Graphic Novel Review: It Won’t Always Be Like This: A Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib
Posted on March 7, 2023 at 6:25 am by Gene Ambaum
It Won’t Always Be Like This: A Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib. Ten Speed Press, 2022. 9781984860293.
After her parents divorced, Malaka Gharib spent summers with her father and his side of her family in Egypt. In the first chapter, when she is nine, Malaka meets Hala, her new stepmother, a pretty young woman who seems fun and playful. They stay at the hotel where her dad works, and she and Hala spend a lot of time together. Despite the lack of much common language they get to know each other pretty well. In later summers as Malaka’s father’s new family continues to grow, she feels like she’s not quite a part of it. There’s a lot of teenage awkwardness, much of it about trying to relate to family across languages and cultures, but for me the heart of the book is when she becomes an adult and starts to understand Hala as a person, to see the problems in Hala’s marriage to her father.
I recently reconnected with my stepmother who I hadn’t seen in almost forty years, and no book has reminded me of knowing her as a kid as much as this one. I admire Gharib’s ability to create coherent memoirs about her teen years as much as I love the style of her drawings. This is a great book, and a follow-up to her first graphic memoir, I Was Their American Dream.