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YA Review: Butterfly Yellow by Thanhhà Lại

Title: Butterfly Yellow
AuthorThanhhà Lại
Year Published: 2019

Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 284
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2020 Google Reading map): USA (TX) and Việt Nam

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): In the final days of the Việt Nam War, Hằng takes her little brother, Linh, to the airport, determined to find a way to safety in America. In a split second, Linh is ripped from her arms—and Hằng is left behind in the war-torn country.

Six years later, Hằng has made the brutal journey from Việt Nam and is now in Texas as a refugee. She doesn’t know how she will find the little brother who was taken from her until she meets LeeRoy, a city boy with big rodeo dreams, who decides to help her.

Hằng is overjoyed when she reunites with Linh. But when she realizes he doesn’t remember her, their family, or Việt Nam, her heart is crushed. Though the distance between them feels greater than ever, Hằng has come so far that she will do anything to bridge the gap.

Review: I really enjoyed Inside Out and Back Again by this author and figured this novel would also be interesting and well done. I was right.

I like that the author uses images that she saw in a Buddhist temple as the inspiration for this novel and to shape her telling of Vietnamese refugees coming to America. The plight of refugees is so relevant right now and Lại tells a story that we can all relate to: wanting to belong and to be with family.

Using the Vietnamese alphabet phonetically in English is an effective way for the reader to "hear" Hằng's voice. It is difficult to read and makes the reader slow down, but I think that also creates the feeling that those around her feel when she speaks and makes her frustrations more real.

The juxtaposition of Hằng and LeeRoy is also nice. Both have something they want, or want to be, but they aren't sure how to get there. Together they work through the bumps, slowly becoming friends, as they navigate Hằng's story. 

Challenges for which this counts: 

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