A Parent’s Guide to The Language Inside (Book)

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

The Language Inside by Holly Thompson

Type: Contemporary, Poetry

Basic Plot: Emma is a white girl that has been raised in Japan, but has moved to America because her mother is having surgery. Though she is disappointed, she learns to like America as well and starts to wonder which place she would rather stay in.


Plot: 3/5 Average: Though the plot was not boring and bland, the story had nothing special about it. The plot was based on things any person could experience and were not to extraordinary. Fortunately, most of the characters and events were realistic in being unique for each person as well. The lives were just not unique enough.

Writing Style and Setup: 3½/5 Above Average: I was surprised when I looked in this book as I thought it was a regular novel, but it was a book written in poetry form. For as few words as the author could use, the book was descriptive and told the story in an understandable way. Though it was written in poetry form, a lot of the time it felt like a book would. It usually had more of a “free verse” style than a poetic one.

Moral: 3½/5 A Pretty Good Moral: The moral of The Language Inside seemed to be that a person should focus on helping other people and adjusting to new surroundings rather than moping about it. Emma does volunteering to help people who are disabled as well as starting a program so she can make money to help tsunami victims in Japan. Though she does feel sad she isn’t in Japan, she learns how to be productive in her new environment. This is good advice for all ages, as we all go through the changes God puts in our lives and he expects us to adjust to them (though as Christian we have His help).

Overall: 3½/5 Above Average: This book is recommended quality wise for twelve or thirteen and older. Either gender may enjoy it, but it is recommended for girls. The plot, style, and moral were all above average, but unfortunately they were too realistic in an uninteresting way to be very inspiring or impressionable unless you are dealing with something similar to the characters.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 2/5 Suggestive: Emma’s mom has breast cancer, and though the subject of breast is rarely looked at in an inappropriate way in the book, people may find it to be immodest. Emma does talk about how it will be removed in the book and to others.  The most immodest dealing with the subject in the book is probably when Emma and a lady write a poem called “14 Ways of Looking at a Breast.” In this poem the word “sexy” is used, other names for a breast are mentioned (though none would probably be consider extremely inappropriate), and lingerie is mentioned. “Sexy” is also used to describe a certain man. A poem is mentioned that has to do with a lady’s hips. A boy kisses a girl on the cheek, hair, and lips. Boys are said to act “flirty” in a dance.

Violence: 2/5 Light or Mentioned Violence: There is a tsunami and an earthquake, with people dying in the former. People hit each other on the head in a non-violent way and smack and punch each other that way as well. Emma hurts her leg. There is discussion of people who escaped from Cambodia in war times. Emma watches a movie called The Killing Fields which is about the subject of Cambodia and war. Two of the things the author recommends have “kill” or “killing” in their name. There is a ghost story that mentions suicide. There is also mention of a ghost breaking a person’s neck as a joke. A boy “head butts” someone. Metaphors and descriptions like “wound” are used.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 2/5 A Little Misuse of God’s Name: God’s name is misused four times and “Jeez” is used once.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 2/5 Some Emotional Content: Emma is sad because a tsunami hits Japan and because her mother has breast cancer. This is never dealt with in a really dramatic and emotional way though. Crying only happens three or four times, and it is not done too dramatically. A man dies and there is mention in the book of people having died. Some people also are mentioned to barely escape death. Someone bleeds is mentioned once.

Religious Issues: 2/5 Suggestive: An amulet is given as a present. There is mention of “evil spirits” once. There is mention of a myth popular in India and Southeast Asia that includes false gods and goddesses. Buddha is mentioned, and a poem is written about a Buddha statue. There is mention of temples and shrines in Japan. There in mention of good luck charms. Halloween is celebrated. Incense is burned for people that died and one funeral uses cremation. There is mention of ghost. There is mention of “saints and priest.” Light is described twice as being “ghostly.” At the end of the book a book is recommended that references false gods in the title. A holiday called Obon is mentioned that has to do with the belief dead spirits return to earth. “Devils are mention once.

Magic: 1/5 Some Reference: For Halloween Emma helps a lady dress up as a mermaid and she thinks how she had considered dressing as a witch but didn’t. There is mention of wanting a “magic wand.” A boy is described once as walking like “Frankenstein.”

Others: White wine is used in cooking and sake (an alcoholic rice drink) is mentioned. A teenage boy says that he used to drink but does not any more and does not drink in the book. He does go to a party though and has to be persuaded to leave so he does not drink anything. It mentions that a boys father was an alchoholic.

Overall: 2½/5 Teenage Appropriate: This book could be viewed in either as morally fine or not. Part of this depends on how a person views the way the breast cancer in the book is dealt with. The subject is usually not dealt with in an inappropriate way, but it is also done in a way that is more direct than some people may think is appropriate. This book does have some things that are very borderline in it such as the poem, a teenager drinking in his past, and misuse of God’s name, therefore this book is not strongly recommended. If you do read it, I suggest fifteen or sixteen and older as being an appropriate age. (It may be good to mention that the book is more than five hundred pages long, which is why this is not rated horribly.)


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