Cover Image: It Won't Always Be Like This

It Won't Always Be Like This

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It Won't Always Be Like This by Malaka Gharib
Publication date: September 20, 2022

Date read: October 14, 2022

Nine-year-old Malaka Gharib arrives in Egypt for her annual summer vacation abroad and assumes it will be just like any other vacation that she’s spent at her dad’s place in Cairo. But when she arrives, her father shares the news that he had gotten remarried. Over the next fifteen years, as she visits her father’s growing family every summer, Malaka has to reevaluate her place in his life and figure out where she fits in. 

I’ve never read a graphic novel memoir before (I know, I know, I haven’t read Persepolis yet), so while I read a fair amount of graphic novels, this was new for me. 

Every graphic novel artist draws their work differently, and it’s usually a matter of personal preference if the artwork works for the reader or not. This style was harder for me to get used to, and wasn’t my favorite, but it was done well. The style was very childish and sketchy - but as a choice, not because the artist did a bad job.

Reviewing a memoir is always harder than reviewing  fiction, because you’re not really able to make judgements on the story itself, but only on how well the story is told. (Who are you to tell a writer that you don’t like the plot of their personal history?) I thought Gharib told the story very well, and I agree that a graphic novel worked much better for this story than a strictly written one. 

While I couldn’t personally identify with Gharib’s story, I think there is definitely an audience for this book. Middle grade kids and young adults who are from broken and/or immigrant families will, I think, get a lot out of Gharib’s struggles to identify with her family and culture. 

Overall, while the artwork wasn’t in a style I loved, I thought that the story was well-written and will be appreciated by the right audience. Recommended to young adult and middle grade readers. This would be a great place to turn for young readers who aren’t comfortable yet with memoirs, and need a place to start. 

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Trigger warning: divorce, sexual harassment/assault, physical abuse 

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book.
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I really enjoyed this slice of life graphic novel. We travel with the author from a young age through puberty as she navigates her family in Egypt with her family in America. It's honest and raw in story telling and in artistry. I look forward to seeing more from Malaka!
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This was an amazing and impactful read! 

First of all, the cover is stunning. The artist did amazing at capturing the story with a single picture. The cover was what first drew me to the book, but the story was well worth my time! Will be reccomending this on my profiles.
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Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy. Graphic novel is not my favorite genre, but I enjoyed this story nonetheless. It’s easy for youth from mixed cultures and blended families to identify with the characters and story. The themes of coming of age, family, and autonomy can all be discussed. Due to mature topics, I would not keep this in my classroom library, but I do appreciate that there is no profanity. The characters are more cultural than religious.  While there is closure, sometimes there just aren’t “happy” endings in life.
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I really tried with this one, really tried, but I had to give up. I don’t know honestly what made me dnf this, but I just found it boring, I guess. There were some intriguing elements, but the narration style made everything dull for me, I’m afraid.
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I received this e-book ARC through Net Galley from Ten Speed Press in exchange for a truthful review.

Graphic novel memoir about Malaka, a multicultural American child of divorce, and her summer vacation visits with her Egyptian dad and family. Starting from age nine through her early 30s, we get glimpses of Malaka's insights and struggles as she navigates life as a Filipino-Egyptian American during her annual visits back to the Middle East. Culture clash and family dynamics, both good and bad, are at the forefront of this poignant tale.
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This story depicts the struggle of a child going through the workings of divorced parents and incorporating new family members into their lives. I love the relationships portrayed here. 

This reminded me of the works done by Marjane Satrapi. The illustrations are obviously different from hers (in a good way!).

