Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

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!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.


Folklore/Evermore Songs as Little Women Characters

Exile-Jo and Laurie

This song is a duet and the parts work out perfectly for Laurie and Jo. Justin sings as Laurie, and Taylor sings as Jo.

“I can see you standing, honey, with his arms around your body

After Laurie and Amy come home from Paris, Frederich shows up at the March house. Laurie immediately becomes defensive and standoffish, demanding to know who he is.

And it took you five whole minutes to pack us up and leave me with it.

After Jo rejected his proposal, she ran off to New York to be a writer. Laurie most likely viewed her leaving as her running away from him, which honestly most likely was a factor in her decision to leave. Losing yet another person was enough to drive her away completely.

Holding all this love out here in the hall

This line is pretty literal in terms of Laurie and Jo’s relationship. He is literally standing in the hall when he first meets Frederich. As he said during the proposal scene “You will [fall in love], it’s your way, you will and I’ll watch.” And he does watch; he watches from the hallway.

You were my town, now I’m in exile seeing you out

Laurie was in love with Jo. Sure, it was a juvenile, naive love, but he still felt like he loved her enough to marry her. Now, he watches from afar as she does the one thing she swore she’d never do.

I can see you staring honey, like he’s just your understudy. Like you’d get your knuckles bloody for me.

Now it’s Jo’s turn. She knows seeing her with Fred hurts Laurie, but he already hurt her. She knows Laurie sees Fred as not good enough for her, because he’s defensive and protective and some part of him still loves her. He always will.

Second, third, and hundredth chances, balancing on breaking branches. Those eyes add insult to injury.

Jo was about to give Laurie a second chance when she came back. She was going to marry him and out everything aside. Of course, this was probably directly in response to Beth’s death, which rattled her due to losing yet another person. She probably realized that the only way to make sure no one else left was to take Laurie back, but she most likely didn’t really understand that was why she did what she did. Unfortunately, Laurie comes back married, and then she’s walking on eggshells because of her strong feelings about him. The way he talks to her and acts loving toward her just makes it worse.

I’m not your problem anymore, so who am I offending now?

Jo realizes she has caused Laurie a lot of pain. She’s used to her temper causing issues in her life, but he always stayed with her. Now that she’s lost him, she wonders who she will hurt next.

We always walked a very thin line

Laurie and Jo were best friends, but as they got older, they walked a very thin line between brotherly/sisterly love and romantic love. Everyone thought they should have gotten married. Laurie crossed the line. Jo didn’t.

”You didn’t even hear me out (you didn’t even hear me out)

For Laurie, this line means that he tried to “make you hear now and give me an answer” when he proposed. He thought they’d be good together because they were so close. For Jo, this line is different. She tried to make him hear her out in why they wouldn’t work. She wanted to be independent and she knew her stubborn, headstrong tendencies would ruin any marriage, and that would ruin their friendship.

You never gave a warning sign (I gave so many signs)

Laurie thought Jo loved him back, and was naive to the fact that she didn’t want to marry. Her reaction to Meg’s marriage should have been enough proof, but he was blind and believed she felt differently.

All this time, I never learned to read your mind (never learned to read my mind) I couldn’t turn things around.

I think that the complications of Jo and Laurie’s relationship would definitely be solved if they weren’t such opposites. If they had understood each other as they grew older and “read” each other’s minds, all the confusion never would have happened. When Jo came back from New York, she tried to turn things around, but in the end it was too late. Of course, all of this was for the better, and the two of them matured and stayed friends. Romance was not for them.

I think I’ve seen this film before, and I didn’t like the ending.


Folklore/Evermore Songs as Little Women Characters

The One-Jo March

Welcome to my (Bella’s) new installment on the blog! I’ll be going through Taylor Swift’s new albums (Folklore and Evermore) and connecting the songs to characters from Little Women.

I easily and quickly connected this song to Jo March, and more specifically to Jo’s relationship with Laurie.

“I’m doing good I’m on some new sh*t”

I see this song as Jo’s narrative in regards to Laurie, and the way she views their relationship now that she’s grown up. She’s gone away to New York, onto some new things, meeting people and living life. She thinks about her childhood best friend often, though.

”I hit the ground running each night, I hit the Sunday matinee

This line is pretty straightforward, as well as specific (in regards to the (2019) movie—not so much in the book). While in New York, Jo goes to many plays, one of them being the play she meets Frederich at. This is also a parallel to the play(s) she attended with Laurie when she was younger.

