Brother Khôi, but she still has to... (full context)
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...apparently, Pink Boy is getting his cousin, a sixth-grade girl who’s extremely muscular, to beat up on Monday. (full context)
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A Plan. doesn’t even have to tell Brother Khôi about the threat, since he heard that ’s... (full context)
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Run. With five minutes to go, gets ready to run. She races out the door as soon as the final bell... (full context)
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A Shift. Pink Boy runs toward , and squats so she’s ready. Pink Boy puts his fist out and when he’s... (full context)
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WOW! hears a roar, and both she and Pink Boy turn toward the sound. A huge... (full context)
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The Vu Lee Effect. Now, Vu Lee always picks up after school. This means that people always want Pem, , and SSsì-Ti-Vân to sit... (full context)
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...Quang money to attend night college, Vu Lee jerky, Brother Khoi two fighting fish, and a new coat. MiSSSisss WaSShington gives a gong and jasmine incense to Mother, an engineering... (full context)
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Not the Same. The package MiSSSisss WaSShington gave contains dried papaya. This papaya is chewy, waxy, and sticky—it’s not like papaya at all.... (full context)
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But Not Bad. Mother slaps ’s hand and tells her to compromise, but refuses. Instead, she goes to bed and... (full context)
Part 4: From Now On
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Gift-Exchange Day. On December 25th, “gift-exchange day,” Pem comes over with a doll— told her about the mouse-bitten one that she lost. almost screams, as the doll... (full context)
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...not remember his old family. Brother Khôi wonders if Father joined a monastery in Tibet. doesn’t have any exciting what-ifs, but she can’t let her brothers win. So, she asks... (full context)
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A Sign. Mother keeps quiet about Father, but she chants every night. knows Mother is waiting for a sign, and she thinks that she’ll decide what happened... (full context)
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No More. knows that she’s supposed to wear all new clothing items when she returns to school... (full context)
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Seeds. wears the dress to sleep and explains to Mother what happened. She says that she... (full context)
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...all help Mother look around the cafeteria, bathroom, and parking lot. Mother’s eyes stay wild. is afraid of what Mother’s expression will look like if the ring is gone. Finally,... (full context)
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...family gets home, Mother goes to her room and stays there through dinner. Around bedtime, and her brothers hear the gong and then Mother chanting. Now, her voice is “low... (full context)
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Eternal Peace. Mother puts on her brown áo dài, ’s brothers wear ill-fitting suits, and wears a pink ruffly dress. She hates it, but... (full context)
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Start Over. is trying to explain Father’s ceremony to MiSSSisss WaSShington, but it’s hard to get all... (full context)
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...children to be an engineer, a poet, a “real doctor,” and a lawyer. She asks if she likes to argue, and snaps that she doesn’t. Mother smiles, and ... (full context)
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...of different ingredients than usual. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s not bad, either. and her family members smile the entire first three days of the year. They all... (full context)
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Mother also sets up a permanent altar on a tall bookshelf and displays Father’s portrait. can’t look at it. She holds her incense stick and waits for the gong to... (full context)