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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.
"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."--Publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Abrams ComicArts, 2017
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9781419718779
Branch Call Number: B BUI
Characteristics: 327 pages : chiefly color illustrations ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

Thi is just 3 years old when her family emigrates to the United States after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s. This intimate graphic memoir explores the history of Vietnam and the lasting effects that displacement had on her family.

Online - June 7, 2020.

In this searing graphic memoir, a young woman looks back and tries to make sense of the struggles that her family faced as refugees in the United States after the Vietnam War.

In this searing graphic memoir, a young woman looks back and tries to make sense of the struggles that her family faced as refugees in the United States after the Vietnam War.

From the critics

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ArapahoeJulieH May 24, 2021

Following the birth of her first child, the author goes on a journey to understand her parents and how their flight from Vietnam influenced their view of life. This illustrated biography gives a glimpse into the tragic history of Vietnam from the 1930’s to the fall of Saigon in the early 1970’s and the hardships suffered by Bui's parents and grandparents over these decades. It is a meditation on family, relationships, responsibilities, identity and the meaning of love and home. A powerful read with illustrations to compliment the text.

May 24, 2021

I enjoyed learning the history of the author through a graphic novel format. Very informative!

Mar 18, 2021

A great history lesson/reminder along with family and immigrant struggles.

JCLBetM Feb 15, 2021

An eye-opening glimpse into Vietnam history through the lives of the author's parents and grandparents. This graphic also plunges into the muddy waters of family relationships and responsibilities, as she journeys to find the meaning of home. Sparked my curiosity to learn more about Vietnam.

Feb 12, 2021

Written by Thi Bui, “The Best We Could Do” is an excellent autobiography about Thi’s family during the Vietnam War. Their determination for a brighter future leads to a balance of misery and happiness when they managed to escape, but other family members were left behind. I like how Thi added parts about Vietnam’s history as it gives out more insight. This book made me emotional about certain tactics people had to use in order to survive and how there was a chance you wouldn’t get to see your family again. Families were separated as soldiers and gunshots marched in to destroy everything that came in their way. It gave me insight of what it’s like and made me always be grateful of what I have. If I were to recommend this book, it would be for everyone to give a read too since you’ll gain insight into Vietnamese history as well, but there are a few pages of language/graphics.

Jan 25, 2021

Just not my cup of tea. didn't enjoy the graphic novel angle, at least not in this case.

Jan 24, 2021

Good drawings, but only fair storytelling, lacking poignancy and drama.

Sep 22, 2020

A graphic memoir in which the author interviews her parents in order to understand their past and perhaps become closer. This story contains haunting depictions of the Vietnam War from the perspective of ordinary Vietnamese civilians. There is a keen sense of sadness conveyed throughout, up until the end which felt hopeful and cathartic. I really enjoyed this story and due to the nature of graphic novels it could easily be read in one sitting.

Aug 12, 2020

The graphic novel works well to approach what is often difficult material, to visually replace awkward literary devices such as foreshadowing, to show what cannot be said, to tell this powerful and emotional story. The author tells a moving story of history and race and family and loss but it never becomes too much (for me). I highly recommend this book.

Hillsboro_RobP Jun 09, 2020

A troubling memoir that is literally a grown daughter asking her parents for their story and getting an emotional landslide. None of the images are fully detailed, but they stay with you just the same. The same for the stories. Bui hints that either she or her parents left out some of the brutal details, and that's saying something.
I'd also like to give a nod to the length-long and detailed enough to draw you in, but not drawn out enough to bury the reader in a depressing morose forever. Probably a good thing.

I would have liked to see more of the parents' modern life now, but the story hardly suffers for this omission. A powerful read for grown children and aging parents alike, and strong proof of the legitimacy of non-fiction graphic novels.

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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"

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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Jan 31, 2018

MelissaBee thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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