Title: The Best We Could Do
Author: Thi Bui
Genres: Graphic Novel, Memoir
An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam from debut author Thi Bui.
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.
I always feel weird about reviewing a memoir. It’s like rating someone’s life based on how interesting/entertaining it is to read about. But hey, reviewing books is exactly what I do on this blog, right? And how else am I going to talk about this amazing book? So let me try to do it anyway.
The Best We Could Do is a visual memoir written by Thi Bui, exploring her parent’s past, their journey to the USA from war-torn Vietnam, and the effects that this displacement had on herself and her family.
I learned so much from this book, and for that I’m incredibly grateful. I didn’t know much about what had happened in Vietnam, and seeing it told from a person who was there and who saw these things happen with their own eyes was both eye opening, and heart breaking.
This book hit me hard. There were a lot of passages that I couldn’t read without having to blink away tears, and at times I had to put it down because it was getting too much. But I guess that’s what incredible storytelling does to you.
The fact that this is a graphic novel added, in my opinion, so much to the story. It made it easier to connect with the story, and the fact that you could actually see what was going on around them made it all feel very real. Besides this, the drawings were also incredibly stunning, and the fact that they were done by Thi Bui herself blows my mind.
Overall, I definitely recommend this book. It only takes a couple of hours to read, but it’s incredibly powerful and will definitely have an impact on you.