Around the World in 80 Books discussion

VIETNAM: The Best We Could Do > As You Read - What are you thinking about The Best We Could Do?

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Cait (new)

Cait | 150 comments Mod
Thoughts as you read The Best We Could Do?

message 2: by Sylvia (new)

Sylvia Bull | 18 comments I’m enjoying it so far. Her style is quite raw, which is very effective, and I’m loving the placement of the text in a lot of places.

message 3: by Claire (new)

Claire | 96 comments Loved this graphic novel! I checked it out from the library and read it way ahead of time since I’m not sure what the book (in English) situation will be like once I move to Amsterdam. Dropping some thoughts here while it’s still fresh in my mind:

* First book I’ve read that covers the First Indochina War in addition to the Vietnam War. I also think it did a good job with some nuances of colonialism (and not just French, also Japanese). Even though Bui’s family (especially on her mother’s side) was quite privileged, they also had to suck up to the French (like in the story of her father going nearly mad having to pretend to defer to a mediocre boss).
* LOVED the use of shadows in the art to represent the lingering effects of her family’s refugee trauma on her own life as a first generation immigrant: The darkness in her house in the US, her father’s long shadow in a chair, the part where she stands in her father’s literal shadow, the night sky as they’re escaping by a boat, etc.
* It was an interesting choice to have the art be red and black (and white) but no other colors.
* Appreciated learning some of the back story of that iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning photo “Saigon Execution” from the Vietnam War. The situation (including the war overall) was much more complicated than many Americans have been led to believe.
* Great depiction of the scariness of birthing and certain aspects like how breast feeding is not automatic and needs to be learned (which sadly is not widely discussed, especially not in literature).
* The graphic novel format was great for this story. It really adds to see the boats, the immigration photos, etc. (and it's impressively vivid given that she was either not born yet or too young to remember the details through much of it). Beautiful and consistent art. Her drawings of herself (even as a small child) look so accurate, and you can really see the resemblance with her mother!
* Reminded me a lot of Fun Home (because of the analysis of both mother and father and Bui’s relationship with each, in graphic novel format) and The Latehomecomer recommended by Cait. :)

message 4: by Cait (new)

Cait | 150 comments Mod
Friends, I finally finished this one! I've been really really bad at reading lately, but book was amazing. Rarely do I so thoroughly agree with book blurbs, but Viet Thanh Nguyen's statement "this book will break your heart and heal it" was a pretty perfect synopsis for me.

I thought Bui did an amazing job conveying "the best we could do" - she was so frank but also thoughtful in how she portrayed the story of her family and the continuing impact of trauma.

I also loved the art so much - her color choices and style, the motif with her swimming at the beginning and her son at the end.

All in all, amazing, beautiful book, I'm so glad I finally got around to reading it!

message 5: by Becki (new)

Becki Iverson | 81 comments I read this a while ago which is why I haven't been commenting - but I echo everyone's sentiments! I loved this book and I thought the graphic novel format was especially compelling with this subject matter. I'm so excited to see more books moved into that format, I think it really opens literature up to new audiences. This book inspired me to order a fleet of similar books which are now piling up on my shelf... can't wait to learn more, especially because of the vibrant Hmong population here that I am so ashamedly ignorant about!

back to top