Winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction! Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Ibi Zoboi, and Erika L. Sanchez, this gorgeously written and deeply moving own voices novel is the YA debut from the award-winning author of Inside Out & Back Again. 4 starred reviews!
In the final days of the Việt Nam War, Hằng takes her little brother, Linh, to the airport, determined to find a way to safety in America. In a split second, 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.
About the Author
Thanhhà Lai is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Inside Out & Back Again, her debut novel in verse, which won both a National Book Award and a Newbery Honor, and the acclaimed Listen, Slowly and Butterfly Yellow, both of which were named to numerous best book of the year lists. She was born in Viêt Nam and now lives in New York with her family. To learn more about Thanhhà and her charity, Viet Kids Inc., visit www.thanhhalai.com.
“In this radiant pearl of a book, Lại shows that we human beings are singing the very same song: a song of grace and redemption, a song of courage, a song of hope.”
— New York Times Book Review
★ “Every sentence is infused with warmth, and Lại shows readers that countless moments of grace exist even in the darkest times. Masterfully conjures grace, beauty, and humor out of the tragic wake of the Vietnam War.”
— Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
★ “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.”
— Booklist (starred review)
★ “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.”
— Publishers Weekly (starred review)
★ “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.”
— Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)
“Butterfly Yellow is so vivid and specific in its details, but truly, the power of this book is in its depiction of that universal hope of being able to find a new place to feel safe after everything has been torn apart. Timely, brutal, and full of love for life, Butterfly Yellow is a book for the times we’re living in.”
“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.”
— The Horn Book
“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.”
— Shelf Awareness
“Thanhha Lai’s Butterfly Yellow artfully blends comedy and tragedy in a deeply moving story about refugees, siblings, and youthful dreams. For someone who wants to know more about the Vietnamese refugee experience—or how to be a cowboy—this taut novel is a great place to start.”
— Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer
“Lai is a master of storytelling, and this tale will have you wanting to hug close every character even while you cheer for them to fly.”
— Elizabeth Acevedo, New York Times bestselling and National Book Award winning author of The Poet X
“Butterfly Yellow is a beautiful, poetic story of unlikely friendship and grit and determination. Hằng is an unforgettable character. And Thanhhà Lại is one of the finest writers of our time.”
— Matt de la Peña, New York Times and Newbery Medal winning author of The Last Stop on Market Street