Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Reviewed by Ariel Barreras
ABOUT THE BOOK
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.
Bui’s debut graphic novel is a beautiful and important one. I stumbled across this book at my local library and I was instantly intrigued. I read this 330-page novel in two hours! This book tells the story of Bui’s family and their journey as refugees. Bui wants to learn more about her parents: what their childhoods were like, how they met, and their perspective on leaving Vietnam and entering the United States as refugees. In turn, not only does the reader learn about the struggles of being a refugee, but also the struggles of a family that has lost touch with one another. For me, this book was an eye-opening experience. I laughed, I cried, and my heart broke. Bui’s writing and illustrations combined gives the reader everything that needs to be understood. Nothing is left to the imagination and it is a difficult read. This is a heartbreaking novel, but inspiring one. I believe that this is an important read because of the state of the world now. People need to have a better grasp of what hardships refugees go through and how we can make it better. I recommend this book to literally everyone and anyone!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Thi Bui was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States as a child. She studied art and law and thought about becoming a civil rights lawyer, but became a public school teacher instead. Bui lives in Berkeley, California, with her son, her husband, and her mother. The Best We Could Do is her debut graphic novel.