Saturday, January 20, 2018

Review: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Three stars is not a bad review; I want to remind you that it means that I "liked" it.

I didn't "really like" it because I do not think graphic novels are appealing to me. I don't often read them so it was an adjustment to be able to follow the story.

I DO think it was an excellent format for this story, as it presents this world through the eyes of a child. In a group discussion about the book, we came to an interesting conclusion: the illustrations - to a degree - prevent you from personalizing the story too much by limiting your own imagination, which keeps the story completely owned by Satrapi. This is a good thing. It is her personal story. If it were words-only, my imagination might have added to the narrative and diminished its authenticity by forcing her voice to speak through my own interpretation, rather than how she would present it.

I think it would be a good introductory book for a course or discussion on the politics of these middle eastern countries.

I caution adults who might assume - due to its cartoon style - that it's appropriate for all ages. There are swear words, images of torture and spilled blood, dismemberment, and in one scene, the mother in the family is threatened with rape, and is told women like her (who don't wear the veil) should be "f**ked against a wall and thrown into a trashcan". However, I believe certain young people could handle the story, so it would depend on that person.

There are instances of humor, which provide a little levity to the dark story and keep a sense of hope alive. For example, one child shows off by saying that her dad spent "more time" in jail than her friend's dad, and thus, she was the coolest one in the crowd. In the opening scene, our main character imagines she is a prophet, like any child who pretends to be a cowboy or a movie star. She carries conversations with God, and when she is angry with him, she stops talking to him and pouts.

This is an important book and if you choose to read it, thoughtfully, it will broaden your mind and change you as a person. You won't be able to hear the news reports of the skirmishes in Iran/Irag without feeling the pain for their people.

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