The Best We Could Do
“A book to break your heart and heal it.” —Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Sympathizer   ? 4 starred reviews ? Booklist, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, and Shelf Awareness   An ABA Indies Introduce Winter/ Spring 2017 Selection   A Summer 2017 Indie Next Selection Now in paperback, Thi Bui’s critically acclaimed and beautifully illustrated story of her family’s journey from their war-torn home in Vietnam to their new lives in America. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and family, Bui documents the difficulties immigrants face as they build new lives for themselves. At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: adjusting to life as a first-time mother. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, The Best We Could Do examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home, providing inspiration to all who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.

The Best We Could Do Details

TitleThe Best We Could Do
Author
ReleaseApr 17th, 2018
PublisherAbrams ComicArts
ISBN-139781419718786
Rating
GenreSequential Art, Graphic Novels, Autobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Comics, Biography, History, Adult, War, Graphic Novels Comics, Biography Memoir

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The Best We Could Do Review

  • Mischenko
    January 1, 1970
    This book is featured on Throwback Thursday @ https://readrantrockandroll.com/2018/...I picked this up from Netgalley as soon as I learned about it. I love reading graphic novels and this one piqued my interest after reading the blurb. I had already read A Different Pond with my kids and loved that one, so I had a good feeling about The Best We Could Do. This is an extremely moving graphic novel about a family’s immigration from Vietnam and how they do the best they can to make a living in a new This book is featured on Throwback Thursday @ https://readrantrockandroll.com/2018/...I picked this up from Netgalley as soon as I learned about it. I love reading graphic novels and this one piqued my interest after reading the blurb. I had already read A Different Pond with my kids and loved that one, so I had a good feeling about The Best We Could Do. This is an extremely moving graphic novel about a family’s immigration from Vietnam and how they do the best they can to make a living in a new country. Thi Bui is learning to understand her parents past as she has now become a mother herself in America. “Má leaves me but I’m not alone, and a terrifying thought creeps into my head. Family is now something I have created and not just something I was born into.” She wants to understand her families history and she eventually discovers her parents past along with her own childhood. I found it so powerful, eye-opening, thought-provoking, and couldn’t help getting emotional during the reading. I enjoyed it immensely and the artwork is amazing. I would recommend it to anyone.
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  • Nat
    January 1, 1970
    The Best We Could Do brings to life author Thi Bui’s search for a better future while longing for a simpler past. This beautifully illustrated and emotional story explores the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family.Alternating between the present, Bui's own childhood in California, and the lives of her parents amid the chaos of the Vietnam War, Bui explores the saga of her country while trying to understand the history of her parents and gr The Best We Could Do brings to life author Thi Bui’s search for a better future while longing for a simpler past. This beautifully illustrated and emotional story explores the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family.Alternating between the present, Bui's own childhood in California, and the lives of her parents amid the chaos of the Vietnam War, Bui explores the saga of her country while trying to understand the history of her parents and grandparents. Their struggles and pain reflect the turmoil within a country that whiplashed the French Colonial rule to Communism to civil war in one generation. 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.I think by now it's no secret that I get utterly mesmerized with memoirs, particularly when told in the graphic novel format. So I was practically giddy with excitement and triumph when I received this finished copy in the mail courtesy of the publisher. Seriously, though, "beautiful" doesn't even begin to encompass how exquisite and ethereal this graphic novel is in real life. #Goals.Speaking of which, the inside of it was just as eye-catching. Thi Bui's dreamlike artwork, reminiscent of Mariko Tamaki's This One Summer, beautifully and poignantly captures many quiet and loud moments, such as growing up, fitting in, and the connection between generations of family. (Aka all my favorite themes.)But I couldn’t even begin to encompass the importance of this graphic novel in my own words, so I'll let the images speak for themselves: The darkly colored orange scheme fit so well into the overall narrative.What she concluded in the last panel made my head spin with amazement.Bui's mom was superhuman throughout this journey, from taking care of her four kids - including a newborn baby - to helping people get to their gate on time... It was incredible to witness. Wonders will never cease.The above is such a powerful page. Needless to say, I got educated and enlightened a whole lot while reading this illustrated memoir told through the eyes of Bui's family escaping the fall of South Vietnam and fighting to build a new life. The revelation of an often-untold side of the Vietnam War and of refugees trying to escape and create a better life is one I find vitally important, especially in this day and age. Plus, Bui's storytelling skills are just phenomenal; I barely noticed time creeping by until I reached the ending in one sitting.Tackling a wide range of evergreen issues, such as parenthood, immigration and displacement, I'd highly recommend you give this graphic novel a go!ARC kindly provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.Expected publication: March 7th, 20175/5 stars Note: I'm an Amazon Affiliate. If you're interested in buying The Best We Could Do, just click on the image below to go through my link. I'll make a small commission! This review and more can be found on my blog.
