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I WAS THEIR AMERICAN DREAM by Malaka Gharib Kirkus Star


A Graphic Memoir

by illustrated by

Pub Date: April 30th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-525-57511-5
Publisher: Clarkson Potter

A graphic memoir about being half Filipino, half Egyptian—and 100% American.

After her parents’ divorce, debut author Gharib spent her school years with her Filipino relatives in Cerritos, California, and summers with her father and his new family in Egypt. She honestly recounts the challenges she faced as a biracial child trying to appease both sides of her family, providing detailed (and oftentimes humorous) insights into her parents’ cultural differences, both significant (her mother is Catholic while her father is Muslim) and nuanced (food, etiquette, expectations for her behavior). Gharib thoughtfully explores the gradations of diversity and what they meant to different people. In elementary school, Filipino classmates commented on her less-than-Filipino name and appearance. In high school, surrounded mostly by students of color but still feeling marginalized due to her bicultural, biracial heritage, she was criticized for her obsession with white culture. Readers also experience Gharib’s transition to college and her first job—far away from her family and requiring huge adjustments as she entered mostly white worlds. She eventually married Darren, a white man from Tennessee. Charmingly unsophisticated illustrations, predominantly—and appropriately—colored in red, white, and blue, and Gharib’s authentic voice make her story personable and accessible. Dispersed throughout are unique interactives, including a bingo chart of microaggressions, a mini zine tutorial, and Tagalog flashcards.

A heartwarming tribute to immigrant families and their descendants trying to live the American dream. (Graphic memoir. 13-adult)