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Listen, Slowly
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Listen, Slowly
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Listen, Slowly is a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year! This remarkable and bestselling novel from Thanhha Lai, author of the National Book...
Listen, Slowly is a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year! This remarkable and bestselling novel from Thanhha Lai, author of the National Book...
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  • Listen, Slowly is a New York Times Book Review Notable Book and a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year! 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.

    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.

About the Author-

  • Thanhhà Lai is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Inside Out & Back Again, her debut novel in verse, which won both a National Book Award and a Newbery Honor, and the acclaimed Listen, Slowly and Butterfly Yellow, both of which were named to numerous best book of the year lists. She was born in Viêt Nam and now lives in New York with her family. To learn more about Thanhhà and her charity, Viet Kids Inc., visit www.thanhhalai.com.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine A look at culture and family is expertly narrated by Lulu Lam. When Mai is sent to Vietnam for the summer with her grandmother, the California girl is upset to be missing out on beaches, bikinis, and boys. But as the summer progresses, she learns to accept others and learns more about herself as well. Lam convincingly portrays Mai's selfishness and spoiled personality and slowly changes the tone of her narration as Mai changes throughout the novel. The audio suggests the Vietnamese language with accents and nuances in pronunciation, making for a rich experience for the listener. S.B.T. © AudioFile 2015, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from December 1, 2014
    All high-achieving 12-year-old Mai wants is to hang out at home in Laguna Beach with her best friend and her crush-that-shall-not-be-named: “This is the summer I’ve been waiting for my whole life,” she explains. Instead, she is forced to accompany her father and her grandmother (Bà) to Vietnam to determine whether her grandfather (Ông) might still be alive. (He disappeared during “THE WAR,” as Mai thinks of it, and has long been presumed dead.) Mai’s self-interested annoyance gives way to fascination as she becomes swept up in her Vietnamese heritage, helps find out what happened to Ông, befriends a headstrong girl named Út, and enjoys a deepening relationship with Bà. 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, as Lai trades verse for prose and an immigrant’s story for one of a girl fully immersed in American culture. The story capably stands on its own, yet considered alongside Inside Out, it’s all the more rewarding. Ages 8–12. Agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio.

  • Kirkus

    November 1, 2014
    A trip to Vietnam did not figure in Laguna, California, girl Mai Le's summer plans!Twelve-year-old Mai (Mia at school) was looking forward to a summer at the beach with her bestie, Montana, trying to catch the eye of HIM (a boy from school), but she's forced on to a plane to keep her grandmother, Ba, company on a trip of indeterminate length. Ong, Ba's husband, went missing during the Vietnam War, and a detective claims to have found a man who knows something about Ong. Mai and Ba stay in Ba's home village, while Mai's doctor father heads into the mountains to run a clinic. Mai's Vietnamese is rusty, and only teenage boy Minh speaks English (but with a Texas accent). The heat, the mosquitoes...even the maybe-relatives are torture. Out of touch with all things American, Mai worries that Montana may put the moves on HIM; and the only girl in the village her age, Ut, is obsessed with frogs. For her sophomore effort, Newbery Honor author Lai delivers a funny, realistic tale of family and friendship and culture clashes. The subtle humor of clunky translations of Vietnamese into English and vice versa are a great contrast to Mai's sharp and sometimes-snarky observations that offer a window into Vietnamese village life and language. A touching tale of preteen angst and translation troubles. (Fiction. 9-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from January 1, 2015

    Gr 5-8-The summer before she turns 13, Mai is planning to spend her time going to the beach and finally talking to her secret crush. She's less than thrilled when her parents make her escort her grandmother to Vietnam instead. New information may have surfaced about her long lost grandfather, who disappeared over 40 years ago in "THE WAR." Mai doesn't know the culture or speak the language, and everything she knows about Vietnam is from a PBS documentary on the Fall of Saigon. While her parents are excited for her to learn more about her roots, the teen doesn't even know the details of her own parents' escape because "random roots are encouraged, but specific roots are off-limits." Stuck in a village with limited internet access, a sulky Mai slowly makes friends due to lack of better things to do and bonds with her grandmother, with whom she was very close as a small child. Mai's character growth is slow and believable, coming in small increments and occasionally backsliding. 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. With a contemporary time setting, this compelling novel shows the lingering effects of war through generations and how the secrets our parents keep can shape us.-Jennifer Rothschild, Arlington CountyPublic Libraries, VA

    Copyright 2015 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from November 1, 2014
    Grades 4-8 *Starred Review* Twelve-year-old Vietnamese American Mai is a Laguna Beach girl who can't wait to spend her summer at the beach getting to know HIM, the boy on whom she has a major crush. Imagine her horror, then, when her parents announce that she must, instead, travel to Vietnam with her grandmother, who will search for clues to the fate of her husband, who disappeared during what Mai thinks of as THE WAR. It'll be a chance to connect with her roots, her father tells her, to which she acidly thinks, Yeah, right . . . They're his roots, not mine. In fact, she admits, most of what she knows about Vietnam comes from PBS. Set to hate it in Vietnam, Mai is at first selfish and solipsistic, finding life there to be one body-crushing, must-do, crowd-throbbing, mind-heavy event after another. Gradually, however, she begins to change as she gets to know her bewilderingly large extended family and makes a friend of a distant cousin. Lai does a superb job of creating a memorable setting and populating it with fully developed, complex characters. Gracefully written and enriched by apposite figures of speech, Listen, Slowly is a superb, sometimes humorous, always thought-provoking coming-of-age story. HIGH-DEMAND HOT LIST: Lai's Inside Out and Back Again (2011) racked up the honors from both Newbery and National Book Award committees, and it also landed on the New York Times best-seller list, so her latest is sure to generate widespread anticipation.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

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