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  • Elyse
    January 1, 1970
    I still remember how I felt the first time I read the graphic memoir "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant", by Roz Chast. I wanted the world to read it... I laughed. I cried. I laughed and cried at the same time! And by the way.... I felt it should be required reading for anyone who had aging parents! Both my parents were dead - and I still got value 'as' a mother: not wanting to leave my own daughters a mess to deal with after I die. Roz Chast's graphic memoir TRANSFORMED the word GRAPH I still remember how I felt the first time I read the graphic memoir "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant", by Roz Chast. I wanted the world to read it... I laughed. I cried. I laughed and cried at the same time! And by the way.... I felt it should be required reading for anyone who had aging parents! Both my parents were dead - and I still got value 'as' a mother: not wanting to leave my own daughters a mess to deal with after I die. Roz Chast's graphic memoir TRANSFORMED the word GRAPHIC for me!!! IT WAS AMAZING HOW EMOTIONALLY REAL HER BOOK FELT! Later, I read "Maus" by Art Spiegelman. I got so deeply involved with these books - I own all of them - plus a DVD audio of historical documents and interviews. My god - MEMOIR GRAPHICS on steroids... UNBELIEVABLE!!! How any one person created what he did is mind boggling. I bring these two books up - both GRAPHIC MEMOIRS - because I think they could both become CLASSIC GRAPHIC NOVEL'S ....if there is such a thing.Some books we should read in schools - read in temples - in Church - in Spiritual Communities - in 'Reading Communities' -in families ( as important as having a cell phone) --and some books in ALL THESE PLACES. ADDING "The Best We Can Do", by Thi Bui.... with Roz Chast, and Art Spieglman.... is THIS TYPE of MEMOIR. Forgive me for not mentioning other books that belong in group. I'm SURE THERE ARE MORE!!!! In fact... I'd love to hear of other GRAPHIC MEMOIR or GRAPHIC HISTORY or HISTORICAL HISTORY books that readers feel are important. "The Best We Can Do" The visual art...watercolors are beautifully expressive -- absolutely equally is as vital as the 'written word' -- creating a soulful experience! .....THIS IS A MEMOIR. I appreciate the 'years' of research that went into this book. "The seeds of this book were planted around 2002, when I was a graduate student and took a detour from my art education training to get lost in the world of oral history. The transcripts and my family stories (and the clumsy, homemade book that I produced), from that time we're more meaningful than any art I had made before. I was trying to understand the forces that caused my family, in the late 70s to flee one country and start over in another."Thi Bui went exploring- researching and interviewing within her own family to search for memories in Vietnam about her mom --about her dad--about her grandparents --about her siblings --about herself. Given that she was only five years of age when she came to the United States during the 70's., she was trying to understand Vietnam the way her parents did. Thi Bui was also trying understand the ongoing battles she continued to live with between she and her mother: effects that displacement put on her and her family. This story is often so sad. What is sad to me - is not only what we learn from Thi Bui...but also from what she doesn't tell us. This morning - I re-read the book - and felt sad - again. It feels as though Thi Bui held something back. When Roz Chast was angry at her mother -- ( who had died), --my god I felt it deeply in my gut....but I can't help but wonder ( and it's alright - just sad and part of THIS story), if perhaps Thi Bui was a little afraid to be FULLY EXPRESSIVE in her own memoir. Yikes, the guts it had to take to write what she did with her mother STILL ALIVE AND LIVING WITH HER TODAY!!! It's brave to write a memoir about one's mother when they are alive!!!!! NO MATTER WHAT COUNTRY you live in - displaced or not displaced. Thi Bui WAS AlSO WORKING IN A SCHOOL FOR 7 years working with IMMIGRANTS-- MUCH OF THE TIME WHILE WRITING THIS BOOK.... an alternative High School in Oakland for immigrants.... which she helped start. Yikes.... no wonder it took 15 years before this book landed in our hands. Besides her time divided between being a wife, a new mother, teacher, a daughter, ( her mother living in the same house), --she was writing words AND drawing pictures?/!!!!! Man....."hallelujah"!!!!! That's an accomplishment......Plus......'add' the emotional component! "It was difficult to carve out time and headspace to work on something that not only required a lot of historical research, but was also intensely personal and at times painful. I often wanted to quit." You think? NO KIDDING!! I get it!!!! .....but so glad Thi Bui didn't quit. Thank you Thi!!!!She goes on to say.....( before she had chosen a title for this book) ......"I gave my book the name "REFUGEE REFLEX". Having lived through the RUN/FLEE experience...it would always be a part of her. No, Bui's suitcase is not packed this very moment....but I can't help but be concerned about our current immigration issues - and worry for those who do have bags packed praying they won't be needed. I'll leave you with what I'm left with.... Thi Bui lives in Berkeley California with her husband, her son, and her mother. This story began with Thi giving birth to her son in THIS COUNTRY FOR A REASON...... Bui gave us an experience of a single-family across three generations.... each having a different perspective about Vietnam. As for herself, she understands enough about Vietnam's history to know that "the ground beneath my parents feet had always been shifting..... so that by the time I was born, Vietnam was not my country at all. I was only a small part of it." What had worried Bui is........ ......would she unintentionally inflict damage, pass on a gene of sorrow to her son. When she looks into his 10 year old eyes .... she doesn't see war and loss. And thinks....."maybe he can be free".
