Inside Out and Back Again Quotes


"I can't make my brothers

go live elsewhere,

but I can

hide their sandals."

This quote is a great depiction of Hà's sassy personality. She is annoyed by her brothers, and she knows there is nothing that she can do about their existence in her home. So instead of letting that be, she does what she can to get even.

“She’s wrong,

but I still love

being near her, even more than I love

my papaya tree.

I will offer her

Its first fruit.”

“Mother smells of lavender

and warmth;

she’s so beautiful

even if

her cheeks are too hollow,

her mouth too dark with worries.

Despite warnings,

I still want her sunken eyes.”

These are two separate quotes from Hà describing her mother. Hà’s sassy personality is very evident in the first passage by disagreeing with her mother. However, as you can see in both passages, she holds her mother to a high esteem. She finds her to be beautiful and a sense of comfort. She even states that she will offer her one of her most precious possessions: her first papaya.

"I will not risk

fleeing with my children

on a rickety boat.

Would a navy ship

meet your approval?

As if the navy

would abandon its country?

There won't be a South Vietnam

left to abandon."

Hà's mother and Uncle Són

This quote displays the harsh reality that many families face when it comes to staying put, living in danger, or fleeing for refuge elsewhere. Although the risks are high, the rewards are greater to make an effort to move on to another place. Especially America, where dreams can come true for a family who has nothing left to lose by each other.

"Until you children

master English,

you must think, do, wish

for nothing else.

Not your father,

not our old home,

not your old friends,

not our future."

Hà's Mother

This quote comes from the desperation of a mother who realizes the difficulty of a language barrier. It captures the overwhelming realization that a family who moves to the United States as a refugee can not communicate anything at all as long as they do not know English. It affects every aspect of their life.

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