Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi: Book Review

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Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
Title: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
Series Number: 1

My Synopsis:

Marjane Satrapi lived in Iran before, during, and after the cultural revolution in Iran. Here, she sets down her memories of what life was like for a child during that time.

My Review:

Reviewed on GoodReads on September 1, 2009

I just read Art Spiegelman’s Maus about a month ago and loved it. I thought I would go ahead and give this other highly-acclaimed graphic novel/memoir a try. I enjoyed it, if that’s the correct word, but it didn’t affect me quite the same way Maus did. I’m not too sure why. Maybe it’s because I know more about WWII than I do about Iranian history. All I know about Iran is what I learned from Reading Lolita In Tehran. So I felt a little confused about what was going on. As an American, life before the revolution didn’t look too bad. At least the women didn’t have to wear the veil. Later, it did become clear that there were problems that weren’t readily apparent. I think the other thing is that Spiegelman spread out the violence in Maus and made it more effective. In Persepolis, it just kept coming and I think I became a little desensitized to it.

I do feel like I learned more about another country, and that’s always a good thing. Maybe my one little piece of understanding won’t make much of a difference to the world, but maybe if we could all just try to have a little more understanding, things would change for the better. There’s my bit of philosophy for the day.

Having said that, I did come away with a greater appreciation for where I live. I don’t have to walk in fear of someone arresting me because of what I’m wearing, or the music I’m listening to, or even vocalizing my thoughts. We aren’t perfect by any means, but we have it good. I can’t imagine living in a place where I have to make the decisions that Marjane’s family has to make. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll leave it at that.

I loved the way little Marjane thought. The book wasn’t really funny, but some of the things she said and thought had me laughing out loud. These did provide much-needed breaks from the serious, scary tone of the rest of the book.

Overall, I highly recommend this. It gives some insight into a culture that’s very different from our own. Satrapi makes her point effectively, but I personally wasn’t too clear on what was happening at the beginning. I wish I’d had the second volume nearby when I finished—this one ends on a bit of a cliffhanger.

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  1. Persepolis is probably my all-time favorite graphic memoir. It was my first introduction to the Iranian revolution, and possibly the book that started my long fascination with this country. I admired how Marjane wrote about such a sensitive and possibly-heartwrenching matter with so much lightness and humor.

  2. I love stuff like this…an inside view that breaks down some of the stereotypes that we've absorbed from the media and others. I'm adding this one to my TBR.

  3. I can't wait to see what you think of the second volume — I actually found it a bit of a let down, especially since this first volume was so gripping.

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