The Best We Could Do: an Illustrated Memoir

Thi Bui
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Jun 24, 2018

In her immigrant's memoir told in graphic novel form, Thi Bui explores the saga of her family's escape from Vietnam in the 1970's to the United States.

Her debut opens with the birth of her first child in 2005. Will she be a good mother? How is she different from her mother? What was her mother's experience? How was her mother shaped after losing family, her country? How did her father's childhood shape his fathering abilities? And how has her own experience as a refugee, coming to a country she had to assimilate into that she was culturally so different from, as well as being confronted with the tense history between the two countries, shaped her.

As each question is explored and as she advances the narrative through her drawings, we feel her fear and all the emotions that accompany the ultimate journey and, more importantly, what happens once they are settled. Life is about choices and The Best We Could Do is a beautiful story about redemption, parent-child understanding, and love. Published by UCLA, there is a great reader's guide in the front matter that asks the reader to reflect on ten questions. This wonderful graphic biography is perfect for older students to explore in the classroom, as well as a challenging and different adult book club selection. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Cheryl M.
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