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  • Taryn
    January 1, 1970
    Empathetic, honest, and emotional. A gorgeously illustrated memoir of a woman who looks to the past to understand her parents and her complicated relationship with them. In 1978, Thi Bui's parents fled South Vietnam with three young children and one on the way. The Best We Could Do tells the story of them growing up in Vietnam, raising a family in the midst of the Vietnam War, their harrowing nighttime escape by boat, and the difficulties of starting a new life in the United States. The tale be Empathetic, honest, and emotional. A gorgeously illustrated memoir of a woman who looks to the past to understand her parents and her complicated relationship with them. In 1978, Thi Bui's parents fled South Vietnam with three young children and one on the way. The Best We Could Do tells the story of them growing up in Vietnam, raising a family in the midst of the Vietnam War, their harrowing nighttime escape by boat, and the difficulties of starting a new life in the United States. The tale begins and ends with the birth of Thi's first baby. After experiencing the overwhelming responsibility and protective instinct towards her newborn, she sees her parents from a completely different perspective. FAMILY is now something I have created, and not just something I was born into. Bui reveals some instances from growing up that widened the gap between parent and child and kept her from feeling safe and secure. Once her parents' backgrounds are revealed, these stories have a different sheen to them. We see how their pasts shaped who they are and influenced what lessons they felt were important to impart. Bui's mother and father had completely different childhoods. Their backgrounds were so different that I was really interested to see what circumstances brought them together. Her mother grew up in a wealthy household in the relative safety of South Vietnam, while her father grew up in poverty in conflict-ridden North Vietnam. We get to see them grow up as young people with hopes and dreams, and then later as adults who have suffered immense heartache together. We weren’t any of the pieces on the chessboard. We were more like ants scrambling out of the way of giants, getting just far enough from danger to resume the business of living. The specifics of Vietnam's history with colonization and conflict are given for context, but more importantly, this book shows what it's like to live day-to-day in those conditions. War and its effects don't stop when foreign troops leave and the headlines cease. I appreciated a part where Thi tries to figure out her father’s allegiances after listening to another one of his contradictory stories because I was struggling with the same thing. It was a good reminder that things aren't always so easily simplified. My two favorite types of graphic novels are historical fiction and memoirs with historical relevance--images add so much power to these type of narratives. The illustrations are lovingly rendered. So much of the artwork impacted me, but my favorites pages were her parents' wedding, a young Bố hiding underground, and the full spread of her father gazing up at Orion’s belt. Those pages felt like whole stories in themselves. On one page there are actual photographs that were taken when her family arrived at a refugee camp in Malaysia. The contrast between the family I'd come to care for through Thi's loving illustrations and the impersonal identification shots was striking. We see so many photos of refugees and immigrants on the news, it can be easy to forget that they all have a story. In the introduction, Bui writes about a few of the titles she came up with before settling on The Best We Could Do. Just typing the title out makes my eyes well up with tears, so I’d say it was a perfect choice! It's the story of one family's journey from Vietnam and the obstacles they overcame, but it's also so much more. It's so relevant in a time where immigration and how it should be handled is on the forefront of so many people's minds. We see firsthand why someone might make the tough decision to leave behind everything to start a new life and the incredible sacrifices they must make to provide a better life for their families. Most everyone will be able to relate to some aspect of Bui's story: family, home, identity. What makes us who we are? What we pass on to the next generation? Why is it so unsettling when our view of our parents evolves? It only takes a couple of hours to read, but it's so powerful. When I finished reading, I immediately wanted to read it again. If you're on the fence, you can preview a few of the spreads via 'Look Inside' on Amazon, the publisher's page, or visit Thi Bui's art blog. (See full spread & more at Abramsbooks.com) *Vietnamese for Mom and Dad --------------I received this book for free from Netgalley and Abrams ComicArts. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. It will be available for purchase on March 7, 2017.
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  • Sam
    January 1, 1970
    A heartfelt, engaging, comprehensive illustrated memoir, The Best We Could Do really blew me away. I do not gravitate towards graphic novels as a format, but this book completely hooked me from the opening panels as Thi Bui embarks on her own journey of motherhood for the first time, and seeks to close the gap between herself and her parents by better understanding where she comes from and their own stories. She does incredible amounts of research and is able to distill years of history and emot A heartfelt, engaging, comprehensive illustrated memoir, The Best We Could Do really blew me away. I do not gravitate towards graphic novels as a format, but this book completely hooked me from the opening panels as Thi Bui embarks on her own journey of motherhood for the first time, and seeks to close the gap between herself and her parents by better understanding where she comes from and their own stories. She does incredible amounts of research and is able to distill years of history and emotion and anecdote into small illustrated panels, each one complex and powerful and detailed but also able to push the story along into the next image and idea. We embark on this journey through the Bui family history, starting with her parents' vastly different backgrounds and lives in Vietnam pre war, during the long destructive war pitting individuals and villages against each other as well as horrific losses from French and American involvement, and life as refugees in Malaysia and in the United States and how everyone truly did the best they could do to forge new lives, avoid hunger, and raise a family against difficult odds. The renderings and text flow remarkably together: from Thi's narration and illustration, one gets the sense that they could not be separated in order for the larger Bui tale to be told for her, and so the format is necessary and revelatory. The drawings themselves are both simple and yet complicated, and have their own hurried urgency that helps establish the flow of the narrative. This is truly a memoir that meditates on what it means to belong - to people, to a place - and raises great questions about who all of us are as children of our parents, how our views of our parents as people evolve, and how roles shift once again if we perpetuate the cycle and have children of our own. Tie in its timeliness and relevance to a larger, social and political discussion of immigrants and refugees, a parallel to the horrors many from Syria, Somalia and other nations with intra and international conflict are facing today and the often strident response by those who would not wish to help or see those war torn people settled into their societies, and you have the makings of a major force in memoir today. Bui's memoir is at once intensely personal, but with huge potential for universal application and empathy. I would heartily recommend this to most readers: if you don't care for graphic novels at all, perhaps this isn't for you, but if you're like me and just don't gravitate towards that format, you may be surprised with The Best We Could Do, as it's so authentic and interesting and searing, it transcends its glorious individual parts and really might work for you on the level of a family history and a human face on the ongoing disscusion about immigration and belonging.-received an ARC on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review thanks to Abrams.
