The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir

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Product Details
$19.99  $18.59
Abrams Comicarts
Publish Date
6.5 X 8.9 X 1.2 inches | 1.55 pounds

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About the Author
Thi Bui was born in Việt Nam three months before the end of the American 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 Work, 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, Reveal News, PEN America, and BOOM California. 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. Bui lives in the Bay Area.

"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."-- "Library Journal (starred review)"

"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."-- "Booklist (starred review)"

"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... In this mélange of comedy and tragedy, family love and brokenness, she finds beauty."-- "Publishers Weekly (starred review)"

"A moving, visually stimulating account of the author's personal story and an insightful look at the refugee experience, juxtaposed against Vietnam's turbulent history. "-- "Shelf Awareness (starred review)"
"A powerful and intimate look at the modern immigrant experience in America."-- "ICv2"
"This bold, brutal book is the new calligraphy--an exquisite marriage of alphabet and imagery. Each sentence, each scene, and each story breaks down a country, a family, and a father. Then, frame by frame, with artistic vigor and monastic devotion, Thi Bui rebuilds a world in which guilt conquers grief and gratitude becomes not only a guide, but our new Deity. The Best We Could Do teaches us how to say no to fear and yes to truth."--Fae Myenne Ng "author of Bone, a PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist, Steer Toward Rock, winner of the American Book Award"
"Thi Bui's book took my breath away. In a time of continuing refugee crisis, its message is necessary. The Best We Could Do expands one family's personal story into a global, historic context, while condensing generations of war in Vietnam to intimate and human proportions. Beautiful and powerful."--Craig Thompson "author and illustrator of Blankets and Habibi"
Thi Bui's stark, compelling memoir is about an ordinary family, but her story delivers the painful truth that most Vietnamese of the 20th century know in an utterly personal fashion--that history is found in the marrow of one's bones, ready to be passed on through blood, through generations, through feelings. A book to break your heart and heal it.--Viet Thanh Nguyen "Pulitzer Prize winning novelist"
"By knowing our parents' story we come to a better understanding of who we are; by living our own version of their story, that understanding is even deeper and more illuminating. In The Best We Could Do, Thi's exploration of becoming a mother in the shadow of her own parents' history is Thi drawing her past to write her future. It's a story that I--as a child turned parent myself--found emotional, introspective, and a cautionary tale of what we pass to our next generation."--GB Tran "author and illustrator of Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey"
"Thi Bui's The Best We Could Do is a nuanced, multilayered tribute to a family that has lost as much as it has gained. Bui interprets her family's demons with generosity and compassion, and she is keen to understand how the roots of trauma and conflict can grow decades later, thousands of miles away. Infused with Vietnam's tumultuous history, Bui's memoir reflects her family's experience against the larger context of war, poverty, and dislocation, and then pulls back, showing how these heavy matters affect life at home in the quieter days that follow. The Best We Could Do is a beautiful, affecting union of memoir and illustration."--Cecily Wong "author of Diamond Head: A Novel"
"With great mastery of writing and drawing, Thi Bui shows the consequences of war lasting from generation to generation. The Best We Could Do honors Vietnam the way Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis honors Iran. And it's fun to read too."--Maxine Hong Kingston "author of The Fifth Book of Peace and I Love a Broad Margin to My Life"
"The Best We Could Do is a story of massive, sweeping scale told through quiet moments of complex emotion and intimacy. Thi Bui paints the portrait of a single family across three generations, as many continents, and thousands of panels without one false stroke of the brush. Her penetrating examination of family and identity is at once unsentimental and deeply felt, familiar and unlike any other graphic novel you have read. Comics don't get much better than The Best We could Do."--Jake Wyatt "author and illustrator of Necropolis and Ms. Marvel"
"...a cinematic epic that poignantly tracks several generations through immigration and emotional dislocation. At its best, this memoir feels not just created but also deeply lived."--Michael Cavna "The Washington Post"
"One of the most anticipated graphic memoirs of 2017 is debut author Thi Bui's The Best We Could Do, an illustrated memoir about her family's journey from South Vietnam in the 1970s, her experience of first-time motherhood, and how places really do shape one's identity."-- "Bustle"
"Bonus: The entire memoir is illustrated."-- "The Huffington Post"
"Timely and poignant..." -- "Entertainment Weekly"