Thank you NetGalley and Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press for giving me the opportunity to read this!
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I've recently been reading quite a few graphic memoirs; the combination of text and illustrations seems to add more to the experience and I am able to better understand the author, not unlike listening to memoirs on audiobooks! In It Won't Always Be Like This, Malaka Gharib reflects on her childhood growing up half-Filipina and half-Egyptian, particularly her summers spent in Egypt with her dad and his new family. Gharib explores the "otherness" she felt as a non-Muslim, non-Arabic speaking, half-Filipina American in Egypt as well as a temporary visitor in her father's seemingly picture-perfect new family. This memoir is definitely on the shorter end but I learned that she has an earlier memoir called I Was Their American Dream, which I want to read soon!
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A really lovely graphic novel about family, relationships and identity. A fantastic read and I loved some of the messages woven into the storyline.
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A wonderful book about blended families and growing up together (and apart) from relatives in a different country.
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Poignant and honest, a wonderful resource for readers to understand what it's like to come from multiple culture backgrounds, divorced parents, and finding one's identity. Fascinating read that will be relatable to many teens/young adults!
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Malaka Gharib grew up visiting her father every summer in Cairo. But when she was nine, she arrived in Cairo to discover her father had remarried, and she suddenly felt like she didn’t fit into his new family. In this graphic memoir, Gharib explores identity, family relationships, and belonging through comics looking back on her childhood trips to Egypt.

This was a thoughtful graphic novel on family, belonging, and loneliness. I think it lost a little for not showing more of what was going on in Gharib's life between trips to visit her father, making it feel a bit disjointed. But it was still fascinating and I really appreciated a lot of the perspectives and experiences it brought up!
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Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: It Won’t Always Be Like This

Author: Malaka Gharib

Book Series: Standalone

Rating: 5/5

Diversity: Egyptian characters, Egyptian/Filipino American MC

Recommended For...: young adult readers, graphic novel, memoir, nonfiction, Egypt, coming of age

Publication Date: September 20, 2022

Genre: YA Graphic Novel Memoir

Age Relevance: 13+ (divorce, religion, language, sexual harassment, sexual assault, modesty culture)

Explanation of Above: Divorce is a plot line of the book. There are mentions and showings of religion and modest culture, including scenes shaming the MC for what she is wearing. There is some slight cursing in the book. There is one scene of catcalling/sexual harassment and one scene of being groped/sexual assault.

Publisher: Ten Speed Press

Pages: 225

Synopsis: It's hard enough to figure out boys, beauty, and being cool when you're young, but even harder when you're in a country where you don't understand the language, culture, or religion.

Nine-year-old Malaka Gharib arrives in Egypt for her annual summer vacation abroad and assumes it'll be just like every other vacation she's spent at her dad's place in Cairo. But her father shares news that changes everything: He has remarried. Over the next fifteen years, as she visits her father's growing family summer after summer, Malaka must reevaluate her place in his life. All that on top of maintaining her coolness!

Malaka doesn't feel like she fits in when she visits her dad--she sticks out in Egypt and doesn't look anything like her fair-haired half siblings. But she adapts. She learns that Nirvana isn't as cool as Nancy Ajram, that there's nothing better than a Fanta and a melon-mint hookah, that the desert is most beautiful at dawn, and that her new stepmother, Hala, isn't so different from Malaka herself.

Review: I really liked this graphic novel memoir! I thought it was well done and it did well to show what growing up with divorced international parents is like. I liked seeing the juxtaposition of the MC’s American life vs her Egyptian life and I enjoyed seeing her insight and seeing how she grew throughout the novel, especially in the way her relationship grew with her stepmother. I think this would be a great book for children of divorce, especially those who have to travel a long way to see their non-custodial parent or children with new step parents. I thought the artwork was also well done, the character development amazing, and the world building great.

The only thing I had a bit of fault with is that the story just ends. It doesn’t have a resolution or anything and the author’s note mentions talking to Hala again, that she reviewed this story before it was published, but in the story itself she just kind of falls off the face of the Earth. I wish there was a bit more resolution with her.

Verdict: It was good! Highly recommend!
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With the signature illustration style of Gharib's for her second memoir, this one focuses on her father's second marriage to Hala, who she was standoffish with from the get-go but spending each summer in Egypt (or wherever the family was which seems like many places all over the region based on her dad's work in the hotel business) and finding her place both in society and in her family. Hala ends up having multiple children with Gharib's dad but Gharib slowly shares the secret with readers that Hala doesn't seem to be happy with her father and the life she's living. So while Gharib is writing the story of her moving through her teenage and twenties, it seems more focused on Hala but without diving in either. It's a mix of her and Hala's life, which she gives appreciation for helping her write, but seems oddly biographical of Hala and less autobiographical of Malaka. 