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  • David Schaafsma
    January 1, 1970
    I read this graphic memoir in one sitting and found it affecting as a story and lovely to look at. It's a story that is familiar, the desire to understand the past of one's parents, and in becoming a parent, finding yourself in a better place to do so. Her parents divorced, but to help her understand the past, and tell the tale, they came together to help her. She did lots of secondary research in addition to talking with her parents.And since it is about Vietnamese parents who became refugees e I read this graphic memoir in one sitting and found it affecting as a story and lovely to look at. It's a story that is familiar, the desire to understand the past of one's parents, and in becoming a parent, finding yourself in a better place to do so. Her parents divorced, but to help her understand the past, and tell the tale, they came together to help her. She did lots of secondary research in addition to talking with her parents.And since it is about Vietnamese parents who became refugees emigrating to the US, it reminded me of G. B. Tran's Vietnamerica on a similar topic, which I also liked. The Vietnamese refugee story of the seventies was dramatic, and the U.S. was very helpful in admitting thousands of displaced people. I lived and taught English in a town where several families were welcomed, and we suddenly had to learn how to help students with no English background learn to speak English and adapt to American culture. Those were folks like Bui's parents. An often moving tale that ultimately emerges to be about parenting, doing the best you can do.This also reminded me of another story of that period I would recommend, Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, by Marcelino Truong. As a person who lived through that war (by reading about it daily and seeing it on the news), it is always a fascinating topic.
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  • Tatiana
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsI really liked the art and I definitely learned a lot about Vietnam's history.However it's a memoir. And, unfortunately, like with many memoirs, I often felt the author didn't dig deep enough or was reluctant to tell the whole truth (probably to, understandably, not hurt her parents). For all author's anger against her parents, she never quite articulated why she felt it. The narrative also was often unclear about certain events, especially how for all the talk about poverty, somehow he 3.5 starsI really liked the art and I definitely learned a lot about Vietnam's history.However it's a memoir. And, unfortunately, like with many memoirs, I often felt the author didn't dig deep enough or was reluctant to tell the whole truth (probably to, understandably, not hurt her parents). For all author's anger against her parents, she never quite articulated why she felt it. The narrative also was often unclear about certain events, especially how for all the talk about poverty, somehow her family always had access to wealth and connections. There was some disconnect there that I think means some things were left unsaid.
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  • Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    Such an important and empathetic graphic memoir about Thi Bui's journey to understand her Vietnamese family and their immigration to the United States from South Vietnam. The Best We Could Do begins with Bui's foray into motherhood and how it reminds her of her mother's story and sacrifices. To cultivate a deeper comprehension of her family's past, she interviews her parents, travels back to Vietnam, and spends tons of time learning about the history of the war and her family's place within it. Such an important and empathetic graphic memoir about Thi Bui's journey to understand her Vietnamese family and their immigration to the United States from South Vietnam. The Best We Could Do begins with Bui's foray into motherhood and how it reminds her of her mother's story and sacrifices. To cultivate a deeper comprehension of her family's past, she interviews her parents, travels back to Vietnam, and spends tons of time learning about the history of the war and her family's place within it. These experiences help her create this moving, cinematic memoir that highlights her family's daring escape from a war-torn country, as well as their struggles to build new lives for themselves in the United States. She captures themes of displacement, intergenerational trauma, and how culture influences the ways we express or do not express our love for one another.I appreciate The Best We Could Do so much for shedding light on an under-discussed lived experience. As a Vietnamese American who was born and raised in the United States, I learned about the Vietnam War in a sterilized, non-personal way in my history classes. Thus, I so love that Bui shows in beautiful imagery and meticulous detail the emotional, relational effects of the war. Holding this book felt like holding a work of art that someone spent hundreds and hundreds of hours creating. Bui's heartfelt compassion for her family's journey from Vietnam to the US shines in these pages, both through the amazing artwork and the research she did to put together his nuanced narrative.Overall, I would recommend The Best We Could Do to anyone interested in history, the Vietnamese American experience, or graphic memoirs. Reading this book made me reflect on my own family - both of my parents came to the United States as adolescents - in challenging, meaningful ways. The educational curriculum in the US often erases the experiences of racism and discrimination we have experienced and continue to experience, so I appreciate Bui shedding light on those instances too. While I wish Bui had also touched on how she and her family have dealt with intergenerational trauma since coming to the US, perhaps that will serve as the foundation of her next highly-necessary book.
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  • Mariah
    January 1, 1970
    This was a great autobiography graphic novel. The author talked about her parents leaving war-torn Vietnam and moving to the USA. This also shared the daughter's story of growing up an immigrant and very poor.This is definitely worth a read!
  • Dianne
    January 1, 1970
    Well done graphic novel by a woman who came to the US with her family as Vietnamese refugees after the fall of Saigon. Thi Bui reconstructs her parents' paths from their childhoods to where/who they are now, and muses on how their respective pasts have shaped her own life.Interesting and beautifully illustrated. I especially loved everything having to do with her father. Just.....for some reason, it did not resonate with me or emotionally engage me. Good, but I would have liked to have had a mor Well done graphic novel by a woman who came to the US with her family as Vietnamese refugees after the fall of Saigon. Thi Bui reconstructs her parents' paths from their childhoods to where/who they are now, and muses on how their respective pasts have shaped her own life.Interesting and beautifully illustrated. I especially loved everything having to do with her father. Just.....for some reason, it did not resonate with me or emotionally engage me. Good, but I would have liked to have had a more visceral connection.
