Cover Image: It Won't Always Be Like This

It Won't Always Be Like This

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Member Reviews

I love bicultural memoirs and I thought that the graphic fiction format worked well for expressing the author's emotions and feelings. But, as an adult reader, I would have liked more detail. She has a unique story here that would work as a longer memoir as well.
As it is, it works well for a young adult audience--especially for those youth who are also dealing with divorced parents. I think they'd find plenty to identify with here. I'd totally recommend it for reluctant readers since it reads smoothly and easily.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book. It's sure to be treasured by readers who are searching for their own identity.
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It Won‘t Always Be Like This gives a unique insight into a life that is so drastically different compared to my own, as it is told from the point of view of a little girl growing up between three cultures: the culture of her Filipino mother whom she lives with during the year, the culture of her Egyptian father whom she visits during the summer holidays, and the cultural influences of her upbringing in the US. 

Telling this story from the perspective of a child often comes with the side effect of not getting the political background of things that happen around the main character - instead, this graphic novel focuses on the ways that these things directly influence a 9 year old girl, and I think that’s a very interesting point of view. However, at the same time, I‘m not nearly educated enough on these matters to adequately put them into their sociopolitical frame, so I feel like some details might have been lost on me.

In general, this graphic novel read a lot like a diary, which is reflected in the abrupt changes of the topics Malaka talks about as well as the art style. I acknowledge and respect that choice, but especially the art style just wasn’t for me.

I liked how strongly the graphic novel focused on Malaka‘s relationship to Hala, and all the cultural differences that were reflected in that. It became very obvious that (probably in part due to being raised in the US) Malaka clearly condemned many aspects of Egyptian culture, and that she struggled with all parts of her identity and trying to fit in. In many ways she was very alike Hala, but of course the two women live under completely different circumstances, and I liked how perceptive Malaka became of that despite her young age.

All in all this was a very interesting graphic novel that did not manage to give me a very complete understanding of the cultural aspects that were discussed. I guess that people who are more educated in that regard might enjoy the book more than I did, but I appreciated its insights anyway.

3.5/5 stars.
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I’m not a big fan of reading memoirs – unless they’re graphic novels. There’s something about the combination of words and illustrations that makes me feel like I’m getting a better insight into the person. So when I saw this coming-of-age memoir by an Filipina-Egyptian-American woman, I was intensely curious about how she balanced all those identities. I didn’t realize when I picked this up but it’s the second in the series. It worked just fine as a standalone, though.

The book starts with Malaka at nine, arriving to spend the summer with her dad in Egypt to find out that she has a new stepmother, Hala. After her parents divorced, while Malaka stayed with her Filipina mother in California, her dad returned to Egypt to help an elderly relative and eventually ended up staying there. While her dad’s new job as a hotel manager means a lot of amenities (buffet! pool! air conditioning!) it also means he’s working a lot, leaving her to spend most of her time with Hala, who doesn’t speak much English. As the years pass, Malaka struggles with her place in her dad’s new family, as well as not fitting in with the Egyptian part of her heritage. The evolution of her identity parallels some of the changes in Hala’s life as well and she grows closer to her stepmom than she expected.

For the most part, the book consists of small snippets of Malaka’s summer vacations in chronological order, from going to the pool, hanging out with cousins, or going on a family road trip. While Malaka loves them, she finds it hard to fit in, especially once her step-siblings start arriving. The perfect example of this is her attempts to figure out where to stand in the yearly family photo. Isolated due to lingual and cultural barriers, she’s sometimes lonely. The awkward teen years were the funniest for me, as she simultaneously tries to cash in on being the girl from Amreeka as well as fit in with her cooler (older) cousins. Being a fan of Nirvana and LA punk styles in a much more conservative country is a trip! At the same time, Malaka is dissatisfied with her relationship with her father, wishing they were closer or that he had more time for her instead of having to work all the time to support his family. She connects strongly with her stepmother, who’s also struggling to make a life as a homemaker, first as a new wife in a new city with no friends and later as a mother of three children. As she grows older and the relationship evolves, she slowly realizes how much Hala is dissatisfied with her fit in the family as well. The author handles the various characters and their flaws with a gentle hand, even her own, especially as Malaka grows up and starts to imagine who she would’ve been if she’d been raised in Egypt instead of America.

