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
Branch Call Number: 741.5 B932
Characteristics: 327 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 24 cm


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From Library Staff

OPL_MichelleC Jan 17, 2019

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.

OPL_KrisC Jul 31, 2018

A moving graphic novel memoir about one family's immigration journey from war-torn Vietnam to the United States and the daughter's subsequent life adjusting to first-time motherhood years later. The art is captivating and the story just draws you in and doesn't let go.

From the critics

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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.

Apr 21, 2020

A touching story of a family persisting through war, displacement, and adaptation to life in a foreign land. A quick read worth rereading. Compare with other Vietnamese-American of the same generation such as Ocean Vuong.

Mar 11, 2020

This book was written in 2018 and it feels exceedingly relevant in 2020. I don't normally read graphic novels. I thought the illustrations and how this emotional story was written was beautiful, powerful, and important. I was so engrossed in the story I read it cover to cover in one sitting. It made me think, made me cry and is quickly becoming one of my favorite books that I read in the Extreme Reading Challenge for 2020.

Feb 17, 2020

This is a fantastic graphic memoir written by a Vietnamese woman about her family's experiences before, during, and after the war. I learned so much about Vietnam and the history after World War II and leading up to the war there. The illustrations are easy to follow, which isn't always the case for me with graphic novels.

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.

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.

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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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