HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir…
Loading...

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir

by Thi Bui

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
124997,109 (4.31)33

None.

None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 33 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
Stories of refugees and immigration are incredibly relevant these days. Between certain world leaders trying to impose travel bans, to the threats of building a wall all along a border, to the devastating refugee crisis being seen due to instability in Syria, the very thought of people finding a safe place to live, while leaving their home behind, has become incredibly politicized. When I first heard about “The Best We Could Do”, I knew that I needed to immediately get it on my request list so that I could read it as soon as it was available to me. It’s heartening to see that graphic novels are becoming more and more used to tell personal stories, and a story as personal as this one was only bolstered by the imagery that we found on the page. Oh boy was this a wonderful book.

And a very sad book as well. Thi Bui was born in Vietnam, just around the time that the Vietnam War was starting to wind down. Her family history is intwined within the stark differences in the Vietnamese society up to and during the war, as her mother was from the bourgeois class and her father was decidedly less well off. But this story isn’t just about a family trying to escape a violent and unsafe situation; it is also about a family that is forever affected by society around it, and a family trying to fit in in a new place that is completely new and different to them. By giving the context of her mother’s background, her father’s background, and the culture and society of Vietnam during their childhoods and her childhood as well, we get a story that is tragic, hopeful, devastating, and important all at once. She also does a very good job of showing how Western Imperialism and Colonialism, of course, had a large effect on how Vietnam dealt with a cultural conflict of the North versus the South. I really appreciated that she pointed out that for people in America during the war (those fighting it aside), it was more of a concept and something to support or speak out against. But for the Vietnamese, it was the life they were living every day, and that somehow kind of got lost in the narrative.

I also really liked the stories of her family, as imperfect and in some ways dysfunctional as it was. She has a very conflicted opinion of both her parents. Her father wasn’t a very good parent to her, and he wasn’t a very good husband to her mother either. But seeing his childhood that was filled with turmoil, poverty, instability, and broken family ties, we can completely understand why he turned into the man he became. We also see that her mother was in many ways a remarkable person who had ambitions and dreams, but then found herself in a marriage she wasn’t completely invested in, and with a family that, as cherished as they were, put an end to her ambitions, ambitions that absolutely could have been backed up by talent and know how. Bui contrasts her own journey into motherhood against the story of her own mother, and it is incredibly effective and bittersweet.

I think that what I found most effective about this story is that it has a powerful message, but it is wrapped in a family memoir. I was expecting far more about the fall of South Vietnam, and the journey out under cloak of darkness. But while that certainly does play a part, it’s really a story about a family, and how having to move from one life to another, whole new life in a whole new place caused damage that never quite repaired. Trauma, war, and displacement isn’t something that is forgotten just because you move to a new place and start a new life, and sometimes adapting to that new life can be a challenge in and of itself.

The art in this book is absolutely gorgeous. It is fairly simple at first glance, but images pop out and really take the reader’s gaze into them. I loved the colors and I loved how detailed it was, even though it looks like it’s fairly straight forward. I really cannot recommend “The Best We Could Do” enough. In a time where I think empathy and understanding are sorely needed when it comes to trying to understand the refugee experience, Thi Bui’s memoir will engage readers and show them how much is lost and how much is sacrificed just to stay alive. This is an incredibly important book. ( )
  thelibraryladies | Sep 18, 2017 |
Another graphic novel addressing a challenging issue. This is the way I like my graphic novels. Simple coloring (black, white and sepia) drawings both simple and complex as the story requires. A real exploration of motherhood as well as a personal look at Vietnam. I found the Vietnam piece to be complicated and muddled. I was quite young during the war and really didn't understand what was going on. Reading this history from a personal point of view I see that it was complicated and muddled for everyone. The impact on the people of Vietnam harder than anyone should have to endure. I felt adrift as I read. This is a book that needs discussion. There is so much to digest. Thank you to Thi Bui for sharing this intimate tale. ( )
  njcur | Jun 19, 2017 |
Graphic memoir of a Vietnamese refugee. In 1978 the Bui family left Vietnam in a boat to Malaysia and a refugee camp. Eventually they made their way to relatives in Chicago and then to California. The story is told by one of the daughters who searches for her family identity. The graphic format works well for this story.

Advance review copy. ( )
  seeword | May 29, 2017 |
Simple, intimate, and quiet.
  Unreachableshelf | Apr 4, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

No library descriptions found.

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.31)
0.5
1
1.5
2
2.5
3 2
3.5 2
4 10
4.5 6
5 9

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

You are using the new servers! | About | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 118,527,932 books! | Top bar: Always visible