This remarkable and bestselling novel from Thanhha Lai, author of the National Book Award–winning and Newbery Honor Book Inside Out & Back Again, follows a young girl as she learns the true meaning of family.
Listen, Slowly is a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year!
A California girl born and raised, Mai can’t wait to spend her vacation at the beach. Instead, she has to travel to Vietnam with her grandmother, who is going back to find out what really happened to her husband during the Vietnam War.
Mai’s parents think this trip will be a great opportunity for their out-of-touch daughter to learn more about her culture. But to Mai, those are their roots, not her own. Vietnam is hot, smelly, and the last place she wants to be. Besides barely speaking the language, she doesn’t know the geography, the local customs, or even her distant relatives. To survive her trip, Mai must find a balance between her two completely different worlds.
Perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia and Linda Sue Park, Listen, Slowly is an irresistibly charming and emotionally poignant tale about a girl who discovers that home and culture, family and friends, can all mean different things.
“This book is at once funny, thoughtful, and stunningly engaging. I loved, loved, loved it! Can’t wait for my own daughter—and every reader who is lucky enough to get their hands on it—to step inside Mai’s two, very different, worlds.”
“Lai does a superb job of creating a memorable setting and populating it with fully developed, complex characters. Gracefully written, Listen, Slowly is a sometimes humorous, always thought-provoking coming-of-age story.”
“The sights, smells, and tastes of Vietnam’s cities and villages come alive on the page, without overwhelming a story filled with a summers-worth of touching and hilarious moments, grand adventure, and lazy afternoons.”
“As she did in her National Book Award-winning Inside Out & Back Again, Lai offers a memorable heroine and cultural journey—ones that are clever near-opposites of those in that book.”
“Lai inserts Ba’s lyrical voice selectively into Mai’s story. These heart-stopping passages further shift Mai’s position from outsider to insider, to, finally, truly bicultural, just as ‘Listen, Slowly’ invites readers to see Vietnam from the inside out—and back again.”
“This is a love story on many levels, between granddaughter and grandmother, grandmother and grandfather, and for the homeland one carries within. Details Lai plants early on add up to a powerful finish. A beautiful counterpart to Thanhhà Lai’s Inside Out and Back Again.”
“Newbery Honor author Lai delivers a funny, realistic tale of family and friendship and culture clashes. A touching tale of preteen angst and translation troubles.”
“This valentine of a novel may jumpstart questions in young readers about the people and places of their families’ past.”
“Lai convincingly shows Mai’s slow transformation from spoiled child to someone who can look beyond herself with compassion. Her strong-willed personality makes her an entertaining narrator; readers will happily travel anywhere with Mai.”
“Through prose so evocative we can feel the heat caressing Mai’s skin as she lands, Lai transports the reader from suburban California to modern-day Vietnam.”
The village experience and Mia and her grandmother’s travels in the city offer Lai a way to introduce readers to various aspects of Vietnamese culture with both wry wit and genuine enthusiasm.
“Thanhha Lai is so amazing.”
“Holy cats, I LOVE this book! I loved Mia so much—she’s one of the best characters I’ve read in a while. Sarcastic, smart, and so, so funny. And she brings a wonderful sense of levity to a beautiful, sad story.”
Praise for INSIDE OUT AND BACK AGAIN: “An enlightening, poignant and unexpectedly funny novel in verse. In her not-to-be-missed debut, Lai evokes a distinct time and place and presents a complex, realistic heroine.”.”
“Based in Lai’s personal experience, this first novel captures a child–refugee’s struggle with rare honesty. Written in accessible, short free–verse poems, Hà’s immediate narrative describes her mistakes—both humorous and heartbreaking; and readers will be moved by Hà’s sorrow as they recognize the anguish of being the outcast.”
“The taut portrayal of Hà’s emotional life is especially poignant as she cycles from feeling smart in Vietnam to struggling in the States, and finally regains academic and social confidence. An incisive portrait of human resilience.”
“Ha’s voice is full of humor and hope.”
“Open this book, read it slowly to savor the delicious language. This is a book that asks the reader to be careful, to pay attention, to sigh at the end.”
“American and Vietnamese characters alike leap to life through the voice and eyes of a ten–year–old girl—a protagonist so strong, loving, and vivid I longed to hand her a wedge of freshly cut papaya.”
“Lai’s spare language captures the sensory disorientation of changing cultures as well as a refugee’s complex emotions and kaleidoscopic loyalties.”
“In this free-verse narrative, Lai is sparing in her details, painting big pictures with few words and evoking abundant visuals.”