First Graphic Novel Selected for Reading TUgether Program | Trinity University

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First Graphic Novel Selected for Reading TUgether Program

Friday, June 5, 2020
book cover with text reading tugether 2020

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir is 2020 Reading TUgether Book

by Sydney Rhodes '23

Trinity University’s Reading TUgether program presents an opportunity for the larger Trinity community of students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni to engage with literature as a joint reading experience this summer. Though life looks a little different for everyone this year, the Reading TUgether program is the perfect way to spend your extra time and encounter Thi Bui’s world as she showcases her family’s exodus from Vietnam in her illustrated autobiography, The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir.

The graphic novel displays Bui’s journey as her family immigrates from Vietnam and poignantly depicts the struggles of growing up as a refugee. 

Michael Soto, associate vice president for Academic Affairs and professor of English, serves on the Reading TUgether selection committee. He says The Best We Could Do was chosen to “give students a glimpse of an extraordinary family's epic journey out of war-torn Asia to the United States." He describes the book as "visually stunning" and "a masterful tapestry of history and personal narrative."

Soto believes that The Best We Could Do provides “a thrilling model for how family history and visual storytelling might give us entry into a wide range of disciplines explored at Trinity, from history to art to East Asian studies."

Typically, the author of each Reading TUgether book holds a lecture at the beginning of the fall semester for first-year students and the general public. Because of the current social distancing recommendations with the COVID-19 pandemic, event information will be announced at a later date.

First-year Trinity students are required to read the Reading TUgether selection as part of New Student Orientation. In addition to attending the address, the incoming students will complete a short, online summer research assignment that delves more deeply into the text.

The Best We Could Do was Bui’s debut piece, and the graphic novel was recognized with the American Book Award not long after its publication in 2017. Bui has published one other book since then, a children’s book titled A Different Pond. 

In recent years, Reading TUgether books have included Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss, On Immunity: An Innoculation by Eula Biss, Anatomy of Injustice: A Murder Case Gone Wrong by Raymond Bonner, and The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee.