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Two Book Reviews: Final Draft by Riley Redgate and The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

* I am reviewing this book in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own. *

Final DraftTitle: Final Draft
Author: Riley Redgate
Publisher: Abrams & Chronicle 
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5 stars

Book Summary:

Laila Piedra doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, and definitely doesn’t sneak into the 21-and-over clubs on the Lower East Side. The only sort of risk Laila enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before graduation, Laila’s number one fan is replaced by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who sees nothing at all special about Laila’s writing. A growing obsession with gaining Nazarenko’s approval―and fixing her first-ever failing grade―leads to a series of unexpected adventures. Soon Laila is discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, and the beauty of temporary flings and ambiguity. But with her sanity and happiness on the line, Laila must figure out if enduring the unendurable really is the only way to greatness.

Book Review:

When I first heard about Final Draft I was so excited about the concept as it kind of reminded me of Whiplash one of my favourite films. Although this is kind of similar Final Draft is so much more than being compared to Whiplash. Both are amazing in their own right and should be read and watched by many. Final Draft is one of my favourite books of the year. I devoured it. I loved it. I want everyone to read it. 

I think that one of the main reasons why I loved Final Draft was because I loved the idea of a book centred around writing and to me, this really works. Laila is told by her teacher that her writing is perfect but this changes when something happens and her teacher is replaced. Her writing then has flaws. It's not perfect. Seeing Laila realise this and see how she deals with making the novel so engrossing and captured my heart. I think that in doing so Laila discovers more about herself which is obviously so great. She also discovered rejection which as an aspiring writer you know that this is the ultimate obsactle in writing so seeing her fix this was highly relatable to me. 

I also loved the relationships in the book especially between Laila and her teachers. The relationship between Laila and her first teacher was so great and seeing their relationship change and adapt is the main driving force behind the novel so is the main lynchpin. This being so great therefore makes the book great. I also like the different relationship between her teacher Nadiya as it highlights the idea that different teachers can achieve different things and have different styles. It was complicated and I liked that. 

Her other relationships are also well done and Redgate's characters are extremely diverse which is always a great thing in reading YA books. Laila is also biracial and as someone who actively likes reading books with POCs, this is definitely a good one. This book is also so short but Redgate manages to achieve so much is such a small space. I did just love this book!

The Verdict:

Final Draft is a great piece of YA that captured my heart and imagination and should capture yours too. 

The Best We Could Do

Title: The Best We Could Do
Author: Thi Bui
Publisher: Abrams & Chronicle 
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5 stars

Book Summary:

An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam from debut author Thi Bui.
This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.
At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.
In what Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “a book to break your heart and heal it,” The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui’s journey of understanding and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.

Book Review:

I was really excited to read The Best We Could Do after reading other graphic memoirs in the same vein. The Best We Could Do definitely lived up to the hype surrounding it as well as other memoirs surrounding similar topics. It's emotional, interesting and definitely worth the read. 

For me, a graphic novel has to do three things, have great artwork, have a great story and have great writing and The Best We Could Do has all three. The story captivated me detailing Bui life from Vietnam to America. It details the struggles that they have in America especially when it comes to parenthood as well as detailing her struggle of coming to America. I enjoy reading books like this as they show me how much privilege I have and the struggles of others. I hope that by reading more books like this it will benefit me and allow these stories to be heard. 

I also really enjoyed the writing of the story and how it was told. Obviously, a graphic novel format is different from a typical novel but I think that this worked perfectly for this memoir. Bui's writing is great and gets across the struggles that she had. It makes it so much more real and thus more personal to read about. You get a feel for her struggle and people can feel for the story at hand. 

I also really enjoy the artwork. It has a more ethnic style that is kind of rough around the edges but I really like this style as it shows that it is more real and is not as polished. I don't know I just really like it and it does add to the book at hand.  

The Verdict:

The Best We Could Do is a great graphic memoir that is sweet and emotional which is all the best parts of a book. 

Have you read Final Draft or The Best We Could Do? Do you want to?


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