The artwork was distinct and I think it worked well with the narrative. The colors were lovely and the art was just the right amount of detailed, with lots of texture added by the color. I did wish for more definition in the facial features, but they worked at conveying emotion. I loved the depictions of the food, too!

Overall, this was a easily readable coming of age novel of a girl discovering how she fits in her various cultural identities, and is definitely recommended to anyone who enjoys graphic novel memoirs!

I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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Thank you to the author, Clarkson/Ten Speed Press and NetGalley, for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This graphic memoir with great illustrations tells the story of a young girl who grows up with her Filipino mother in the US, and spends summers with her Egyptian father and his new wife, in Egypt. The differences and tensions of being a child/young adult and trying to adapt to very different cultures and family relationships are spot-on and very relatable for any child growing up in a multicultural environment. We follow the story through puberty and young adulthood and feel the heartache of not knowing where you belong, The book ends with a few surprising turns and revelations about the stepmother, which show that the search for identity can continue on for a lifetime.
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Not exactly like I had expected. Should I blame the writing or my expectations, I wonder!?

“It Won't Always Be Like This” is supposed to be a graphic memoir about the American author’s time growing up with her father’s new family in Egypt. Beginning from when she was nine years old and discovers her father’s bride Hala, Malaka’s summer vacations aren’t the same again. Unlike her earlier fun visits, her vacation now is spent more with Hala as her father is busy with his job. Over the next fifteen years, each visit of Malaka to Egypt and later to Qatar is marked with multiple changes and adjustments, some of which are easy and some impossible to accept. But Malaka’s bond with Hala stays comparatively strong, and the story comes a full circle beginning and ending with their connection with each other. 

This is a very quick read despite its being 220+ pages long. The author kept her interrelations with Hala as the core theme of this memoir, and the story sort of begins and ends with Hala. On the way, we see a glimpse of other topics such as cultural differences, the changing family dynamic (at least on her father’s side of the picture) and her views about the various cultures. 

I had expected the memoir to be on the lines of Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, which flows smoothly and covers multiple topics without losing the control of the key narrative. However, this memoir goes all over the place. Even after reading the entire book, I feel like I barely know the people involved. The continuity of the book is quite disjointed, and the storytelling feels incomplete. There are a lot of whats but absolutely no whys. (I later came to know that the author has another memoir titled “I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir”. It could be that some elements are covered in this book, but as this isn’t a series, each book should have been complete in itself.)

Malaka’s confusion over her identity and her struggles to fit in come out decently well in the story. As the daughter of a Filipino mother and an Egyptian father but growing up in the USA, her life would have been a complicated mishmash of three distinct cultures. However, she very clearly has a favourite culture and a part of me felt like she was ashamed of one half of her identity and irritated with the restrictions of the other. There is an underlying tone of American superiority and a condescending approach towards the other two cultures, both of which I did not appreciate. The writing does point out a couple of flaws in the American lifestyle, but most of the finger-pointing is towards the Egyptian mode of living. There are certain societies which are more traditional than America but this doesn’t make them flawed. 

I liked the bond between Hala and Malaka, who, despite their very different upbringing, are quite similar in thinking but contrained by their different circumstances. The loneliness and isolation of the two women comes out well. I would have love to know more of Hala’s thinking, but I get why that couldn’t be a part of this book; it is from Malaka’s point of view after all. She only wrote what she saw or knew.

I wasn’t a fan of the art style at all. The cover style is gorgeous but the illustrations inside don’t match. I simply didn’t like the drawings, and considering this was a graphic memoir, this affected the experience greatly.

All in all, many things fell short of this being an enriching experience.  I should have liked this coming-of-age story a lot more but came away with no strong feelings either way. It simply didn’t have the magic to create a long-lasting impact. I’ve read far better graphic memoirs and this won’t be counted among the memorable ones.

