Young Marjane Satrapi came from a well off, loving, modern family. She went to a non-religious french school. Her father drove a cadillac and her family had a maid. All that changed in 1980, when Marjane turned 10 years old... because Marjane lived in Tehran... During the cultural revolution... and 'the veil'.
The book opens with Marjane showing us how a 10 year old perceives the sudden requirement to wear the veil... The little girls didn't understand the need to wear one. One day you don't have to, and the next day you do? Her bilingual school was closed down because it was a symbol of capitalism and decadence... And soon Marjane was being indoctrinated into the political fray. First she is taught that the Shah was chosen by God, then when he is overthrown she is taught to tear his pictures out of all the school books. People were being persecuted, executed, tortured. And Marjane's parents did not protect her from the truth because it seemed the only way to save her from becoming one of the persecutors...
Her parents protested, there were raids & bombs, and patrols... Relatives are murdered, friends of the family disappear, a friend dies is a bombing. How is a 1o year old suppose to deal with all this? Honestly... Unfortunately her honesty was perceived as blasphemy... Marjane called her teacher a liar when she taught that there were no more political prisoners and recited the facts, she wore a simple bracelet under her garment and was expelled... It was then decided that a little girl with a penchant for rebellion and a sharp tongue would be safer growing up away from Iran... So, Marjane next goes to Austria to live with a friend of her mother's... and as if things couldn't get worse, they do.
What is so interesting and compelling in this story is that Marjane is the same as all young girls- she likes music, and posters, jewelry and wearing jeans. But because of where she is born she is forced to grow up faster and learn to survive. Her "slips" are mostly from her acting like a 10 year old. How she deals with all this conflict, even the conflict within herself as she grapples with what is going on around her and what is in her heart, is written and drawn wonderfully.
This coming of age story, The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, is a tender, heartfelt story of a girl growing up in a world of conflict. The relationship she has with her mother and grandmother are loving and volatile. But what she takes from each of them and tucks away into her soul shows us glimpses of a girl growing up. How she deals with the war & revolution are important, but how she deals with the injustices imposed on her just because she is a female is even more important. The wearing of the veil, the cut of her clothes, the wearing of make-up, a strand of hair out of place, moral etiquette, dating, divorce... these are all things we learn how a young Iranian girl deals with. All of this is why I thought this book would easily fit into the Women Unbound Reading Challenge... This book shows how this young woman deals with the social and political issues present as she grows up in Iran. Marjane is candid, honest, funny and angry. The book will tug at your heart at moments and infuriate you other times. The book spans 14 years, and it is well worth your time cracking the spin!
I really enjoyed reading this book. The Black & White drawings were so expressive and the story flowed easily from the page. I read it in one sitting because I became absorbed in the Marjane's story. If you're not exactly a graphic novel reader, I hope you'll open this book anyway, it is a wonderful read and would be a great start to reading graphic novels!
*I just wanted to welcome the SJVHS's World Literature class students who stopped by here and joined in on the discussion in the comments section about Persepolis! SJVHS stands for St John Vianney High School. They have a great website where they " share our writing, ideas, and multi-media projects." I think it's great that the class has a virtual place to discuss all things literary! Their site is called The Sea Inside Us, which refers to the Franz Kafka quote, “A BOOK MUST BE THE AXE FOR THE FROZEN SEA INSIDE US.” They left me the link to take a look... here it is if you'd like to see what they are discussing... http://theseainside.us/
*P.S. Philadelphia, PA. has chosen Persepolis as their One Book, One Philadelphia pick for 2010 with the distribution of 5000 copies city wide! Read more HERE.