The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

best we could do

I understand enough of Viet Nam’s history now to know that the ground beneath my parents’ feet had always been shifting…so that by the time I was born, Viet Nam was not my country at all. I was only a small part of it.

Thi Bui’s illustrated memoir The Best We Could Do is the first “graphic” book I’ve read. It’s her story of how she was brought to the United States from Vietnam by her parents along with her siblings. She also includes the stories of her parents and grandparents as they grew up in Vietnam.

One small incident that stood out to me involved the books her family owned in Vietnam. After Saigon was captured by North Vietnam, Bui’s mother told her older sisters to quickly read the banned books before they had to burn them for fear of communist soldiers discovering them. Interesting that reading books was that important to them.

Just like Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizerthis story is neither pro-West nor pro-East. One might simply call it pro-family or pro-humanity. It’s quite a beautiful story both in words and pictures.