Ha is celebrating Tet with her family, which is the first day of a new year. In South Vietnam, Ha had a great life. She did well in school, she had her friends, and she had her home. But now, the Vietnam War has started, and it put Ha's life in danger.
Ha leaves with her family to go to America on a cramped ship with thousands of people on it. Though Ha and her family might not like it, it is still the only way to escape from the communists' leader, Ho Chi Minh, who is planning to rule their hometown in Saigon.
Ha gets bullied at school by a boy every single day because she is the only kid in her classroom who is from a different culture. The boy calls Ha very rude, racist names, and it makes Ha very upset.
Ha is tired of getting bullied at school everyday. So Ha's brothers, Vu and Khoi, stand up for her. After that, Vu is respected by his town and the boy leaves Ha alone.
Although some parts of Ha's life get easier, there is one thing that Ha thought she could never get over. A letter came from Father's brother, and he said that there was no sign of the Father anywhere. Since then, everyone has begun to accept the fact that the Father is dead, and life in Ha's family starts to get better!