2.5 stars.

My thanks to Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press and NetGalley for the DRC of “It Won’t Always Be like This”. This review is voluntary and contains my honest opinion about the book.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press for an eARC of It Won't Always Be Like This by Malaka Gharib in exchange for an honest review. 

Malaka is an American girl living with her father in Egypt for the summers. Her dad has remarried to Hala, who quickly becomes a friend to Malaka. As the summers go on, Malaka grapples with coming into herself, navigating her dad's growing family with Hala, and maintaining a relationship with her dad who always seems to be working. 

This is a touching coming of age graphic memoir. I thought the exploration of familial relationships and how relational dynamics change during the tumultuous teen years was the shining star of the book. I loved the relationship between Malaka and Hala, and it felt so hopeful to me to see a step-daughter-step-mother relationship flourish in contrast to so many other tension filled step relationships. As with any coming of age story, I really felt empathetic toward Malaka as she attempted to find her own style and get into the groove of being her own unique, authentic person. That is such an aching time in life, and it will always be important to have books depict characters like this.
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Thank you Netgalley and the publisher’s for allowing me to read and enjoy this amazing graphic novel memoir. Honestly graphic novel memoirs are probably some of my favorite things to read. I love to actually see the pictures in the authors story. The art was absolutely incredible as well. 
5 stars.
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One of the saddest things about life is change. What we idolize as a child, is a memory we can never grasp as adults. Letting go and accepting the future is a bitter pill to swallow, as this book illustrates.
Malaka's parents are divorced, and her father moved to Egypt; she goes to visit him over the summer and does school in Los Angeles while living with her Filipino mother. He has a new wife, a sweet woman named Hala. While Malaka isn't thrilled when her dad has to work, leaving her with Hala who speaks little English, they soon develop a bond. Malaka teaches Hala to sing her favorite songs from the US, and they invent games to deal with their language barrier.  
It seems that Malaka can weather this storm. She is growing, however, and her dad is set in his old-fashioned ways. He admonishes her as she enters her teen years for not being "modest" like other Egyptian girls; as she points out angrily but accurately, she's not an Egyptian girl and this isn't her home. She's a visitor. 
Meanwhile, Hala takes over all the housekeeping, has several children, She fulfills all the wifely duties that society and her husband expect of her, and attempts to buffer Malaka's puberty blues and identity crisis when the latter visits. Hala keeps it a secret that Malaka has boyfriends back in the US, becoming a confidante. But she is questioning if this is what she wants from life, that she is changing for her husband's sake, but he is not doing the same for her or his older daughter.  
The ending is definitely bittersweet and a tearjerker. But it was a great story.
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It Won't Always Be Like This is a graphic memoir by Malaka Gharib that tells the story of her experiences growing up as an American girl who spent summers with her Egyptian father and his new family in Egypt. Her parent's divorced amicably (it would seem ) when she was young and most summers were spent with her Dad in Egypt where he worked in the hospitality industry. The summer that Malaka turned nine everything changed , her father remarried and now she must figure out a new relationship with a woman who doesn't speak English. The book follows Malka over the course of fifteen years as she spends these summer visits with her father's expanding family, and fitting in becomes more difficult as she enters the teenage years and starts to notice the cultural differences and clashes between Egypt and home. 
This was a really moving coming of age story as we see Malaka grow from happy go lucky child to moody teen who struggles to fit in and eventually to a compassionate and caring young woman who cares deeply for her siblings and step mother. Seeing how she experienced the cultural differences between her life in America and the predominantly Islamic Egypt made for very interesting reading, and it is clear that the author was telling her story warts and all, an honesty that was much appreciated. 
As this is a graphic novel I will add a few words about the art which is vivid and deceptively simplistic in style. I felt it really fit with the story being told, especially since we first meet Malaka as a child. 
I read and reviewed an ARC courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher, all opinions are my own.
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It Won’t Always Be Like This follows the relationship between a young girl, her father, and her new stepmother as they all grow and change throughout the years. It provides an intimate look into differences between life in the US and Egypt for girls and women, and the tensions those differences make for families stretched across the globe. While the art isn't my usual go to style, I thought it did a great job with color and expressions to help move the narrative along.
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Thank you to Ten Speed Press and NetGalley for the advanced electronic review copy of this book. This is a great graphic memoir that explores the Egyptian side of Malaka Gharib’s Filipino-Egyptian upbringing. The story is very relatable to any child growing up in a multicultural environment. Overall, this is a good read, especially for the teen/YA population who is still trying to understand who they are.
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The phrase “It won’t always be like this” can refer to a lot of things: puberty, feeling like you don’t belong, and general teenage awkwardness. Malaka Gharib shares her experiences with all of these in her new graphic novel entitled It Won’t Always Be Like This.

