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'The Best We Could Do': A Memoir of One Vietnamese Family’s Journey to America

At a time when the United States is grappling with its stance on immigration, the memoir of a Vietnamese-American writer has given a human face to the country's refugees.

Released earlier this month, Thi Bui’s illustrated memoir The Best We Could Do has received ample praise from writers, literary critics and readers alike for its honest, matter-of-fact style. The book, framed around Bui’s attempt to make sense of her family’s past, documents the journey she made with her parents in 1978 from Vietnam to the United States.

According to The Comics Journal, Bui first began recording her family history after a visit to Vietnam in her early 20s. Because the gap between her own experience in the United States seemed so far from the lives of her parents in Vietnam, Bui sought to bridge these two eras by delving into the transition period in between.

The generational divide between Bui and her parents features heavily in The Best We Could Do, as the first-time author highlights differences in opinion and upbringing among parents and children.

“I wrote [the book] from a place of empathy and trying to understand my parents as human beings rather than as just my parents,” Bui said in an interview with NBC.

While creating The Best We Could Do, Bui faced a number of challenges, including learning how to draw comics. Now a lecturer on the subject at the California College of the Arts, Bui is currently illustrating the children’s book A Different Pondby Vietnamese-American poet Bao Phi, which is due to be released in August of this year.

[Photo via Twitter user Thi Bui]


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