Listen, Slowly by: Thanhha Lai

“I’m on a plane.”
– Mai

p.s. some words on this post may look weird, and that’s because this book is written with Vietnamese language. I don’t know how to write characters on a computer, so the basic word should do. Sorry!

Mai is only twelve years old and her parents want her to be the perfect little robot. But this summer was supposed to her break from all her straight A’s and extracurricular activities.

Until it wasn’t.

Her parents have decided that she should accompany her grandmother, Ba, to Vietnam. Why? Because Ba thinks her husband (Mai’s grandmother), Ong, is still alive.

After a long plane ride and a few words exchanged between her and her father, they have arrived. Mai is impressed, or is she? She’s only seen Vietnam from PBS Nature. She knows nothing about their customs and traditions, and don’t get her started on speaking Vietnamese. The only thing that truly saves her is her ability to understand Vietnamese, but she reveals that at the last minute. (take that, Ut!)

When she arrives, her father leaves to the mountains to run a clinic, while Ba stays with Mai until they get to the village.

They are immediately swarmed by people who are somehow related to her. (anyone relate?) She tries to be polite, but not being able to speak is really hard so she just nods and smiles. (which seemed to do the trick)

Life in Vietnam is very different from life in California, but Mai makes it work. She tries to make friends, she attends a sewing class, and . . . she listens in on what the detective hired to find Ong says.

She thinks he’s the worst detective ever.

So. Will the detective find Ong? Will Ba and Mai finally know what happened to him?

I rate this book a 10/10 (which my friend calls a 1) because it’s highly entertaining. Lots of people with relatives in a foreign country can definitely relate to this. I know I did. It’s funny and portrays home, not as a building, but as a family. (and you get to see Mai’s character development!) But anyways, enjoy the book!

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