The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir (Thi Bui)

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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.


This is an important book! I honestly don’t know what to say to convince you to read it, but please: READ THIS ONE! Buy it. Read it. Re-read it. Give it to your friends and family. Give it to your kids. Let them understand how wrong what is happening in the USA and the world is.

The Best We Could Do tells the story of the author’s, Thi Bui, journey to the US as a refugee in the midst of the Vietnam War, as well as her journey to understanding her parents, and what they went through.

First of all, the art is just so beautiful! It’s one of the first things I “see” in a graphic novel, because if the art is not appealing to you, it’s kind of hard to get into it, right? Well, this one is just gorgeous! Then the story is told in a very cool way, as it relates what Thi is feeling in her present life, and relating it to her upbringing and her parents’ experiences.

I have to say that I’m not well versed in Vietnam’s history. I’m from Portugal, born in the 80’s, and while here we know of the Vietnam’s war and everything that happened, it was always mentioned in a very superficial way, because at that moment we had other issues here in this country, such as a dictatorship of our own to learn about. The point is, I wasn’t aware of some of the things that happened, and the dynamics of what happened in WW2 and after. But I learned a lot while reading this book, because not only did it taught me, but it made me curious enough to go look online for more information.

screenshot_2017-01-30-10-13-46(gorgeous, right?!)

This is the main point of books for me, to expand our horizons. A book that makes you question, and learn, and curious for more? It’s something that everyone should read.

In a point in history when refugees are being demonized by ignorant people, it’s more important than ever to support this book. To learn from someone who was a refugee herself. To read a side than most of us won’t be able to completely understand, but we can empathise, and try to learn to do better. Right?

So, guys, this book will be out soon. Buy it, review it, share the word. Talk about it. READ IT!

Book Traveling Thursdays: A Book That Was a Big Surprise

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Hello, welcome back to another Book Traveling 168709Thursdays, which a weekly meme created by Cátia @The Girl Who Read Too Much and Danielle @Danielle’s Book Blog. The goal is to share the covers of a book related to that week’s theme, which you can see at the Goodreads group, indicating the original cover, the one of your country, your favorite and least favorite.

This week’s theme is “Choose a book that was a big surprise for you“. I’m cheating a bit here, and I’m using a book that’s not even out yet, and yet I think that you should know about it and add to your TBRs: The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui. Here the author tells her story, and her family’s, from how they grew up, to their escape from Vietnam due to the war, and how they settled in the USA. It’s beautiful and it’s important, especially in the current situation that is happening in the US and a bit all over the world. It doesn’t hurt that the illustrations are gorgeous too.


Original & Favorite COver:

Look at this beautiful cover! This is the only cover so far, but I do hope that they edit the book in several languages, but maintain this beautiful art. I was lucky enough to have been approved for an eARC on Netgalley, and the book comes out March 7th by Abrams ComicArts, if you’re interested.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood (Trevor Noah)

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The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of a young man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed

Trevor Noah is one of the comedy world’s brightest new voices, a light-footed but sharp-minded observer of the absurdities of politics, race, and identity, sharing jokes and insights drawn from the wealth of experience acquired in his relatively young life. As host of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, he provides viewers in America and around the globe with their nightly dose of biting satire, but here Noah turns his focus inward, giving readers a deeply personal, heartfelt, and humorous look at the world that shaped him.

Noah was born a crime, the son of a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother, at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the first years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, take him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle. 

A collection of eighteen personal essays, Born a Crime tells the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. Born a Crime is equally the story of that young man’s fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother — a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that ultimately threatens her own life. 

Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Noah illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and an unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a lovable delinquent making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed with only a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.


I first paid attention to Trevor Noah when he started being a correspondent on The Daily Show, and I loved him, so I was super happy when he got the gig and made it to the front desk on the show. So, when I saw a book on netgalley with his face, I just clicked “request”, eheh, without even knowing much of what it was about. Man… I’m glad I miraculously got approved for this one.

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After starting the book – and reading the title a little better – I realized that the focus of this one would be about Trevor’s life in South Africa, mainly during his childhood and the consequences of the apartheid. In case you don’t know what apartheid was, it was a system of racial segregation in South Africa enforced through legislation from 1948 to 1994.

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I don’t think most of us outside segregated countries can actually understand how a system like this would be, so while reading, and knowing beforehand about all of this – my mom DOES live in AfricaI was still shocked and saddened by the whole situation.

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I think that Trevor was able to explain the system pretty well, especially how it was for him being a mixed child, because mixed children weren’t supposed to exist during apartheid… it was forbidden by law for white and black people to have intimate relations, and a mixed child was proof of exactly that, a crime!

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It was really interesting to read about Trevor’s life and about his hurricane of a mother. Seriously people, his mom MADE him. It’s impressive, so impressive, and there is no doubt in my mind that the way she raised him and pushed him, brought him to where he is today.

At the same time, while telling a very serious story of segregation, poverty, etc, the book is also funny as hell. Trevor Noah writes the way he talks, so there’s humour everywhere, even in the most dire situations. And Trevor’s humour is awesome, even if inappropriate at times, eheh. I had a fit of laughter inside a plane, because of one particular even when he was about 5 years old… yeah… that was hilarious!

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This was an excellent biography, I just had a couple of problems (small ones) about it. First of all, the book starts out strong, and then it gets confusing. This happens because it goes back and forth in time a couple of times, which happens a lot in memoirs, but here it took me a bit to get a grip on it, and it seemed like it could go through another round of editing, maybe?! Because it felt like it was all over the place for awhile… I don’t know… it felt a bit off in the beginning, but then the book gained speed and I loved it.

Another issue I had, and this has very little to do with the book itself, is the fact that it covers very little from Trevor Noah’s adult life. I wished that his transition from DJ to stand up was covered, or even mentioned, but it’s not. Several events occur when he’s already doing stand up all over the world, but there’s no “so, this is how it came to be” moment, and I missed that.

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Overall, this was an excellent biography, with a huge focus on the South African society during and post-Apartheid. It also focus a lot on the issue of belonging, related to the effects of the segregation. I think this is such an important read! I honestly have to recommend it to everyone, whether or not you love Trevor Noah, you should read it. He talks about a reality that I think most people are not truly aware of, so read this, get informed, laugh a bit while doing it. Have fun while learning :D.

Read this one!