by Thanhaa Lai, published 2015
“Khong sao,” no worries, I hear myself say. I don’t quite believe it, but Ba has always been able to soothe me with these two words. “Khong sao,” I say again, more for her than for me.
A superb, non-stop, adventure-filled story that brings to light the culture of Viet Nam in a way I’ve never encountered. Filled with words from the language itself, as well as descriptions of places that I’d only read about, I felt like I traveled to Viet Nam and witnessed how international travel can transform a teen. We start with a somewhat spoiled LA teen, and end up with someone with new-found wisdom and compassion. Along the way, the Vietnamese characters pull us into their lives, and become quite real. No one is a stick figure in this book. Recommend for 9 to 12.