Butterfly Yellow tells the story of the final days of the Việt Nam War, when Hằng takes her little brother, Linh, to the airport, determined to find a way to safety in America. In a split second, baby Linh is ripped from her arms—and Hằng is left behind in the war-torn country.
Six years later, Hằng has made the brutal journey from Việt Nam and is now in Texas as a refugee. She doesn’t know how she will find the little brother who was taken from her until she meets LeeRoy, a city boy with big rodeo dreams, who decides to help her.
Hằng is overjoyed when she reunites with Linh. But when she realizes he doesn’t remember her, their family, or Việt Nam, her heart is crushed. Though the distance between them feels greater than ever, Hằng has come so far that she will do anything to bridge the gap.
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"...in this radiant pearl of a book, Lai shows that we human beings — fragile or strong, saved or doomed, frightened or brave, and sometimes all of those things at once — are singing the very same song: a song of grace and redemption, a song of courage, a song of hope."
"Lai’s interpretation of the process of healing teaches readers that anxiety and trauma are very real, and there are many ways of confronting and coping with them."
"Lai is more interested in exhibiting human kindness and understanding."
"Timely, brutal, and full of love for life, Butterfly Yellow is a book for the times we're living in."
"Remarkable. Told with ample grace, Lại’s finely drawn narrative and resilient characters offer a memorable, deeply felt view of the Vietnam War’s impact.”
"Lại writes with charm and spark, and she is especially original in her conveyance of Hằng’s limited English. Hằng remains resilient and purposeful, characteristics that make her compelling and even heroic. Ultimately, this is a bittersweet yet hopeful story of letting go and finding new ways to come together.”
"Lại’s imagery awakens the senses. Most powerful is the deep throb of regret and the thinnest wisps of hopefulness that Lại conveys throughout. They touch the soul.”
"Dedicated "In memory of the thousands of refugees at the bottom of the sea," Lại personalizes history with compelling characters, lively interactions and, most importantly, engrossing storytelling.”
“One strength of the novel is the subtle character development. Another is Lại’s use of language. Those who hear Hằng’s remarkable tale can additionally think about contemporary connections to immigrant experiences, feelings of being an outsider, and the detours one’s life may take.”
"This is a truly unique story, and Hang's story leaps off the pages. It is fully engrossing. She has experienced a great deal of trauma, which is slowly revealed to the reader. As such, I think this is a valuable book about war and what follows as well as about the Vietnam War. Emotion is heavily carried through the book, and this is a truly beautiful (and heavy) read for that reason.”
"Gorgeous writing meets expert narration in this one-of-a-kind refugee story."
NPR: Favorite Books of 2019
Kirkus Reviews: Best Young Adult Books of 2019
Booklist: Editors' Choice Books for Youth
BookBrowse: Best YA Book of 2019
New York Public Library: Best Books of 2019 for Teens
Center for the Study of Multicultural Children's Literature: Best Books of 2019
Spirit of Texas Reading Program: 2020 High School Recommendation
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books: 2019 Blue Ribbon List
Winner of the Audiophile Earphones Award