cover image I Was Their American Dream

I Was Their American Dream

Malaka Gharib. Clarkson Potter, $16.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-0-525-57511-5

This charming graphic memoir riffs on the joys and challenges of developing a unique ethnic identity. With a Catholic Filipino mother, whom she lives with in Southern California; a close-knit extended Filipino family; and an Egyptian Muslim father and mother-in-law, whom she visits in the summer after her parents’ divorce, Gharib tries to find a balance between the cultures that are her heritage. It proves difficult at her racially diverse high school, where aligning with a specific group is integral to fitting in, and almost equally so at Syracuse University, where Gharib discovers that her constant exposure to white people in pop culture didn’t prepare her for the clash of living among them—or the pressures (and guilt) of assimilation. Gharib’s enthusiastic, if naive, scribbly art style is reminiscent of Lynda Barry in the way it captures moments of chaotic Filipino family life. With the inclusions of recipes, Tagalog flashcards, tongue-in-cheek charts, an excerpt from her high school zine, and even a “Microaggressions Bingo” card, Gharib’s storytelling remains upbeat through life’s ups and downs. This lighthearted narrative, self-reflective but never angst-ridden, has wide appeal. [em](Apr.) [/em]