I don’t always like assigned reading. The idea of being forced to read a book tends to take the fun out of the whole experience for me. Every once in a while, though, I’m lucky to be assigned a book that I wouldn’t normally pick out and end up really enjoying. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is one of those books.
Persepolis is an autobiographic comic book about Satrapi’s coming-of-age in Iran in the 80s. For historical context, Iran was dealing with the aftermath of the Islamic Revolution and entering a war with Iraq. Two things that I didn’t expect to like about this book – the comic book format and history lessons. I don’t read comic books, and history has never been my favorite subject (but anything’s better than math). However, I found that the format of the story helped it move along faster; I finished the book in a couple hours. I would actually recommend taking your time to appreciate the drawings, though, if you’re not in a rush to finish a school assignment. As far as the historical aspect: did I fully understand what was happening in Iran at all times? No, but I wasn’t as confused as I expected to be.
This is one of those books where you realize that people around the world are really all the same. Satrapi is like most children – inquisitive, mischievous, adventurous. Even in the circumstances she grows up with, she spends a lot of time thinking and talking about childish things. One example is when she constantly compares her relatives to her classmates’ relatives, based on how heroic they are. Finally, she meets a family member who was a war prisoner longer than her friend’s dad – a true hero in the family! I really enjoyed Satrapi’s unique (and often funny) perspective as a young girl experiencing a shift in Iranian society.
I’ll be reading the sequel Persepolis II: The Story of a Return soon, so I’ll update with my thoughts on that!
Note: If this sounds like something you might like, I would also recommend the Maus books by Art Spiegelman. They’re comic books about the author’s father and his experiences during the Holocaust. Another school assignment that I liked!