Graphic novels are really not my thing. But this is the first one I've read that *felt* more like an illustrated novel than a comic book. Or at least, illustrated short story. It might be because this one has as much narrative structure as dialogue and very little action, so the artwork seemed more for building atmosphere and mimicking a sort of stop-motion movie drama, like extreme closeups, rather than depicting characters in action with voice bubbles over their heads.
The artwork is strange but compelling. The story is strange but compelling. And the ending is... unsatisfactorily unresolved.
Paperback, picked up on a whim at a Friends of the Library sale, because the author is Neil Gaiman.
I read this for the 24 Festive Tasks 2019 for Door 2 Japanese Culture Day (Nov. 3): Read a graphic novel or a book set in a school or academic setting.
I had planned on using In Such Good Company: Eleven Years of Laughter, Mayhem, and Fun in the Sandbox - Carol Burnett for the Festivus door, and even started it last night after I finished Firestarter - Stephen King,Dennis Boutsikaris, but then while I was browsing Half Price Books while waiting on friends for dinner, I came across this and had to have it. Then I opened it to read couple comics and just kept reading! So I think I will use this for Festivus instead.
Thanks to some challenges I found in recent years (and directions from the web on how to read them,) I've finally taken graphic novels/comics as something I could understand and perhaps even like. This graphic memoir is a nice example of why it's worthwhile to open my TBR list up to yet another genre. (I can be poorly read in many genres!)
Thi Bui is an American kid born in Viet Nam. When the memoir opens, she's having her first child. As many parents will tell you, this is a time that often brings our own childhoods into focus. Her story is different from the stereotypical strict immigration story, and through the memoir we see that the family history is indelibly marked by Viet Nam's history and her parents stories are marked by their parents' stories. It's easy to get tied in a knot when we find fault with our parents. It's clear from her pictures and words that there was some anger and confusion exorcised by writing this memoir. While she may have been able to lay blame at one time, her title states her final view. It's Thi Bui's unique story with lots of room for empathizing readers.
Her simple-yet-resonant art conveys the emotional impact of her words. The combination is effective and moving. I lingered over this book for weeks, searching the pictures and immersing myself in her story (until the library demanded I return their copy.) If you, like me, aren't comfortable with comics or graphic novels, this might be a place to start for those who like memoirs or history or both.