the best we could do by Thi Bui

I received my copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for a review.

336 pages
Expected publication: March 7th 2017 by Abrams ComicArts

The story follows an immigrant family from Vietnam, which moved to America. it all begins with Thi’s  labor and the cultural differences to overcome by her own mother who is there with her to welcome her first grandchild, but molded by her own traditional ways stays away from her daughter who is giving birth.her mother also finds it strange that her daughters husband is present at the birth of his child.

the second chapter describes the Asian custom that people don’t live or sleep together even in the same room before they get married. for the mother its hard to accept that her daughter would move in together with her boyfriend, and she denies speaking to Lan’s, the main character’s sister’s boyfriend, later husband, after her daughter is moved in together with him.

the cultural traditions go as far as to disown the eldest daughter of the 6 kids, named Bich, after she runs away from home because her mother doesn’t allow her relationship with her high school sweetheart.

The comic describes the family with the strict parents and 5 girls and a boy. it tells the story of how the escaped from Vietnam.

She describes her cold feelings towards her family even though she ought to be grateful her own resentment closes her off to be more stubborn and pry open the layers her parents had to build on in order to survive in the foreign world.

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The art style is realistic and I very much loved how it described real people with flaws and deformities not picture perfect shapes and sizes.

The story tells the difference in the upbringing of Thi’s parents and how her father who was growing up in the north where the war took for the worse and her mom who lived in the south where she was sheltered and in a rich environment. They both learned how to swim but the difference was Earth and Moon even though they lived in the same country at the same time.

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the comic does involve and explain the behind reasons of famous photographs such as the liberation day of Sai Gon and the Sai gon execution. it does give detailed description of the Vietnam war and the pov of the Vietnamese people who lived through it.

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the most extraordinary part in it the one when they already make a living in America and due to an accident the neighbors oxigen tanks explode and fire emits from a burning cigarette. it is so gripping that people’s first reaction would be to panic but Thi’s family’s was to get their documents and a wet cloth and evacuate.

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I loved small things like word plays : for example Jaundice can mean two things :

  1. a medical condition with yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, arising from excess of the pigment bilirubin and typically caused by obstruction of the bile duct, by liver disease, or by excessive breakdown of red blood cells.
  2.  
    bitterness, resentment, or cynicism.

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it has morals everyone at least once thought about and valued or deemed unworthy of paying mind to it. reviewing a memoir seems quite bit unfair because this isn’t a work of fiction where you can either like or dislike how the “plot” turned out. however, I loved it. even though it was slow around the middle and made me look up the historical pictures and whatnot it was really eyeopening and I’m glad I’ve read it.

 

 

 

 

 

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