This is what I expected: An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam, from debut author Thi Bui. In the end those expectations came true, but it took quite a long time for that to be fulfilled. I almost thought it wouldn’t happen.
Well this turned out to be better than it was in the beginning. As soon as the stories about Vietnam really took flight, and we saw their journey out of Vietnam it started to get better and better. Still I won’t rate this high because I was bored for at least 1/3 of the story.
And really, one birth is more than enough for me, I don’t need to see x numbers of gruesome labours. I know it was needed to tell the whole family history, but really. Eventually I started to think the births would just continue all the time.
Also everything was just so mixed together, I am sure it is supposed to make sense, but it was jarring for me to see how we went from present, past, past, present, semi-present, past again and then it stayed past. I know she is interviewing her parents, but still it was a bit jarring.
I didn’t quite like the parents, with how they treated their kids (especially when they had boyfriends, I know different values and ideas, but really it just made me want to scream at my screen) nor did I quite approve of the dad’s way of raising his kids, if you would call it that. There is something highly wrong if one of your kids hides in a closet for hours, holds his bowels so he doesn’t have to poop/pee. And then the other kid is learning all about supernatural stuff and disturbing imagery. What?
Later on, during the Vietnam parts I did see that they were good parents and that thanks to all the things they went through they had their own stiff standards and were still solely focused on impressions and surviving, but those parts of the US had already coloured my view of them.
But I have to say that in the end it was still quite a beautiful memoir. It was sad, it was heartbreaking, it was lovely.
The illustrations were quite nice, and they fitted perfectly with the story. Plus I liked the colourscheme of white and orange.
However I just can’t rate this one higher than 2.5 stars.