The Best We Could Do

The Best We Could Do

An Illustrated Memoir

Book - 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
1419718770
9781419718786
1419718789
Call Number: B B8681a
Characteristics: 327 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 24 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

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 esc... Read More »

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 esc... Read More »

SFPL's One City One Book selection for 2018 explores the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child. Thi Bui documents her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves in ... Read More »

An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam from debut author Thi Bui. One City One Book selection for 2018.

Excelsior Book Club October Selection. An illustrated memoir about the author's experiences as a young Vietnamese immigrant.


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r
ryner
Jan 13, 2020

A touching and painfully honest account of Thi Bui's family's journey, from her parents' survival in war-ravaged Vietnam to forging new lives for themselves as immigrants to the United States. It demonstrates starkly how the war and other traumatic experiences have serious, lasting and often invisible effects on survivors.

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GreenDog2006
Dec 29, 2019

I wanted to love this book - I like memoirs in graphic format, it got tons of rave reviews and awards, and I'm very interested in learning more about the post-WWII history of Vietnam from the Vietnamese perspective. Unfortunately, I found the book disorganized - there was so much jumping around between characters and time periods, I had a lot of trouble figuring out whose story I was reading (author, sister, mother, father, grandparents on both sides) and when and where it was happening (Saigon? The North? Cambodia? The US?) that I'm left with some vivid images but not the understanding I was hoping for. I wish the author had maybe changed colors or something to indicate separate people, or time periods, or locations.

a
Anuschka
Oct 01, 2019

This book resonated with me enormously. I too am an immigrant, though not from a country with the traumatic history of Vietnam. But Thi Bui's musings about dysfunctional family relationships, and thoughts about being a link in the chain from the past to the future, had me in tears on several occasions. I will add I have never before been keen on any graphic novel - this book, the combination of illustrations, writing & the weight of the stories, is exceptionally powerful. Highly recommended.

n
ncs1961
Aug 01, 2019

I keep thinking how difficult the conversations must've been - painful memories, family "secrets", things "best left to the past". The author has dug deep & gotten to know her family; I appreciate that she shared them with us - to educate, foster empathy, and maybe just to share.

DBRL_IdaF Jul 02, 2019

The birth of Thi Bui's child triggered a strong desire to learn and share more of her family history. She illustrates how each of her parents grew up and how they met in Vietnam, including a bit of background history of the country itself. They started a family there before fleeing as refugees when Thi was a very small child, and her mother was 8 months pregnant.

We see them adapting, and sometimes failing to adapt, to life in the United States, and the evolution of family dynamics over the years. The author, now a mother herself, comes to realize how both her parents' and her own early trauma have informed her life, even as she comes to an understanding of what little control adults sometimes have over their own circumstances. She comes to see her parents as human beings. It's a story both unique and universal.

The drawings and text perfectly complement each other to evoke the feeling of each event.

c
clearyp
May 22, 2019

Covers important information everyone should know, and it's good that people in San Francisco will read this if they don't know anything about the Vietnam war and the experiences of South Vietnamese who had to escape and come to the US.
Also, the graphic format makes it a quick read.
But several sections are pretty confusing, making the order of events and who specific people are hard to follow.
For those who are interested in this fascinating human story, about people who are among us every day here in our city, there are books (and films) which give a far more vivid picture and better understanding not only of the South Vietnamese but of the North Vietnamese, many of whom were also just ordinary people caught up in a terrible war not of their own making.
Note: I am just a European American myself but I have traveled to Vietnam, both North and South (as was) and have spoken to Vietnamese who were so-called "Boat People" and read these books and watched the films.

e
ednabw
May 22, 2019

This was a heart-breaking story in every way. Most understand that someone who is becoming a first time and new mother could result with reflection on one’s own upbringing including parenting style and family dynamics. This true story is not just about becoming a better parent than one’s parent but it’s about tragedy and helplessness in one’s own life without any control to be the parent one would like to be and, to raise a family in one’s own homeland. There was no chance of that happening because of war, fear and desperation. Although there are some sweet childhood moments in the story, I found it hard to read and felt depressed for this young mother.

s
sandraperkins
Apr 14, 2019

This is the first graphic novel I have ever read. It is possible to read this book quickly, as there are relatively few words among all the pictures, but the story is very powerful. It is also timely, as there are so many refugees in the world today, fleeing war, violence, climate change disaster, etc.

I wept reading this book, as this family suffered so much hardship over the years. The children were able to achieve success in this country, but they were not unscathed.

As I read this book, I thought about what an easy life I have had by comparison. Those of us who were born into middle class (or better) lives in the US truly won the birth lottery. Whatever troubles we have are miniscule compared to those of most people in the world.

The Best We Could Do gives us insights into the refugee/immigrant experience. As we listen to the anti-immigrant vitriol spewing from the mouths of some of our leaders (most of which is outright lies), we are lucky to have books like these to tell the stories of people coming to the US from other lands. Immigrants are NOT criminals and terrorists; they are people just like us. They are NOT coming here because they want to take US jobs. Only unspeakable horrors would drive people to risk their lives and the lives of their children to leave home and all that is familiar, to come to a new place where people are hostile to them.

c
courtws
Mar 26, 2019

DNF. Lost interest on page 77 and returned the book.

e
eliseondet
Mar 11, 2019

A story that sheds some light on the long-lasting impacts of being a refugee, an immigrant and having lived through years of war. A must-read as our empathy for refugees is very low these days

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SakuraRose
Nov 15, 2018

"However much my body wanted to rest, a force pulled me onto my feet with clear and simple directive KEEP HIM ALIVE"

s
SakuraRose
Nov 15, 2018

"What has worried me since having my own child was whether I would pass along some gene for sorrow or unintentionally inflict damage I could never undo. But when I look at my son, now ten years old, I don't see war and loss or Travis and me. I see a new life bound with mine quite by coincidence and I think maybe he can be free"

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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MelissaBee
Jan 31, 2018

MelissaBee thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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