BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib [in Booklist]

Malaka Gharib’s Catholic mother regretted leaving her upper-middle-class Manila life, but unrest fueled by the 1970s Marcos regime sent her stateside. Meanwhile, her Egyptian Muslim father “had been scheming to get to America since high school” and finally enrolled at UCLA’s School of Management. They met working at a hotel, married six months later, and had Gharib one year after. Divorce happened, with Gharib predominantly raised in Northern California by her overworked mother and her multi-generational extended family.

Growing up, “Filipino-Egyptians were kinda rare,” and by 16, she “just [knew] that white > whatever the hell I was.” Gharib’s coming-of-age is a formidable balancing act negotiating parents, cultures, religions, and expectations; not until adulthood can she begin to assert “the Real Me.”

Presenting her memories in hues of pinks, oranges, and blues, Gharib augments them with stinging, comically poignant interruptions, including a Malaka cut-out doll to be dressed to “dramatically transform and alter her personality” and “Microagressions Bingo” with squares that call out daily racist incidents. Forthright and funny, Gharib fiercely claims her own American dream.

Review: “Graphic Novels,” Booklist, March 15, 2019

Readers: Young Adult, Adult

Published: 2019


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