I think this book is amazing.

Gharib’s story about growing up in this strange space between cultures is something I know a lot of people (see: children of immigrants in America) can relate to. I saw a lot of myself and my life Gharib’s life; it’s hard to find the balance between trying to assimilate while growing up not-white in America and trying to maintain the culture of your parents and ancestors when it honestly just feels like acceptance from either one is impossible. Gharib does not hold back in her writing; she writes about being emotional and being cringe and lying to her parents, basically anything that women — and especially teenage girls — are condemned for feeling and/or expressing. 

As we watch Malaka grow up we also see how her relationships change and grow overtime; Malaka’s relationships with her parents, her siblings, herself, and her cultures all change in a variety of ways as she moves through life trying to figure out who she is. We see the story of her father and his growing family after he divorces Malaka’s mom and moves from California to Egypt; stealthily, though, we are told the story of Malaka’s step-mother, Hala. We meet Hala very early on in her courtship and marriage with Gharib’s father and follow as she becomes a step-mother and learns how to take on that role; we see what Hala is like as she has children and starts dressing differently and how she is affected by cultural and societal expectations of her. 

This book made me emotional in ways and for reasons I did not see coming; I think a lot of people from different walks of life can read this book and connect with the story. Probably the biggest takeaway that I got from this book is that your life is your own and you can’t live it for anyone else; do whatever you can to make yourself happy and live the life you want otherwise you’ll never feel fulfilled. I am truly grateful to Malaka Gharib and her family for sharing their story with us.

Thanks to NetGalley and Clarkson Potter/Ten Speed Press for sending me a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review. It Won’t Always Be Like This is currently available for preorder and will be available at libraries and major book retailers on September 20th, 2022.
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This book didn't work for me, but I didn't understand what was bothering me until the end of the book. The story is really about Hala, but I wanted it to be about Malaka - the author/narrator. I was most engaged in the middle of the book where Malaka started to show her rebellious side as a teenager, but unfortunately that was just a taste of something that was not to come. I don't know whether the choice to end up focusing on Hala was admirable, cowardly, or the result of a lack of confidence that her own story wasn't interesting enough; I thought it would have been plenty interesting, if she had delved further into her feelings towards her father and the yearly visits.

Another thing I thought was lacking is a more nuanced look at the society and customs of Egypt and The Gulf. The impressions are rather child-like, which makes sense at the beginning, but could have gained depth as the main character got older.

Finally, I wasn't a huge fan of the drawing style, though I enjoyed the vibrant colors.

Ultimately, I think this book has the seed of something wonderful, and I would definitely read this author again, even though this particular story fell flat for me.
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There have been a lot of good autobiographical graphic novels recently, and while It Won't Always Be Like This is a fine book it doesn't really do much to distinguish itself.

Gharib writes with love about her family, and she does not shy away from showing vulnerability and using  humour to poke fun at some the cultural differences between her life in the USA and her visits to her father. 

Gharib clearly has a great deal of affection for Egypt and her extended family. I'm not sure if it's deliberate buy my interpretation of many of the events she writes about are to do with a sense of isolation and a struggle to fit in.

Gharib's is freewheeling and not tied down to a particular style. It took a while to get use to but it's certainly affecting, especially in the sections with her step mother.

