The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Title/Author:  The Complete Persepolis/Marjane Satrapi
Publisher: Pantheon 
Pages: 341
ISBN: 978-0-375-71483-2 

My verdict: 4/5

In a nutshell
Persepolis (Persia in Greek) is about the author’s life growing up as a child in Iran in the 1970s. Her memoir started from the time when she was 10, living and surviving a troubling time in her country. The Islamic Revolution took place and all females were required to wear veils, a far cry from what she was used to, being educated at a French non-religious school, which was later divided into schools for boys and girls. Jewelry weren’t allowed, women must be covered from head to toe, no Western music and so forth. 

Being the only child of outspoken revolutionaries, strict rules like these don’t sit well with Marjane. Her rebellious and outspoken nature always put her in danger. She was then sent to live in Austria, hoping there, she could live freely. As it turned out, living there had its humps and bumps too. She found friends, lost some, met a few mr rights, became a drug dealer, a druggie, a waitress, and at times getting herself tangled in challenging situations, even to the point of losing a place to stay. Almost as though God heard her cry for help, she received a call from her parents asking her if she wanted to return home. She knew she must and wanted to desperately.

Home wasn’t all that rosy either after spending all those years abroad. She carried so much guilt in her, in that she did nothing in Austria that could make her parents. She became depressed. She attempted suicide and when it failed she decided to take charge of her life. She confronted her fears by staying true to herself which earned her respect from friends who thought alike. She also found what she thought true love at 21, and got married. But things took a different turn, leading to leave for France at 24.

What I enjoyed
I didn’t think I’d enjoy a graphic novel this much. Maybe because Marjane had had an interesting childhood. Yes indeed her book is dark, raw and real, at times violent and vulgar, but it is also funny and entertaining. Sealing these elements while making this a thought-provoking read (it makes one question authority, class structures, rules, racism, gender) is a challenge but Marjane succeeded at it. It’s a little like watching a Quentin Tarantino’s movie (only much less violent and bloody), which combined humor and violence. 

I like how she used humor in her drawings and in bringing her message across. I’m thinking either because she’s a funny person or she wanted to use humor to discuss a serious issue, a technique which I find most standup comedians use a lot. ‘Every situation offered an opportunity for laughs…’ she mentioned in her book. 

My favorite characters are definitely the dad and grandma. When she was young, they encouraged her curious nature, they allowed her to be in the company of adults and ‘participate’ in their discussions, giving her a deeper and wider perspective of what’s going on in their country. I love Marjane too. She’s not afraid to be herself and to stand up for her rights. Her rebellious nature gave her a voice, and drew birds of the same feather to her when she was studying overseas.

This is my very first graphic novel and I enjoyed it. It’s educational (to me at least) as it is entertaining. Reading it made me realize once again the importance of knowledge and education. Living in ignorance can make one vulnerable to being manipulated by those in power. 

I do wonder though, if the book will have the same effect if it were written without the graphics…

Book Bite
It’s a banned in Chicago Public Schools. I still don’t get why they banned this book because it contains “graphic language and images.” This reason is so laughable. Kids these days can access ‘graphic language and images’ anywhere on the Internet. This book is such a great source for teachers to encourage discussion; kids can be taught critical thinking, making sound judgments and most importantly, be in the know. 

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