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  • Nelson Zagalo
    January 1, 1970
    Passada toda uma pré-adolescência a ver filmes americanos sobre o Vietname, que mostravam os bons americanos e as suas façanhas e todo o seu altruísmo heróico contra os maus, os "vietcongues", sempre prontos a matar e a fazer explodir os indefesos e os soldados (“The Deer Hunter”, (1978), “Apocalypse Now” (1979), “Missing in Action” (1984), “Rambo” (1985), “Platoon” (1986), “Good Morning Vietnam” (1987), “Full Metal Jacket” (1987), “Casualties of War” (1989)), a que se juntaram algumas tentativa Passada toda uma pré-adolescência a ver filmes americanos sobre o Vietname, que mostravam os bons americanos e as suas façanhas e todo o seu altruísmo heróico contra os maus, os "vietcongues", sempre prontos a matar e a fazer explodir os indefesos e os soldados (“The Deer Hunter”, (1978), “Apocalypse Now” (1979), “Missing in Action” (1984), “Rambo” (1985), “Platoon” (1986), “Good Morning Vietnam” (1987), “Full Metal Jacket” (1987), “Casualties of War” (1989)), a que se juntaram algumas tentativas de mostrar outras janelas sobre o conflito, como “Gardens of Stone” (1987) ou “Born on the Fourth of July” (1989), ficaram sempre todos muito aquém, porque se basearam sempre na perspetiva exterior, nomeadamente a americana, apenas sobre o conflito e a política, deixando de fora as pessoas, aquelas que habitavam o Vietname.[Ler com imagens e links no VIhttps://virtual-illusion.blogspot.pt/...]Talvez o filme que mais se tenha aproximado surgiu numa fase já mais tardia desta vaga, já como terceiro filme de Oliver Stone sobre o conflito, um dos poucos realizadores que esteve realmente na Guerra do Vietname, intitulado “Heaven & Earth” (1993). Ainda assim, e apesar de baseado em livros de Le Ly Hayslip, uma autora vietnamito-americana, acaba por surgir filtrado por Stone, dando conta da realidade que releva para os olhos americanos. Aliás, nesta altura os franceses quiseram também dar conta da sua posição no conflito, ou melhor, do que antecedeu o conflito, e deram-nos “Indochine” (1992), e ainda que como “Heaven & Earth” vá muito além de tudo o resto, mostrando uma realidade do Vietname até aqui desconhecida, continua a ser uma expressão francesa sobre o outro.Não é só por tudo o que disse acima, mas é também muito por isso que este livro de banda-desenhada autobiográfico de Thi Bui, “The Best We Could Do” (2017), ganha uma enorme importância, porque é chegado o tempo de quem sofreu se expressar, de dar a conhecer ao mundo os seus sentires, explicar o que aconteceu, como e porquê, ainda que seja sempre o seu lado da história. Ainda há um par de anos Matt Huynh tinha feito uma incursão neste universo por meio de uma brilhante banda desenhada interativa, "The Boat" (2015), de que aqui dei conta. Contudo Thi Bui conseguiu chamar a atenção com este livro, e não é por acaso que Bill Gates o recomenda como um dos seus livros de 2017.Viet Thanh Nguyen, o autor vietnamito-americano de “O Simpatizante”, o Pulitzer de 2015 que deu um dos primeiros empurrões para o que parece ser esta nova vaga de histórias sobre o Vietname, surge na capa desta banda-desenhada, dizendo sobre a mesma: "Um livro para despedaçar o seu coração e depois curá-lo". Não podia estar mais de acordo, pois se o livro tem um enorme valor histórico-social, capaz de nos ajudar a compreender os sentires de uma população que sofreu os piores males da guerra e da política, não deixa de ser uma belíssima narrativa, construída com grande virtuosismo. Se no início somos levados a desejar compreender a história daqueles personagens, e a meio conduzidos pela tentativa de compreender a problematização política, no final só o sentimento nos é dado, tudo se eleva, tudo se demarca, e o pensamento conduz-se apenas para a razão do que é ser-se humano neste nosso pequeno planeta.E por isso, se inicialmente me pareceu algo condescendente a escolha de Gates, no final do livro tenho de dizer que "The Best We Could Do" foi uma das minhas grandes leituras de 2017.Publicado no VI, com imagens e links:https://virtual-illusion.blogspot.pt/...
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  • Suzy
    January 1, 1970
    Thi Bui fled Vietnam in 1978 with her mother, father and 3 siblings when she was a young girl. Now an adult with a child of her own, she is worried she will pass on to her son the pain and sadness of her parents from a lifetime of war, abandonment, poverty and dislocation. This is a poignant and powerful story of one family’s immigration told beautifully through Thi’s illustrations. Having just written “beautifully”, that word does not sum up the brilliant energy that emanates from the page of t Thi Bui fled Vietnam in 1978 with her mother, father and 3 siblings when she was a young girl. Now an adult with a child of her own, she is worried she will pass on to her son the pain and sadness of her parents from a lifetime of war, abandonment, poverty and dislocation. This is a poignant and powerful story of one family’s immigration told beautifully through Thi’s illustrations. Having just written “beautifully”, that word does not sum up the brilliant energy that emanates from the page of this graphic memoir directly into the reader’s senses and heart. The author’s choice to bookend the story with the birth of her son in New York City made her memoir of three generations of her family in Vietnam and of her family’s getting to and settling in the U.S. that much more potent. I love the creation story of this book. After moving to California with her husband and son shortly after the son’s birth, she started interviewing her parents about her family’s story. It struck her to share this in a graphic memoir, and I am grateful that she did! (If you'd like to know more about the backstory of writing and publishing this memoir, please see Elyse's heartfelt review. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...)We need to know more intimately the stories of immigrants in order see them as people and to help us get beyond the political and economic statistics of human migration. Thank you Thi Bui.
