Non Fiction: Illustrated memoir
Tone: Realistic, emotional, graphic (comic book style) illustrations and story
Take Away: After the birth of her child, Thi Bui attempts to form a closer connection with her own parents, refugees of South Vietnam. Her memoir details the history of the Vietnamese conflict as well as the family’s harrowing escape and relocation to the United States. As she learns her parents’ stories, she eventually understands their reticence and the emotional toll extracted by their experiences.
How I discovered this title: The Best We Could Do is the featured work for Seattle Reads: 2019, an annual program offered by the Seattle Public Library.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I seldom read graphic novels, but Thi Bui’s use of the format is both beautiful and eloquent. Her succinct drawing of the history of Vietnam’s political conflict would have taken pages and pages of written prose. Would I have read ALL those words? Maybe, but her illustrations made the conflict much easier to understand and remember.
Her portrayal of her family’s escape from South Vietnam, her upbringing in the United States, and her own journey into parenthood is gripping and uplifting. Even though I’m not a refugee or an immigrant, I am a daughter, and a mother. I understand the shift in parental relationships that occurs after the birth of a child. I applaud her for sharing her honest emotions, reactions, and family history.
Seattle Reads often challenges me to read a book I might not otherwise choose. I enjoy the opportunity to stretch my literary comfort zone. The library also offers community presentations, lectures and discussion groups. If you are in the Seattle area, click here to learn more about upcoming events featuring Thi Bui. If you don’t live in the Seattle area, I highly recommend this memoir. It is a must read
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