The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

My Rating: 5 brilliant and shining stars ✨ 

Publisher: ABRAMS

Publish Date: March 7th, 2017

Received: Ebook Arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Pre-order: Abrams Books/ Amazon 

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.


My God this book is gorgeous! The second I started reading I could not put this down, which has honestly been something of a rarity for me recently. The illustrations were in a single word, breathtaking, and they told the story with more depth then would have been possible in words alone. I had never heard of a memoir being written in this way before and this book has convinced me that graphic novels can be a perfect avenue to tell a personal story and to tell it well. 

However, this book is not all just beauty, I can’t stress enough how important this novel is. Thi’s story is the narrative that we all need to read about in America and around the world today. It is a story of one families journey from Vietnam to America, but it is also so much more. This book breathes out the true history of what it was like in those times for those living in Vietnam and it is done with grace. I felt utter horror at some of the atrocities that occurred during that time. In America, you get such a narrow view it is disgusting, but this, this can take that view widen and deepen it until you realize that there is so much more to it than you could ever hope to know. It creates a humility in the mind and a tenderness in the heart for those immigrants and refugees that out there in the world today. It is unapologetic in its truth. Something that garners my full respect. 

This novel also has to do with being human. With dealing with family relationships and trying to find where your meant to be through the past that has colored your present and future for better or for worst. It is about mothers and the strength a woman has regardless what is happening around her to do what is necessary. It is also one of the most honest representations of pregnancy and the fears a mother may have prior, during, and after that I have ever read. 

One of my favorite parts of this novel is how Thi writes about her father. In a way this book was an outlet through which she began to truly understand her father and as she spoke of her talks with him built up their relationship and released a fear. Her father is a voice that is troubled yet so full of strength. The things he had seen and the troubles he went through created a huge impact on me. 

Thi’s mother had the same importance with a totally different perspective on how life was like. Her privileged beginnings at a what was a prestigious French school with a father who loved her dearly painted a beautiful yet almost hard picture of who she was. On many points her mother inspired me. She is the embodiment of a strong woman, who does all she can for her family. 

The one last gift this book gave to me was the reminder that no matter who you are, where you came from, or what your dreams, you have a family and a life that is human and at the core not so different from my own or anyone else’s. Love is love no matter the form. Every person has a right to be here. All humans have a right to a place this world. 

Thank you all for reading! I urge you to take a look at this book, it is such an important novel during these and all times. I am in such awe with this book and it is quite possibly may be the best book I have and will read this year. Let me know what you think of this book down in the comments. Also what graphic novels would you recommend for me to read soon? 

Till next time!

13 thoughts on “The Best We Could Do: A Review 

    1. It is amazing! I really believe that it would be right up your alley, especially knowing several of the books I’ve seen you review. It is truly gorgeous, personal, and important. I hope you read it sometime soon!


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