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  • Hristina
    January 1, 1970
    The Best We Could Do features artwork so beautiful and story so intimate that I couldn't put it down. Thi Bui takes the reader along for a journey as she explores her family history and her relationships with her parents. The story is told in a relatable manner, it's poignant and it's easy to connect to (at least it was to me).The story revolves around a Vietnamese family that escapes the war and immigrates to the US in the 70s. It depicts the struggles of being forced out of your own country, t The Best We Could Do features artwork so beautiful and story so intimate that I couldn't put it down. Thi Bui takes the reader along for a journey as she explores her family history and her relationships with her parents. The story is told in a relatable manner, it's poignant and it's easy to connect to (at least it was to me).The story revolves around a Vietnamese family that escapes the war and immigrates to the US in the 70s. It depicts the struggles of being forced out of your own country, the nostalgia, the stress of leaving everything you know behind. At a time like this, with everything that's going on in the US, in the rest of the world, I feel that books like this one, that put faces and stories behind the statistics, they are more important than ever. That's why I recommend this book to everyone, especially to people who live around immigrants or areas that are affected by the current refugee crisis.
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  • Jenna
    January 1, 1970
    I read this book in one sitting (breathless, emotionally turned inside-out) and you should too.Bui's family is different from mine in many ways, but I still experienced a sense of recognition on every page, as if her family life had been stitched together from patchwork pieces of mine, or vice versa. It's Thi Bui's truth, but I think it's a lot of other people's truth, too -- I won't use the word "universal," which I mistrust, but it has a sense of scope, of historical breadth. It's an intimate I read this book in one sitting (breathless, emotionally turned inside-out) and you should too.Bui's family is different from mine in many ways, but I still experienced a sense of recognition on every page, as if her family life had been stitched together from patchwork pieces of mine, or vice versa. It's Thi Bui's truth, but I think it's a lot of other people's truth, too -- I won't use the word "universal," which I mistrust, but it has a sense of scope, of historical breadth. It's an intimate family story strung out on the pitiless frame of history, the way the membranous part of a dreamcatcher is strung out on its solid outer frame, and we are all implicated -- caught.The visual art is heartrendingly tender, watercolor-y, yet doesn't draw attention to itself, fusing with the pithy language to make reading the book feel like a cinematic experience. It's amazing to find an author so equally gifted with words and pictures. We've all heard our parents tell these kinds of stories, but it takes talent to make the scenes spring to life like she does, with one thoughtfully chosen visual detail or scrap of dialogue. I've read a fair number of recent books about Vietnam, and yet this one still manages to stand out, to feel like a vital, absolutely necessary voice.
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  • Louise
    January 1, 1970
    This ranks up with the graphic bio Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood which sets a high bar for this genre.Americans to not always recognize that each immigrant has a back story. Many are survival stories like this one. This is a quick powerful read.
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  • Laurent
    January 1, 1970
    Prachtige en aangrijpende familiekroniek over een Vietnamese bootvluchtelinge. Sterke grafiek, originele vertelstijl.
  • Lily
    January 1, 1970
    This was beautiful, empathetic, harrowing at times, and incredibly brave. Thi Bui, in recounting the lives of her parents and their parents throughout Vietnam's tumultuous history, presents a fresh, new voice in the realm of Vietnamese-American non-fiction. Everyone should read this.
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  • Theresa
    January 1, 1970
    This is not just a book, this is an experience.This graphic memoir details the author's family's life, both in Vietnam itself as well as their eventual escape to the US during the war.It is a very personal piece of work, that delves not only in her family history but also explains how that history has shaped her entire family, particularly her parents, in the present.It deals with the topic of immigration, of how growing up in two cultures with very different values can cause a rift between gene This is not just a book, this is an experience.This graphic memoir details the author's family's life, both in Vietnam itself as well as their eventual escape to the US during the war.It is a very personal piece of work, that delves not only in her family history but also explains how that history has shaped her entire family, particularly her parents, in the present.It deals with the topic of immigration, of how growing up in two cultures with very different values can cause a rift between generations. How Thi Bui herself struggled to connect with and relate to her parents and only really managed to do so after detailed research into their past and Vietnam's history and the birth of her own son.This memoir is unapologetically honest, thought provoking and extremely sad at times. The art style is wonderful and was probably the best way to tell this story. I highly recommend everyone to read this!!
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  • Hameed Younis
    January 1, 1970
    كتاب رائع، صادق، سحريوالجميل فيه انه كوميك، والاجمل من كل ما سبق انه سيرة ذاتيةيحكي الكتاب قصة ثلاثة اجيال من فيتنام عاشروا الحروب منذ الحرب العالمية الثانية مروراً بالثورة الشيوعية وتقسيم فيتنام حتى حرب امريكاخمس نجمات دون تردد
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  • Xueting
    January 1, 1970
    This graphic novel-memoir was so honestly written, I could feel the author herself growing and learning in the process of both the story and the storytelling. It was very interesting to learn more about Vietnam history, especially from a specific and personal point of view, and compare it to what I have learnt about it in school and in the media. There were lots of intense emotions behind the story too, mostly coming from Thi herself, that I couldn’t really understand, but perhaps Thi doesn’t ei This graphic novel-memoir was so honestly written, I could feel the author herself growing and learning in the process of both the story and the storytelling. It was very interesting to learn more about Vietnam history, especially from a specific and personal point of view, and compare it to what I have learnt about it in school and in the media. There were lots of intense emotions behind the story too, mostly coming from Thi herself, that I couldn’t really understand, but perhaps Thi doesn’t either and it’s okay! The art is also really special. I admire the author’s dedication to research her family history and even learn the whole art of comics all to create this graphic novel! I would recommend anyone who loves a heartwarming and honest book about family relationships to check out this book. And I would definitely recommend anyone who loves graphic memoirs to check this one out - it really makes use of the format and art so beautifully to explore history and memory at their human and emotional levels.
