I don't know what exactly it is (maybe it's my age or the way I was raised) but whiny, ungrateful main characters make it hard for me to read a book. In the first couple of chapters, Mai comes off as very whiny and she doesn't get much better by the end of the book. I realize that this is partially because of her age, she is twelve, but it still made me want to stop reading.
My favortie part of the book was the little bits of information that Ba (Mai's grandmother) tells her about the places they visit. Call me a sucker, but I love when family members build a stronger relationship with each other! I also love how vividly Thanhha Lai writes about Vietnam. I could almost feel the humidity!
All in all, I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars. The writing was really good but the main character was hard to stick with. I think I would have enjoyed this much more if I was actually middle grade aged.