This memoir still does what her first one set out to do and that's talk about feeling displaced from everywhere because of her mixed heritage as both Filipino and Christian and Egyptian and Muslim and speaking varying languages or trying to associate with certain aspects of culture (and mentions often too trying to act more American at times). It's a mirror for a lot of teens who have heritages that "don't seem to fit right" as Malaka always thought of herself.
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Thank you to NetGalley for an electronic copy to read in exchange for an honest review. 

This is a great graphic memoir of how a family grows across time and distance. The story was good but the visuals were sometimes difficult to view. I hope this was just because of it being an electronic copy.
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This is a memoir of a filipino - egyptian - US woman with divorced parents that's told in vignettes from when she goes to Egypt every summer to stay with her dad's family. That bit was okay and interesting and etcetera. I just didn't get the message beyond that. I thought this was just putting anecdotes on paper, and there was nothing that stayed with me after finishing the book. I would've loved to hear from the author - where is she now? What has she learnt? How has being in Egypt for 1/3rd of the year every year shape the way she sees the world now? What are her step-siblings like? 
It cut off at a weird point, which makes me think the author is still young and going through many of the events leading up to the end of this, which is okay, but you have to wrap it up some way and I don't think this was it. I'm left feeling as if I was just stopped on the street by a stranger who told me something wild about their life and then just stormed off. Like the drive through meme of a worker just staring at the customer who just spilled something weird onto them. 

The art was truly something, though. I like that it didn't go for a traditional style at all.
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Malaka grew up in California with a Filipino mother and Egyptian father.  When they separated and he left to live in Egypt to care for his sick father, she was sure her dad would return one day.  Instead he grew roots and began a new family.

We get to watch Malaka grow up and navigate the different cultures of the US versus Egypt and the Middle East, adjust to a new family and work through her anger at it all.

Ultimately this is a story about embracing who you are and what you want from life with courage.
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It Won't Always Be Like This is a touching graphic memoir by Malaka Gharib. The book takes place over multiple summers of the author's childhood and adolescence, during which she visited her father and his new family.

The novel touches upon topics such as divorce, fitting into a blended family, having multiple cultural identities, growing up, and differences in women's lived experiences based on their culture. The story also focuses a lot on the author's relationship with her stepmother, Hala. I thought this was an interesting choice. It was fascinating to see how their relationship changed and grew throughout the years this graphic novel spanned.

I loved how this graphic novel depicted the struggle of trying to adjust to living in a blended family following a divorce. It felt very real, honest, and bittersweet. I would like to pick up this author's other work.

The art style is cute, but not particularly my taste. I also would have liked to see a deeper dive into some of the themes, but the format of a graphic novel does not always lend itself to the kind of exploration I personally would have enjoyed.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a digital copy in exchange for my review.
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Malaka Gharib has created another charming and vibrant comic memoir. It Won’t Always Be Like This recounts the summers Gharib spent in Egypt with her dad, step-mom and half-siblings, and all of the hardships, love, and lessons that came with them.

This graphic novel beautifully explores complicated family dynamics and cultural differences. It’s a relatable and honest look at Gharib’s life, and I love how we see Malaka’s growth throughout the book as she contemplates her Filipina-Egyptian-American identity, and finds her place within her dad’s new family. While the focus is on her summers in Egypt, I love how there’s still space for her Filipina heritage and moments with her mom throughout the book. 

I’ve experienced complicated family relationships so that part of the book resonated with me. I could relate to feeling out of place and taking family for granted. I could also relate to being an awkward teenage girl. Gharib wonderfully illustrates her journey to appreciating her family, and the waves of emotions she felt while dealing with these experiences while growing up. This graphic novel covers a lot of ground and does it well. 

If you enjoyed Gharib’s other book I Was Their American Dream, you’ll enjoy this one too. It’s a wonderful book and I loved it! Check the content warnings before you read. 

Thank you Netgalley and Ten Speed Press for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Spanning 15 years of Malala’s summer spent in the Middle East, this graphic memoir captures the raw beautiful of searching for belonging in a multiracial family. This memoir is vibrant, heavy, joyful, bittersweet and human! Highly recommend!
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