TW: death, war, murder, death of a child, and PTSD
They taught us to be respectful, to take care of one another, and to do well in school. Those were the intended lessons. The unintentional ones came from their unexcorcised demons… and from the habits they formed over so many years of trying to survive.
This was such a beautiful book. Seriously.
I was drawn to this book (not just because I got it for free from a friend who goes to UCLA) because of the story of a family’s life. This takes place in Vietnam through the turmoil of constant regime change, even before the Vietnam War took place.
This is such a difficult book to describe because it doesn’t follow the author’s journey per say. It mainly follows her parents and their experiences with how they grew up in a country that was unstable. They had two different lives but the same outcome, living in constant fear and doing their best to survive no matter what life brought them.
Her mother came from a privileged family who was in agreement with the French government. Her father lived in two different lives; one with his grandparents who had a French affinity and one with his father who was against the French government. But, in the end, both were enemies of the government, forced to flee and hide with kids in tow.
And, this book is about how their life experiences informed how they raised their children to live and be. And how perhaps it wasn’t the best way to raise kids. But, as the title says, it was the best they could do. No matter what, they did the best they could do.
It was also about the author having a child and reflecting on her parents, as most new parents do. Deciding what to change, what to keep, what to keep the same from their own childhood. And finally seeing their parents in a new light.
While my description of the book pales in comparison, I highly recommend it. It was a beautifully told story, but also so hard to read at times because of the subject matter.