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The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir (2017)

af Thi Bui

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1,1976616,532 (4.23)110
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.
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» Se også 110 omtaler

Viser 1-5 af 66 (næste | vis alle)
Graphic novel tells the true story of one family's struggles and final escape from South Vietnam at war's end, the challenges they face building a new life together in the Midwest, and the relationship between a daughter and her mother.
  Lake_Oswego_UCC | Dec 19, 2023 |
This is the heartfelt graphic novel about Thi Bui and her family’s life in Vietnam during the war, their subsequent escape by boat, growing up in San Diego, and her determination to uncover the stories of the past as an adult. The horror and struggles make this a compelling read in their own right, even if you’re aware of similar accounts, but perhaps where the book shines brightest is when Bui comes to understand her father’s trauma and connects it to why he acted as he did later in life. There is also a fascinating human story at the bottom of all of this – how her mother came to meet her father, how their relationship evolved over time, and how she gave birth to one of their children in a refugee camp. It’s quite a page-turner to learn more about these lives, and clearly a labor of love for Bui to have documented it.

There is also a historical account here as well, and some of the eye-opening bits were the French coming back to “reclaim their inheritance” after WWII, and the subsequent events, contrasted to American accounts. There are also descriptions of life under communism, e.g. the copying of Mao’s land “reforms” in China by Truong Chinh which killed 220,000 people, the burning of books, and the requirement to agree to unswervingly agree to the propaganda. Her father says, “A new regime that was both nationalist and communist, they had to kill all those people who were friends of the French. The communists, they called those things sacrifices.” She replies, “And you called them Grandmother and Grandfather.”

Maybe the most touching bit was when Bui described saving up what she thought was $100 to give to her mother as a Mother’s Day present as a child, but finding to her dismay that she had miscounted. She writes: “What if all my mother remembered was that I came up short?” It’s devastating, and a reminder to be forgiving of others who might have not acted ideally in a situation in our lives, and to remember what they were able to do. While processing her own sublimated anger, she ponders her roots, thinking of those who came before her that “My life is a gift that is too great – a debt I can never repay,” and of her own son that “I don’t see war and loss, I see a new life, bound with mine quite by coincidence, and I think maybe he can be free.” Amidst a profoundly personal and specific story, she touches on things which are universal. I would love to see more from her. ( )
1 stem gbill | Dec 7, 2023 |
1.5 stars

While the illustrations were attractive, the story itself was very mediocre.

I normally love memoirs and thought the idea of an illustrated one was very interesting; unfortunately, there wasn't enough information (such as background on the culture and political turmoil) for me to fully follow the story. The text was flat - not nearly as charming as the illustrations.

Edit 2/8/2017: Changing rating from 2 stars to 1.5 stars, as I already have forgotten nearly the entire book.

I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley.
( )
  RachelRachelRachel | Nov 21, 2023 |
Welp I wasn't expecting to cry at the end of this book, but here we are. ( )
  nilaffle | Nov 6, 2023 |
Wow. What a poignant read ! A hard reminder that history repeats itself. I learnt about the history of Vietnam. I could map the story and relate it to the situation in Srilanka too. ( )
  Santhosh_Guru | Oct 19, 2023 |
Viser 1-5 af 66 (næste | vis alle)
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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.

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