Book Title: The Best We Could Do
Author: Thi Bui
Themes: Diversity, Immigrant Experience, Own Voices
Goodreads Link: Click here
Star Rating: – Wonderful graphic novel!
Disclaimer: I received this book free from the publisher.
Once I started reading this beautiful little book I really had trouble putting it down. It’s a heartfelt graphic novel whose artwork flows easily along the pages. You get going and by the time you look up at the clock it’s way past bedtime, and you’re already halfway through. At least that was my experience. I am including a few photos of artwork in this book because I think it’s necessary to display the delicate hand that the artist uses to express the complicated emotions found in this book. Please, bear with my terrible camera skills. I didn’t want to damage the book by bending the pages back too far so they are a little slanted.
Thi Bui is a young woman who about to have her first child. Becoming a parent is frightening. Being introduced to this brand new person inspires so much love, tempered with the weight of incredible responsibility. She reaches back to her own experience as a child and to the difficult relationships she has with both her mother and father.
She and her family were refugee immigrants to America after the Vietnam War ended. She was very small at the time and doesn’t remember much. She knows her parents carry the weight of those harrowing experiences and the years before they left their motherland. She hopes by understanding her parents better she can gain more confidence in her ability to parent her own child.
As you can see in the artwork, the author’s skill in expressing the subtle emotions at play in her parents story is wonderful to see. It took a while for me to realize that her mother and father are actually lying beside one another. She on a bed and he is on the floor. The “ditch” between the panels creates a distance and the space between them speaks volumes. They are both committed to protecting their children, and running from Vietnam, but also separate.
When I came to this page it was I stunning. There were the real people behind the “story” that has been playing out on the pages. It is a good reminder that every immigrant story is about real people … frightened, hopeful, determined people. We owe them our assistance and care. “There but for the grace of god go I” as the saying goes. How is it possible to look in the eyes of those people and refuse to help them as they flee hunger, fear and death?
Books like The Best We Could Do remind us why it is important to relate immigrant stories. It is vital to give platforms to #ownvoices so that they can express their stories. In that way we are reminded, what use is the freedom we cherish if we will not use it to help others?
I am thankful to the publisher for sending me this book, and I have been very careful not to damage it while reading since I really want to use it for a giveaway. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.
Please click here for giveaway details … good luck!
Bonus Link: Click here for additional pictures and pronunciation guide.
Song for this book: Carry That Weight by The Beatles