by Thanhhá Lai
AR Test, Teaches About Culture
The beach. Friends. Boys. Mia planned her summer around fun. Then her father drags her to a small village in Vietnam where Mia is to watch over Bá (her grandmother). However, Mia doesn’t want to learn about her roots—she’s a California girl, who has no desire to meet relatives, travel to Vietnam, or give up the comforts of her life.
As Mia struggles with mosquitoes, lack of privacy, and a language barrier, she learns about her family heritage as well as what is really important in life. However, the story isn’t just about Mia; it’s also about Bá and her need to find out what happened to her husband in the Vietnam War.
As Mia tells her story in Listen, Slowly, the reader is entertained with funny stories as well as introduced to Vietnamese culture. Another positive aspect of the book is Mia who is a realistic and likable character. She worries about regular teenage things, but also comes to realize that the people in her life are more important than things, cell phone included. This book is suitable for younger readers because the story is told from a teen’s point of view. Although the story contains some adult issues, they are adjusted to fit the maturity level of a younger audience.
- Mia thinks about her best friend who has large breasts and a bow on the butt of her bikini. Mia is afraid a boy that she likes will be interested in her best friend because of the bikini. When Mia goes on Facebook, she sees a photo of her friend in a bikini. She thinks, “Did she Photoshop to make her boobs look extra big? How big do they need to be? I don’t want her boobs, but I have to confess I do want the attention they get her . . . There HE is, just as I suspected, standing right behind her butt bow.”
- A soldier recounts a story about when he was in the war. The soldier and a prisoner, who viewed each other as equals, spent time digging a tunnel. Then helicopters came and dropped bombs. The prisoner died. When the soldier recounts the story, Bá slaps him because the prisoner was Bá’s husband.
- Mia’s father tells her about when he left Vietnam. “I looked out my airplane window and saw a boy not much older than I was dangling from a helicopter. I watched him hang, then drop into the sky.”
Drugs and Alcohol