I'm from the UK, so the Vietnam war isn't really part of our collective memory - we know about it from war movies or news articles or books, but I don't know anyone who fought there. A long time ago I used to work with an Australian woman whose parents fled to Australia from Vietnam, but because I was younger and more self-absorbed and worried about seeming too prying, I never asked her anything about it.
The Best We Can Do has taught me a lot about the history of Vietnam and what the Vietnamese people on both sides of the conflict went through, as well as the aftermath, and in doing so I think it's taught me more about what refugees in general go through. Books like this make you feel so lucky to be living the life you do. There's a bit at the end that shows the actual refugee documentation photos that were taken of Thi and her family in a camp in Malaysia and I think that was the bit that affected me most of all.
As well as being a book about the impact of war and refugee status on families, this is also a book about becoming a parent and the changes it wreaks on your life.
I could hear echoes of my mother's voice speaking to me in my own childhood ... but I could feel the voice coming from my own throat.
This is such a mum thing to think and I can remember thinking exactly the same thing when my own children were born.
And the illustrations in this book are exquisite. Just, so beautiful. They're done in a kind of pen and ink / watercolour style and I could have sat looking at them all day.
Recommended for everyone, but I think this will especially strike a chord with parents.