When you think you live in a Norman Rockwell painting—married 18 years, three kids, beautiful old house in the country, successful career as a writer—you don’t expect there’s another side to the canvas. Until you read a lovesick e-mail to your husband . . . that didn’t come from you! Good Riddance is an honest and funny graphic memoir about suffering through and surviving divorce. New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Copeland chronicles the deep pain, confusion, awkwardness, and breakthroughs she experiences in the “new normal” as a wife who’s been deceived, a mom who’s now single, a divorcée who’s dating, and a woman who’s on her own figuring out what she truly wants from her life. Copeland tells her story with an emotional candor and spot-on humor that makes Good Riddance poignant, painful, and hilarious all at once.
Using the graphic novel / memoir format, Cynthia Copeland unveils the story of her marriage of 18 years, and the subsequent divorce after discovering her husband had been unfaithful. Copeland shares her story with readers a decade after things first went down, but some of the emotions that are wrapped up in such an event prove universal and timelessly relatable.
Copeland explains the guilt she had to learn to work through, coming from a family where no one had divorced before, as well as the secret stress and anxiety she shouldered while trying to protect her young children from the truth of why mom and dad weren't going to live together anymore.
This story is no different from other divorce memoirs you've read in the way it conveys that there are no real winners in this kind of life upheaval. Copeland paints her husband as a selfish, immature man possibly suffering a mid-life crisis. Trying to recapture his youth yet still keep close to his wife, his actions were that of someone trying to have their cake and eat it too. He seemed more concerned with being "cool dad" than responsible grown up. Copeland makes it clear she wasn't having it, but at the same time some of her actions towards him struck me as tiptoeing into control freak territory. or such a tough topic, the choice of cool blue-grey tones on the art were strangely calming. Don't know if that was intentional or not... regardless, it was kinda nice, diffused the tougher moments a bit. The blue tones combined with the art style itself ... something about it brought to mind vintage hospital pamphlets!
I read this for one of my summer classes. We had to read and annotate 10 comics/graphic novels. Here's the annotation I wrote for that class:
The Best We Could Do tells the story of Thi Bui’s family from their lives in Vietnam to their time as refugees in Malaysia to their resettling in the United States all framed by the story of Bui’s journey into motherhood. The result is both a specific, personal reflection of the author’s own family and a larger, more universal search for identity and belonging.
Bui utilizes one single color throughout the entire story. The red she chooses moves between seeming harsh, angry, and dangerous to soft, warm and welcoming. Sometimes it floods the entire page while at other times it is very contained, highlighting one specific moment, one person, one element on the page or in the panel.
In the book, Bui searches for the truth of her parents and their lives and only has their stories to guide her. There are many interesting uses of panels and the gutter throughout the book. The more innovative pages seem to be emphasizing the fact that these are impressions rather than literal interpretations of the past. An inanimate hand reaches across the gutter ominously. A boat drifts into a panel from an undefined place. Family memories are layered over images of war, unrest, and change occurring in Vietnam.
Even though The Best We Could Do was only published last year (2017), I can see it securing a spot in the graphic novel canon and being read for many years to come.
Overall this book is boring. There's really nothing that happens except taking strolls, playing cards and having balls/parties. Of course there's talking, lots of talking.
That being said there's a lot here that modern romance and YA novels can learn here.
First of all Elizabeth (the MC) never doubts her beauty and it's Darcy making a snide remark about her that makes Lizzy hate Mr. Darcy.
Also here we have the male falling into basic "insta-love" after he sees Lizzy a few times. Her on the other hand is of course hating him as he is NOT making himself a good person.
Lizzy also is one to speak her mind and tell him off as well as his mother. She's not a shrinking violet that most female main characters are. She doesn't let people treat her as a doormat. Another thing to be taken from this book.
Now another thing is that after Lizzy reject Darcy';s marriage proposal, he doesn't keep harassing her to get a yes, that most books do. Nor does he do ONE good thing in saving her life that she suddenly likes him for. He actually works to build her trust back up.
Where he told Mr. Bingley to give up on Jane, he rectifies this by telling him the found truth. He helps Lydia out when she runs off with Wickman to "save her honour". He also discharges some of Wickmans debt so Lydia can live better. (They don't as both of them pretty much waste all thier money frivolously). It's also only after these things that Lizzy starts to like and then love Mr. Darcy. So a good half of the book she hates him.
Most of the love interests are assholes and remain assholes and we are supposed to love them for this.
Finally Lizzy gets to tell Darcy's mom off after she insults her and her family. Most modern MCs just roll over and take it. This also doesn't affect the way Mr. Darcy views Lizzy in any negative way.
The parts which should be left behind are of course the whole "women as property" and the "marriage for status". Also it says that Lizzy is "poor" but she has a few servants so we know she isn't that poor. Just a poor noble. Also there's talk about hos women are a certain way and of course Lydia running of with a man "ruins her" as if she was some object to be used. Also the fact that Lydia is 16 and Wickman is 25 is pretty gross.
Also there's no real plot to speak of other than talking and talking and more talking. The only point of this talking is to get the girls married. There's no real big thing. You can call this book a slice of life in that regard.
Overall there's a lot modern books can get from this book, but leave the past garbage in the past.