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  • Stewart Tame
    January 1, 1970
    A lovely story of a Vietnamese family. Through their story, we also get a look at the history of the country up until shortly after the fall of Saigon when they fled the country to the US. Through her parents' stories, Bui comes to understand her own childhood growing up in America better. The artwork is lush and moving--it's hard to believe that this is her first graphic novel. Autobiography and biography proliferate on the GN shelves, but this one stands out as one of the better ones. It's wel A lovely story of a Vietnamese family. Through their story, we also get a look at the history of the country up until shortly after the fall of Saigon when they fled the country to the US. Through her parents' stories, Bui comes to understand her own childhood growing up in America better. The artwork is lush and moving--it's hard to believe that this is her first graphic novel. Autobiography and biography proliferate on the GN shelves, but this one stands out as one of the better ones. It's well worth your time. Recommended!
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  • Vanessa (splitreads)
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed aspects of this graphic memoir, including the illustrations and the focus on Vietnam. I think the narrative and overall message needed a little more work. I feel like this wanted to describe how becoming a parent is difficult and revealed to Bui a new understanding about her own parents. Ultimately I was confused as to what Bui wanted to drive home to us about her parents' failures and disappointments. I felt some issues weren't tackled as in depth as they could've and the order of eve I enjoyed aspects of this graphic memoir, including the illustrations and the focus on Vietnam. I think the narrative and overall message needed a little more work. I feel like this wanted to describe how becoming a parent is difficult and revealed to Bui a new understanding about her own parents. Ultimately I was confused as to what Bui wanted to drive home to us about her parents' failures and disappointments. I felt some issues weren't tackled as in depth as they could've and the order of events was also a bit hard to follow as it jumps back and forth in time.
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  • Shenwei
    January 1, 1970
    deeply touching and complex
  • Jolien
    January 1, 1970
    Review first published on my blog The Fictional ReaderWhen I saw this on Netgalley, I immediately wanted it. Not only do I want to read more graphic novels, I also want to read more non-fiction and diverse (+own voices) books. This graphic memoir combines all three into one spectacular book.I think this is the type of (non fiction) book I would recommend to everyone. Here’s why: - Because this is an illustrated memoir, it is very easy to read. It doesn’t feel like you’re trying to make your way Review first published on my blog The Fictional ReaderWhen I saw this on Netgalley, I immediately wanted it. Not only do I want to read more graphic novels, I also want to read more non-fiction and diverse (+own voices) books. This graphic memoir combines all three into one spectacular book.I think this is the type of (non fiction) book I would recommend to everyone. Here’s why: - Because this is an illustrated memoir, it is very easy to read. It doesn’t feel like you’re trying to make your way through 2573365 different facts. You just don’t get as overwhelmed by non fiction when it’s in a graphic form. - It’s a diverse and own voices book.- The art is absolutely stunning. It has this watercolor aspect to it that I found so gorgeous. It’s all in the red-orange color you see on the cover. So the pages are black and white usually, with the red watercolor making its way through. - It taught me so much about Vietnam, from the perspective of both Thi Bui, and her parents and grandparents. I think that’s really great, because she showed how each generation’s view on the country is quite different. Do you see why you need to read it too? It’s well worth your time, I promise. If you don’t know, this is a memoir of Thi Bui’s life. She escaped (is this the right word? I don’t really know) Vietnam with her family during the 1970s when she was just a child. Therefore, most of her actual memories are from her life in the US. I think this book is both a search for memories of life in Vietnam, and her finding her place in an American and Vietnamese culture. She explores her life, that of her siblings, but also that of her parents and grandparents in Vietnam -and what they did when they arrived in the US. Like I mentioned before, this book taught me so much about Vietnam. As a Belgian, I’m sad to say that I had almost no prior knowledge of Vietnam? We don’t really cover it in our history classes, so I didn’t even have a basic knowledge to fall back on. That’s why I find it so important to diversify my reading: I want to learn more about other cultures, countries, and people’s experiences.I have to say that this book felt very sad to me. Thi Bui’s family has seen a lot of dark times, and it’s not always easy to be the ones to survive either. What really struck me is when she said that she’d always have the refugee reflex: to always be able to flee/run with your important things much faster and calmer than other people would. Because you’ve been through it so many times. And that makes me so infinitely sad. She doesn’t shy away from addressing the hard topics, such as not getting along with family -and/or not understanding them. I feel like this memoir is her way of trying to understand her mom, dad and grandparents. It’s her trying to understand the country she came from, but didn’t really grow up in. The only downside of this book is that I had to seriously pay attention to the timeline, or get confused. She sometimes goes back 20 years in time, then 30, then back to current times, etc. For example, she’d follow her dad’s life, then her granddad’s and suddenly we’re back to them arriving in the U.S. Because I wasn’t familiar with Vietnam’s history, the “non-chronological” parts made it a bit hard to follow at times.I’d honestly recommend this to everyone. It’s touching. It’s informative. It’s sad, but also has hope. It’s beautiful, thanks to the artwork. It’s a story that deserves to be read.
