The Best We Could Do

The Best We Could Do

An Illustrated Memoir

Book - 2017
Average Rating:
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This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family's daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.

At the heart of Bui's story is a universal struggle: while adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent - the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity and the meaning of home.

In what Pulitzer Prize - winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls "a book to break your heart and heal it," The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui's journey of understanding, and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.

Publisher: New York : Abrams Comicarts, 2017
ISBN: 9781419718779
Branch Call Number: GRAPHIC NOVELS BES
Characteristics: 327 p. :,chiefly ill. (chiefly col.) ;,24 cm

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MelissaBee
Jan 03, 2018

Thi Bui's debut graphic novel, "The Best We Could Do," surpasses other well-told refugees' tales by way of her honest exploration of how we are not only shaped by the way our parents raise us but also by the people, places, and events that shaped our parents themselves. On the cusp of creating her own family with the birth of her son, Bui turns her wondering gaze towards the life-defining decisions her parents made while growing in, and eventually escaping from, the chaos of the long years of war in their home country, Viet Nam.

Bui's strength is not only her insight into how her parents' youth shaped her experience as their daughter, but also in the delicacy of her writing and the artistry of her illustrations. Her writing includes many subtly delivered insights, such as her realization that the fear she felt of her father as a child "was only the long shadow of his own" childhood fears as he experienced death, destruction, and abandonment. Her illustrations effectively mix simple line drawings and delicate portraits, washed in earthy tones that may harken back to the red clay soil of her home.

I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy graphic novels, history, family memoirs focusing on parent-child relationships, coming of age stories and immigrant tales.

JessicaGma Dec 14, 2017

This is a stunning graphic novel about a family's experience coming to America from Vietnam, and also the relationship between mothers and daughters. I really liked the spare brushwork-like art, and how the relationships are slightly ambiguous.

ajfoustdougco Nov 24, 2017

One of the best graphic novels of the year, telling one family's story as they cope with the approach of the Vietnam War and eventually are forced to flee their home.

Mayflower94 Oct 03, 2017

One family's journey from colonial Vietnam to current day America. The stories are too broad to fit into a single book, whereas none of them is compelling enough.

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mclarjh
Sep 28, 2017

Ambitious epic, but mediocre drawing; characterization; and storytelling. Politically correct.

r
redtayres
Sep 19, 2017

As far as graphic novels go I found this one interesting but less than compelling. Telling the story of the the author's life and those of her parents, this is a nice opportunity to learn a bit about Southeast Asian history. Not a bad read but I've read a lot better graphic novels than this one, which failed to compel me to consume it all in a single sitting.

j
jackhwolf
Aug 02, 2017

As others have said an excellent read in comic book (or as they say graphic novel) style. Poignant and interesting and doable in 1-2 hours.

StaffPickles Jul 26, 2017

Donna's pick: This is an astonishing book. It has a kind of small, personal honesty and realness about people, and families. But it also excels at the broader scope of war, and fleeing your home. The author has put her heart and soul into this story - and produced a truly memorable book. It's the art of writing/drawing a graphic novel memoir at its best.

s
spiderfelt_0
Jul 02, 2017

Chalk up another title in the Venn Diagram of 'Best Memoir' intersecting with 'Best Storytelling in a Graphic Novel'. If you enjoy looking deeply into the origin of your family's pain, and examining the environmental and social factors affecting your own development, than this is the book for you. I would heartily recommend this title to anyone who enjoyed Alison Bechdel's Fun Home and Are You My Mother. All three books look into the nature vs nurture debate with unflinching honesty.

WVMLlibrarianShannon Jun 30, 2017

The was incredibly moving, beautiful and sad. A meditation on what it means to be a parent and get to know your own parents as people.

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