This is a very good graphic novel, and is enjoyable enough but it didn't linger long after I had put it down.
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I enjoyed the author's journey in building empathy and understanding from childhood to young adulthood. It was a wonderful portrait of a family filled with love but also deep hurts and misunderstandings. It spoke to people's capacity to grow and change both themselves and how they see those around them.
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Malaka Gharib's graphic memoir takes us through her adolescence when she spends summers in Egypt with her father instead of at home in California with her (Filipino-American) mother. I added her mother's national identifier not because it has a tremendous bearing on this part of Gharib's story, but to underscore that young Malaka is navigating multiple racial, ethnic, and national identities at a life stage when there's a lot to figure out about yourself, even if you're coming of age in a homogenous environment that matches your looks and culture and those of your family members. (nb junior high was an emotional shitshow for me from which I may never fully recover)

We join Gharib in Egypt and later other Middle Eastern countries, spending time with her father Maged and his girlfriend, eventually wife, Hala. This isn't so much a memoir of seminal moments in Gharib's life, as it is a de-spooling of her summers, which she sometimes experienced a stranger in her own family. Her father's increasing financial success, which means moving to more conservative cities, necessitates or coincides with Hala becoming more overtly religious. Because she travels back and forth between the US and isn't raising children, Gharib's freedoms aren't as constrained as her stepmother's, and at first she isn't cognizant of what life might be like for her parents and their SO's, because adolescent. She gains maturity--and distance--as the memoir progresses, taking us with her to care with more nuance. 

I'm also taken with Gharib's illustrations. I love how much she does with wavy lines and color textures.
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2.6 stars .. 

I liked the honest and raw parts of this story, it reminded me of 'The kite runner' for the flow that the story had. I liked how the story started with a confused kid and her feelings when she was thrust into a life she knew nothing about.

The few parts in this book that I really appreciate are the growth of the lead at every chapter and how her personal growth and the factual life that it won't be the same was shown. 

The author has put detail in some things like blaming yourself as a victim when there is molestation. That hit me hard... 

This graphic novel is a fast easy read, I wish the art was a little more so that the story could be a little more too... 

Y'all can pick this up for a quick read. Thank you @netgalley for the ARC.
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What a moving read! Not Gharib's first graphic memoir, but it was my introduction to her, and I'll definitely be going back to read I Was Their American Dream.

In this one, Gharib narrates her fluctuating relationship with her dad and his new family in Egypt, where she spends summers after her parents divorce and he moves there to remarry.

There are so many things to love about this story. The balance and compassion Gharib deploys as she conveys the pressure toward and from the margins of her American, Egyptian, and Filipino identities. The nuance in her relationship with her stepmom among the intersections of blended families, gender, culture, and self-determination. The verbatim snippets from her old diaries she unabashedly included, as well as her candid portrayal of all of the embarrassing ways we seek to differentiate ourselves as teenagers ("Dad, I don't know if you noticed, but I'm into *subculture*.")

This is a quick read, with sweet illustrations and attention to detail that helps fill out the story. Highly recommend!
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A beautifully drawn and plotted graphic novel that managed to inter splice strong thematic elements and keep up great entertainment value.
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Plot: 4
Characters: 5
Writing Style: 5
Cover: 3
Enjoyment: 4
Buyable/Re-readable?: Yes.

Honestly, I wanted more story, more memories. I very much feel that this could have been longer, that it would benefit from a tad more fleshing out. More, like, snapshots into author’s life, because we don’t always get a follow through or wrap up conclusion to certain incidents and that was a little disappointing. The art style wasn't for me; not great, however, it really fits the story. If IRL hadn't gotten in the way, I easily could have read it in one sitting, it’s hookable and relatable in various ways from PoC, assault, time period setting (knew references and liked some), female woes, dad issue woes, stepfamily woes, etc etc 

I'm glad I took a blind leap and requested this, because I just saw the words 'graphic memoir' and 'Egypt' and hit that button, heh. Nice coming of age story.

Also, my favorite part was probably the AIM reference!!! Ah, nostalgia. I miss AIM. And I hear you, Malaka, I hear you, xD
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