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  • Lianne - Literary Diversions
    January 1, 1970
    I absolutely fell in love with this graphic memoir. I cannot believe how masterfully simple and yet emotionally complex Thi Bui's writing is; she employs such an intense economy of language that I would never have suspected she would be able to convey so tangled an identity in so few words. She lays bare the very knotted thoughts of a young Vietnamese girl who never felt proud, never felt good enough for either of her cultures and who struggled to attain the wholeness that American society claim I absolutely fell in love with this graphic memoir. I cannot believe how masterfully simple and yet emotionally complex Thi Bui's writing is; she employs such an intense economy of language that I would never have suspected she would be able to convey so tangled an identity in so few words. She lays bare the very knotted thoughts of a young Vietnamese girl who never felt proud, never felt good enough for either of her cultures and who struggled to attain the wholeness that American society claims that it can provide.One of the things that struck me the most about the narrative was the remaking of Thi’s picture of her parents. As a new mother, she is forced to confront the idea of her ageing parents – eternally disappointed by their treatment as elders in the new American society they have been forced into – and the fact that they were once in her shoes. Thi bravely peels back the layers of their story and tries to find common points of reference, all at once suffering from the horrible feeling that her parents might have been better without her which, even as an adult, is a crippling fact to swallow.The art in this graphic novel is at once escapist and terrifying, providing a glimpse into everything that has, and continues to, go wrong with our political systems, all without depicting the familiar scenes of wartime displacement that the media has relied on for years. War is not always about the horrific bombings and the mass casualties: it is sometimes about all of the tiny, bitter wounds that suffocate four generations. I couldn't believe that such quietly replicated domestic scenes could so completely convey the experience of "othering" that she manages to detail. With a mooted colour palette of blues and whites (difficult not to associate these with the clean vision of America that Vietnamese refugees were sold) and the rusted reds, golds and oranges of the Vietnamese soil, the story takes the real centre stage.She has made this graphic novel so many different things at once that I am still struggling days and days later to capture my thoughts. A graphic novel that I would push into everyone’s hands and a must-read for anyone invested in own voices literature. You can find me gushing about this graphic novel on my channel here.
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  • pi
    January 1, 1970
    "The best we could do" is a graphic memoir about a family forced to leave their country in order to get a better life, searching for a better future. It's a graphic novel that talks about the war in Vietnam but, most of all, this is a story about family. It talks about the difficulties they face before and after the displacement: all the sacrifices; the struggle of finding their own identity, or understanding the meaning of home; all the things parents teach to their children, even if they don't "The best we could do" is a graphic memoir about a family forced to leave their country in order to get a better life, searching for a better future. It's a graphic novel that talks about the war in Vietnam but, most of all, this is a story about family. It talks about the difficulties they face before and after the displacement: all the sacrifices; the struggle of finding their own identity, or understanding the meaning of home; all the things parents teach to their children, even if they don't do it on purpose.It's a touching and important story, and I strongly recommend it to everybody, because it doesn't matter that the war this graphic novel talks about happened many years ago, the main subjet of "The best we could do" is unfortunately up to date.At the beginning, it was a bit difficult to get into the story because it jumps a lot from the present to the past, but it's easy to understand everything when you get used to the style. Furthermore, the artwork is great and I love the colour palette that Thi Bui chose.*I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Skip
    January 1, 1970
    This is author Thi Bui's personal story, tracing her and her family's flight from Vietnam. The graphic novel format was a non-standard medium, and the pictures are well done. This is a story of Vietnam and its unvarnished history during a tumultuous period as well as the story of her family from Vietnam and herself. There is a balance of happiness and misery. Personally, I did not find the birth of her child to be an effective event tying together the family's issues, and at times, found the nar This is author Thi Bui's personal story, tracing her and her family's flight from Vietnam. The graphic novel format was a non-standard medium, and the pictures are well done. This is a story of Vietnam and its unvarnished history during a tumultuous period as well as the story of her family from Vietnam and herself. There is a balance of happiness and misery. Personally, I did not find the birth of her child to be an effective event tying together the family's issues, and at times, found the narrative disjointed. I also agree with one reviewer that was critical that the author never really got to the root of the problems in her family, including her parent's separation and an mostly unexplained death.
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  • MissFabularian
    January 1, 1970
    Absolutely stunning...
  • Penny
    January 1, 1970
    Really good.
  • Peacegal
    January 1, 1970
    THE BEST WE COULD DO really shines when it explores the author's parents' experiences on either side of the wealth divide in their home country of Vietnam and their harrowing journeys in a war-torn country. In my opinion, the rapid shifts between time and place could be jarring. The story is bookended by the author's own (awful-sounding) experience of labor and birth, and as is so often the case, just made me cringe and feel thankful I opted out of all of that mess--and had the option to, unlike THE BEST WE COULD DO really shines when it explores the author's parents' experiences on either side of the wealth divide in their home country of Vietnam and their harrowing journeys in a war-torn country. In my opinion, the rapid shifts between time and place could be jarring. The story is bookended by the author's own (awful-sounding) experience of labor and birth, and as is so often the case, just made me cringe and feel thankful I opted out of all of that mess--and had the option to, unlike the author's mother, who went through six pregnancies but clearly had other aspirations for her life.
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