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

in a sentence or so: a smart, thoughtful, witty, and quite imaginative young girl growing up in Iran in the early 80s faces the challenges of growing up in an oppressive, confusing regime...and growing up a smart, thoughtful, and witty girl in general.

the comic opens with a short history on Iran, and then launches into meeting young Marji being forced to wear a veil at school. at first, the idea is laughable and the girls make light of the imposed restriction.  over time, however, it becomes clear that Iran is in a huge transition period that will result in many more changes coming their way - even as 8 year olds.

the read balances a narrative of what's going on in Iran at the time through her personal experiences (uncles, friends of family, etc) with her growth from childhood to adolescence.  Marji's exposer to violence through familial experience and stories initially breeds confusion, misinformation, and fear.  as a child, we can see her reacting as a child might - with repeating information verbatim to appear expert on the subject. however, even at a young age she is fearful and confused of the life spinning around her.

there are times that Marji mentions friends, but the core of the narrative centers around her family or close family friends (friends of her parents).  it's clear that she holds her family on a higher level of importance and sees the world through them as her lens.  specifically, her uncle Anoosh, makes an immediate and lasting impact on her personally as well as how she views the events happening around her.

the themes of death and forgiveness were highlighted for me.  her talk of death is genuine and sincere, but not romanticized in any way.  similar to those who experience death on a more frequent basis than most, there is almost an acceptance that it will happen - but that does not lessen the pain or significance of the loss.

as for forgiveness, this is an idea that Marji constantly comes back to.  her mother and father seem flippant or resistant to the idea of forgiveness (as they are more world-wise), but as a child Marji was taught to forgive, and so she struggles with this idea as she sees the shift in power, nationally and locally, and the abuse of that power to hurt those she loves.  the frustration of events in her life, and how she is supposed to react to these events, is a constant internal monologue for her.

it was fun to watch Marji grow from an 8 year old to a 14 year old girl in the book. both with her self developments and intra-personal relationships as well as the physical depiction of herself.  the story in itself is incredible and thoughtful, and the comic illustrations add another layer for the reader to connect and identify with.  sometimes she will state that she was sad or frustrated, and other times you look at the frame to gain insight as to her emotion...i like that a lot.  i appreciated her depiction of herself growing up and her different stages.  she doesn't discount or dismiss any emotions or experiences as insignificant, but allows them to stack up and shape her story.

having seen the movie already, i knew much of what to expect (but not all).  i am excited to continue the journey with Marji in Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return.

fave quote: "In life, you'll meet a lot of jerks. If they hurt you, tell yourself that it's because they're stupid.  That will help you from reacting to their cruelty.  Because there is nothing worse than bitterness and vengence...always keep your dignity and be true to yourself." (150)

fix er up: the pace of the book was quick, and at times i felt like the emotional behind some events bordered on nonchalance due to how fast we were moving.


title: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
author: Marjane Satrapi
genre: Coming of Age, Memoir, Graphic Novel/Comic

Lisa is a gamer, crafter, fangirl, mother, wife and unabashed nerd who is pretty ridiculous and it's best you know that up front. When she's not binge watching Netflix or crafting into the wee hours of the night, you can find her spending a lot of her time on Pinterest and Twitter.

2 comments:

  1. did you feel like the movie compared favorably?

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  2. i do indeed. i feel like the movie touched on the same voice and tone of the book, which was consistent and made the reading of what i had already seen exciting again.

    i just got the second part from the local library today! :)

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