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.
Praise For Listen, Slowly…
— Jacqueline Woodson, author of the National Book Award-winning Brown Girl Dreaming
“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.”
— Booklist (starred review)
“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.”
— School Library Journal (starred review)
“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.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“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.”
— New York Times Book Review
“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.”
— Shelf Awareness (starred review)
“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.”
— Kirkus Reviews
“This valentine of a novel may jumpstart questions in young readers about the people and places of their families’ past.”
— Washington Post
“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.”
— The Horn Book
“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.”
— Los Angeles Times
HarperCollins, 9780062229182, 272pp.
Publication Date: February 17, 2015
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.