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Written by Sky Lee and other people who wish to remain anonymous
Kim Hà, or Hà
Hà is a young, ten-year-old girl who lives in Saigon, Vietnam. Hà is physically described as having short, straight, black hair and olive skin. She is a feisty girl who is very determined and strong in nature. She is the protagonist and the voice of the story Inside Out and Back Again. She is very close to her mother, and although she describes her three brothers as annoying, it is apparent that she loves them as well.
Hà's mother is both tender and strong for her family, as her husband is a missing navy captive in the war. While she is the source of love and comfort for her children, she is also witty and does not allow disobedience. All the while, in her parenting she displays wisdom in her explanations; helping the children understand why her rules are the way they are. Hà describes her as having sunken eyes, too-hollow cheeks, and a mouth dark with worries. Although, she remains strong for her family in the midst of so much loss and difficulty, her physical appearance must attest to her grief.
Brother Quang is the oldest brother at 21 years old. He is very intelligent and already speaks English prior to the journey, so he acts as a translator once they land in the United States. He also seems to be the one who struggles the least with the transition of moving because he has a job, a motorcycle, and a cool factor. The family's American family in primarily interested in Brother Quang when they are chosen because of his interest in engineering and college. He lands him a job at his mechanic shop and eventually helps pay for him to resume college.
Brother Vū is the middle brother at 18 years old. He is the least hesitant and most excited to flee to the united states because of his love for Bruce Lee. He has a passion for martial arts and teaches students in their yard in Alabama. Eventually, at the resolution he begins to teacher classes. He also has a passion for cooking and the Alabama host pays for him to attend culinary school.
Brother Khôi is the youngest of the three brothers at 14 years old. He shows the softest side of the three boys. When the hen lays eggs he always tries to sneak and hatch the eggs instead of letting the mother cook them. From the beginning of the story, he has a passion for animals. Prior to leaving Saigon, he finally hatches a chick and his mother tells him to leave it when they begin their journey. Although he tries to take it, the chick dies. It is very difficult for Khôi to give it up, but his sister is there for emotional support. Khôi is also the brother that has a bicycle and is assigned the job of walking his sister back and forth from school. He occasionally lets his sister ride on the handle bars. In the end, he expresses a desire to be a veterinarian.
The teacher for Hà’s fourth grade class is Miss Scott. Although she has good intentions to help Hà feel welcome, the ideas she has only make things worse for Hà. She tried to show a slide show of the war in Vietnam to help the students understand where she comes from but it angers Hà because those aren’t the things she loves about her country. She would rather her classmates see the things she remembers most instead of the war and violence. She also has Hà share a word in Vietnamese with the class, which only adds to their laughter and taunting.
Mrs. Washington is a dear neighbor that really helps Hà to cope with all of the change in her life. She gives her English lessons after school every day, as well as sharing with her that her son was a soldier who went to fight in Vietnam. Although, this worries Hà, Mrs. Washington encourages her that having the family around is a warm reminder of her son. She gives the family each a gift at Christmas time and makes an attempt to help make them feel welcome.
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