Cover image for The best we could do : an illustrated memoir
Title:
The best we could do : an illustrated memoir
Author:
Bui, Thi, author, artist.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Abrams Comicarts, 2017.
Physical Description:
327 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 24 cm
Summary:
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.
General Note:
Chiefly illustrations.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781419718779
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Item Holds
Searching...
E184.V53 B85 2017 Graphic Novel New Materials
Searching...
Searching...
E184.V53 B85 2017 Graphic Novel New Materials
Searching...
Searching...
E184.V53 B85 2017 Graphic Novel Central Library
Searching...
Searching...
E184 .V53 B85 2017 Graphic Novel Graphic Novels
Searching...
Searching...
E184.V53 B85 2017 Graphic Novel Graphic Novels
Searching...
Searching...
E184.V53 B85 2017 Graphic Novel New Materials
Searching...
Searching...
E184.V53 B85 2017 Graphic Novel New Materials
Searching...
Searching...
E184.V53 B85 2017 Graphic Novel Graphic Novels
Searching...
Searching...
E184.V53 B85 2017 Graphic Novel New Materials
Searching...
Searching...
E184.V53 B85 2017 Graphic Novel Graphic Novels
Searching...
Searching...
E184.V53 B85 2017 Graphic Novel New Materials
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

National bestseller
2017 National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Finalist
ABA Indies Introduce Winter / Spring 2017 Selection
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Spring 2017 Selection
ALA 2018 Notable Books Selection

An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family's journey from war-torn Vietnam, from debut author Thi Bui .

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.


Author Notes

Thi Bui was born in Vietnam three months before the end of the Vietnam War, and came to the United States in 1978 as part of the "boat people" wave of refugees from Southeast Asia. Her debut graphic memoir, The Best We Could Do (Abrams ComicArts, 2017), has been selected as UCLA's Common Book for 2017, a National Book Critics Circle finalist in autobiography, an Eisner Award finalist in Reality Based Comics, and made several Best of 2017 book lists, including Bill Gates's top five picks. Bui is also the Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator of A Different Pond , a picture book by the poet Bao Phi (Capstone, 2017). Her short comics can be found online at the Nib, PEN America, and BOOM California. She is currently researching and drawing a work of graphic nonfiction about how Asian American Pacific Islanders are impacted by detention and deportation, to be published by One World, Random House. Bui taught high school in New York City and was a founding teacher of Oakland International High School, the first public high school in California for recent immigrants and English learners. Since 2015, she has been a faculty member of the MFA in Comics program at the California College of the Arts. Thi Bui lives in the Bay Area.


Reviews 4

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Artist and public-school teacher Bui's memoir and graphic-novel debut is a stunning work of reconstructed family and world history. In 1976, faced with job loss, little food, and constant surveillance, Bui's family fled Vietnam for the U.S. Her parents were born during the First Indochina War, from 1946-54, and in learning and recording their experiences her father's were especially full of unfathomable sorrows and the complex political situations that led her family to become refugees, Bui makes sense of what she couldn't as a child. Her stony father's humble heroism emerges, and though she claims her mother's story is the harder one to tell, since their lives are so entwined, she does this, too, with fullness and empathy. In an unforgettable scene, young Bui, despite growing up in San Diego, discovers she's inherited a refugee reflex to gather her minimal important belongings and seek safety at the slightest hint of danger. Inked in black and shaded with red ochre washes, Bui's expressive drawings are striking in their clarity, expression, and depth; the faces of her loved ones quickly become familiar. In creatively telling a complicated story with the kind of feeling words alone rarely relay, The Best We Could Do does the very best that comics can do. This is a necessary, ever-timely story to share far and wide.--Bostrom, Annie Copyright 2017 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Tracing her family's journey to the United States and their sometimes-uneasy adaptation to American life, Bui's magnificent memoir is not unique in its overall shape, but its details are: a bit of blood sausage in a time of famine, a chilly apartment, a father's sandals contrasted with his son's professional shoes. The story opens with the birth of Bui's son in New York City, and then goes back to Vietnam to trace the many births and stillbirths of her parents, and their eventual boat journey to the U.S. In excavating her family's trauma through these brief, luminous glimpses, Bui transmutes the base metal of war and struggle into gold. She does not spare her loved ones criticism or linger needlessly on their flaws. Likewise she refuses to flatten the twists and turns of their histories into neat, linear narratives. She embraces the whole of it: the misery of the Vietnam War, the alien land of America, and the liminal space she occupies, as the child with so much on her shoulders. In this mélange of comedy and tragedy, family love and brokenness, she finds beauty. (Mar.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

[DEBUT] With her debut graphic memoir, Bui captivates readers with her recounting of the struggle her family faced as they emigrated from Vietnam to the United States after the war, leaving behind their way of life. Now, as a new mother, Bui starts to contemplate her parents' lives and what events led them to their current situation. The narrative then rewinds to the author's childhood in California and her desire to understand why her parents fled their home in the Seventies. Spanning her own experience as well as that of her parents in the French-occupied and ultimately war-torn country, this oral retelling takes readers down the path of three generations, presenting a firsthand glimpse into the history of Vietnam. Uncovering deeper insight into her heritage, which resonates for her as an adult, Bui creates a seamless transition between past and present, making for an accessible read, along with beautiful artwork that draws us in with every panel. Verdict Be prepared to take your heart on an emotional roller-coaster journey with this thought-provoking account that completely satisfies as the story comes full circle. Highly recommended for teens and adults; an excellent choice for book clubs.-Laura McKinley, Huntington P.L., NY © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal Review

Bui meticulously researched her family's history, discovering how their past affects her. Her family's story is full of struggle and heartache, and the author/illustrator beautifully details her parents' escape from Vietnam to the United States in search of a better life. A new mother, Bui returns to the theme of parenthood and family, and teens will recognize her yearning for stability and a happy future as well as her self-doubt and fear of repeating her parents' mistakes. A compelling narrative and breathtakingly elegant artwork with subtle colors and expressive and finely drawn characters make this title a standout. Curricular tie-ins include immigration policies, refugees, colonization, and the Vietnam War. VERDICT Hand this essential volume to teens who appreciate David Small's Stitches and Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis.-Sarah Hill, Lake Land College, Mattoon, IL © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.