The Best We Could Do

The Best We Could Do

An Illustrated Memoir

Graphic Novel - 2017
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The author describes her experiences as a young Vietnamese immigrant, highlighting her family's move from their war-torn home to the United States in graphic novel format.
Publisher: New York : Abrams Comicarts, 2017
ISBN: 9781419718779
Branch Call Number: 973.04959 B8681B 2017
Characteristics: 327 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

Hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees came to the United States after the war. Bui’s evocative graphic memoir recounts one family’s experience of building a life in America and the intergenerational consequences of the war’s lasting effects.

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One of our librarians described The Best We Could Do as "a brilliant graphic memoir and family history, a powerful and painful telling of Bui's family in war-torn Vietnam and their emigration to the US."

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Oct 30, 2018

A great read that entices you with the characters. This is the first graphic novel that I've finished reading and have a deep interest in it.

OPL_KrisC Jul 31, 2018

A moving graphic novel memoir about one family's immigration journey from war-torn Vietnam to the United States and the daughter's subsequent life adjusting to first-time motherhood years later. The art is captivating and the story just draws you in and doesn't let go.

ArapahoeApril Jul 18, 2018

As Thi Bui has her first son, she reflects on what her parents sacrificed to give her and her siblings a better life. A story about family and bonds that can never be broken. Bui gives an honest portayal of what it was like living in Vietnam during the Vietnam War and having to seek refuge in America. Beautifully illustrated and told.

JCLCherylMY May 19, 2018

A stunning debut. While Thi Bui tells her family's story of escaping from Vietnam in the 1970's and making their way to the United States, she also explores motherhood, forgiveness, and understanding a parent's struggles from an adult's eye. One of my favorite quotes is: "But maybe being their child simply means that I will always feel the weight of their past." A beautiful biography. Perfect for book clubs and older students. Highly recommend.

KHCPL_Doug Apr 16, 2018

As a memoir, this starts out fairly typical. A daughter, now a mother, wondering who her parents were. But then it becomes a true story of her parents, and a history lesson on the tragedies and events of the Vietnam War. I ended up liking this graphic novel way more than expected. I was fascinated with the struggle and will to survive that some families and some individuals are forced to endure, and the true horror of war and the innocent (or not so innocent) victims. The art is so somber yet can be beautiful in places. By the end of the story, I felt like I knew her family and I knew the places they'd lived. It's a sorrowful but hopeful story. It's also timely--I couldn't help but relate their story to today's headlines of Syria and the refugee crisis. Different times but stories that are so sadly similar.

Apr 08, 2018

I really can't see how anyone can give this less than 5 stars. This book really opened my eyes even further to the struggles of Vietnamese refugees, and the graphic novel format is an excellent one to express it.

Apr 01, 2018

A simple yet heartfelt illustrated memoir about a young Vietnamese family immigrating from a war torn country to the United States. The story is interesting and touching; the art is also very stylish and impressive.

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.

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Jan 31, 2018

MelissaBee thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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JCLCherylMY May 19, 2018

"That being my father's child, I, too, was a product of war ... and being my mother's child, I could never measure up to her. But maybe being their child simply means that I will always feel the weight of their past. Nothing that happened makes me special. But my life is a gift that is too great -- a debt I can never repay." pg. 325.


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