The Best We Could Do - Thi Bui

The Best We Could Do

By Thi Bui

  • Release Date: 2017-03-07
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 4.5
From 170 Ratings


National bestseller
2017 National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Finalist
ABA Indies Introduce Winter / Spring 2017 Selection
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Spring 2017 Selection
ALA 2018 Notable Books Selection

An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam, from debut author Thi Bui
This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.
At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.
In what Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “a book to break your heart and heal it,” The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui’s journey of understanding, and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.


  • A new kind of oral history.

    By Richard Bakare
    The legacy of the oral history as the memory book of collective experience is reimagined in this graphic novel. Through the illustrated representations, we get both a heart breaking and uplifting glimpse into the immigrant experience. With nothing left out but still preserving the space between for the imagination to fill in the blanks. Thi Bui’s account of her family’s journey leaves you yearning to collect an oral or written history of your own family’s path to how you got here. And as she asks, leaves you wondering how much of the history ends up imbedded inside you? The beautiful, the sad, the incomplete? Additionally, what parts can you rewrite for the next generation? That reimagining is particularly important when dealing with hidden traumas that were left I dealt with. As Bui imagines, these untold struggles become the demons that haunt the family through multiple generations. The very act of collecting and sharing these fears in this format is a sort of cathartic release from the PTSD of their life in Vietnam all the way through present day. A truly moving memoir.
  • Easy to Read!

    By LindaLamSF
    Thank you for writing and illustrating such an incredible comic book. I’ve never read comic books before and this was easy. I’ve been very into Vietnamese refugee stories as there’s not many out there and wished there were more. I can definitely relate. I definitely think it’s hard for my parents and my grandma to try and tell us these stories as it forces them to reminisce about the past. My grandma was always bitter and I never understood why until I thought about what she went through. The Japanese war definitely traumatized her, her mom hung herself shortly after her brother died from the heavy beatings from the communist. When my grandma moved to Vietnam she had to live through more wars before coming to the states. I’ve always known I’m incredibly blessed because of them, we definitely have it way easier. Thank you for sharing!
  • Incredible!

    By Antonellaborjas
    Shows the story of a woman finding out her parents past and showing how much they struggled as Vietnamese immigrants. Through loss, grief, and happiness in small moments. She learns what it’s like to be a parent in tough circumstances after having her child. Improving relationships with family, as life is finite. Marvelous!!
  • Lovely

    By Tsdgkkgfiffjorfbkdd368
    Beautifully honest
  • in awe

    By sapepe
    it completely enveloped me from the second i started readinf and i read for hours straight non stop until i finished it. i have a deeper understanding of how complex everything is always.
  • A beautiful story

    By rokinrev
    [I am choosing to review this graphic novel voluntarily after I received it from Abrams books as part of a giveaway] "The struggle to bring life into this world is rewarded by [the cry of a baby]. It is a single minded effort uncluttered and clear in it's objective. What follows afterward- that is, the rest of the child's life - is another story." Thi Bui and her family were refugees from Vietnam at the end of the War. Through her drawings and writing which she began in order to understand her roots in the story of her parents, the heartbreaking descriptions of fleeing her homeland and the hope for a better life in a country who was in part the reason she had to flee to be able to have a chance of any kind. This is the story of Bui and her family and how they diligently survived in Vietnam and escaped to America. It is seen and told through the eyes of a woman with a son of her own who began to understand just what survival and thriving is to a refugee family cobbled together and torn apart by conflicts both public and private over life spans is a labyrinth of war and peace, money and poverty, mercy and anger. Sparse prose and beautiful drawn graphics haunt the reader as the story unfolds and reflects courage and despair. The cover calls this book "an illustrated memoir" that her publisher presents in lovely format. This is a much different kind of graphic memory that will stay with you in its simplicity and haunt you with its beauty. 4 stars