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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book Review: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi


Last year I finally tried a graphic memoir, and then another one, and I really enjoyed them. I then immediately got Persepolis because of the raving reviews when it had first come out (and when the movie came out.) It was a perfect read for the Read-A-Thon as graphic memoirs read fast.

Persepolis is the story of about 3 years in Ms. Satrapi's tween years, living in Iran in the 1970s as the revolution took hold. As the daughter of progressive parents, she was in precarious situations more than once as her love of jean jackets and Iron Maiden gave away her parents' political beliefs. I was worried that the names and the history would confuse me, but only a tiny bit. The history is vitally important and yet very poorly known in the U.S. even today.
Ms. Satrapi doesn't shy away from unpleasantries, from friends' and relatives' torture and murder, to she herself getting caught by the female arm of the Taliban wearing contraband. Her family sticks to their ideals, and they want to stay in Iran and not run away. They know that after the revolution, Iran will need their educated middle classes if she is to thrive. If all the professionals abandon Iran, she is left to the wolves. However, as the violence worsens and the rules get stricter, this resolve is tested.
I loved this book. It was captivating and heart-wrenching. I was glued to the page, holding my breath, waiting with Ms. Satrapi to find out if her house has been bombed, if her uncle will ever return, if her classmate's father was killed. I am now very eager to get my hands on the sequel, and the movie as well. It's a powerful story, beautifully and uniquely told. Everyone should read this book.

8 comments:

LJK said...

I agree with your review, this was a great memoir. Now I just have to find my copy of the sequel.

Carina said...

I really loved this book. I actually read it in a version called The Complete Persepolis, which had both volumes in one, so I'm not sure where one ended and the other began. It was fantabulous, though!

Carin said...

Carina, not to give anything away to others I hope, but it ends with her leaving for Austria. Quite a cliffhanger, in fact!

SmallWorld at Home said...

My son's English class used Persepolis as their main book last year at the local college, so I read it and the sequel. Loved them both, although I loved the first more. That was my introduction to graphic novels. I've read a few since then, but I like Persepolis the most.

Stacy said...

i've never heard of this book but i've now added it to my list of tbr! all of the books i've read so far about Iran and what happened during the '70s is shocking, horrifying and if more people truly paid attention...well...
i never imagined a graphic novel could relay that much emotion ~ i'm definitely going to have to check this one out!

Jennifer G. said...

I'm curious which other graphic novel memoirs you've read. I've read Persepolis, which I really liked, and Maus, which I loved. Are there others you'd recommend?

Carin said...

I read two others last year which were great: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel and The Imposter's Daughter by Laurie Sandell. I also have Cancer Vixen by Marisa Acocella Marchetto on my wish list as I've heard it's fantastic. Although I've not ventured into fiction yet with graphic novels, I am tempted to check out the new version of Pride & Prejudice. I probably will do a post about graphic memois/novels once I get enough under my belt to merit it!

Chelle said...

I agree - everyone should read this book! Book two is great as well.