And if you never bleed you’re never gonna grow, and it’s alright now”

Jo hurt herself in rejecting Laurie, though it’s not because she was in love with him in the same way. She lost him as her friend because she ran away from her problems. But, she became a grown person with a semi-successful career and found love—different love—but still love. It’s alright now.

And if my wishes came true, it would have been you”

Jo tells her mother that she regrets not accepting Laurie’s proposal, and that if he asked her again she would say yes. She even writes him a note, but destroys it before he can find it. She is desperate, and wishes to be loved, and wishes for the people she had in her childhood to come back.

“In my defense I have none, for never leaving well enough alone”

Jo simply could have accepted the proposal and been happy with Laurie (or at least that’s what she thinks). The relationship was comfortable, if unfulfilling, and friendly. She could have pushed down her pride and not been so headstrong, and she could have kept him. Not because she loved him romantically, but because she was afraid of losing yet another person from her childhood.

“I had this dream you’re doing cool sh*t/having adventures on your own”

After Jo leaves, Laurie goes off to Europe. He does have adventures on his own, then…not on his own. Jo doesn’t know this though, not until they are reunited a while later.

“You know the greatest loves of all time are over now”

Everyone expected the pair to marry—according to Laurie at least. Everyone thought they loved each other, and they did, just not in the same ways. Jo loved Laurie as a friend, a comrade. Laurie loved Jo in a juvenile, puppy-love kind of way, like he’d had a crush on her for so long that he viewed that familiarity as love. As they grew, they both recognized their love for each other was not the kind of love you marry for.

“And it’s another day waking up alone”

When Jo talks to Marmee, she admits that she’s “so lonely” and only desires to be loved.

“In my defense I have none, for digging up the grave another time”

Jo stirs these feelings up herself after she comes home. She is confused and sad and grieving, and misses the one thing she believes she can get back. She’s lost everyone else; Meg, Amy, and Beth are all gone. Laurie, she believes, is still reversible, and then she’ll get to keep some part of her childhood bliss. Of course, as the lyrics explain, that is already dead, and she’s just digging up old feelings that have no right coming back into the light.

But it would have been fun if you would have been the one.


And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

“One little soldier boy left all alone;

He went and hanged himself

And then there were None.” 

Agatha Christie follows this poem throughout the novel. A nursery rhyme gone wrong. In a clever way, Christie uses a silly poem to determine the fate of each character.

The well detailed mystery novel by the “Queen of Mystery” did not let me down. In the book, ten strangers are lured onto a mysterious island by a mysterious host. Once the guests arrive, they realize that matters are quite strange when nobody knows who invited them there. The once relaxing vacation turns into a stressful stay. Each person on the island is accused of murdering someone, making the situation interesting. Later that night, the killer strikes for the first time. More and more guests continue to die, leaving the strangers to understand that a murderer is among them. Leaving the island is impossible due to an oncoming storm. The guests must figure out who the killer is before they all end up dead.

This novel has a great twist in the end, I am sure it is almost impractical to guess who did it. This is a great book to keep you entertained. I read this book in a matter of days and could not put it down. 



The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

My biggest fear is that I will look back on my life with unhappiness and regret, wishing I had done more, seen more, made different choices. Essentially, my biggest fear is becoming Nora Seed. 

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig introduces Nora Seed, a woman nearing the age where she should have her life figured out, yet everything is going wrong. She finds herself overwhelmingly depressed, grieving the lives she could have lived. She sees no hope for her future. So, Nora decides to die. But before dying, she finds herself in a strange in-between world: the Midnight Library. With the help of a childhood mentor, Nora has the ability to see what could have happened if she chose different paths. She receives the gift of a second chance at life. As she bounces between lives, Nora must learn what makes her truly happy before it’s too late. 

I was so excited when I came across this book because it has SUCH an interesting concept, unlike anything I’ve read so far. What first came to mind was a quote by Sylvia Plath, and I was surprised to see it written in the beginning of the book:

“I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in my life.”

Now, normally, I don’t enjoy books with aspects of fantasy, but I genuinely enjoyed reading this book. Yes, the idea of the Midnight Library is dreamy and unrealistic, but there is a lot of truth to Nora’s story. I think so many people can relate to Nora’s feelings of regret and inadequacy. And younger people, like myself, may feel the pressure to make all the right choices in order to have a happy future. 

I found it exciting to watch Nora jump from one life to the next and experience alternate versions of herself. In each life, it was also interesting to see how her choices impacted the lives of those around her. Haig’s storytelling made me think about all the choices we make and how even the smallest ones have a huge impact. A certain appreciation for everyday life also shines through in his writing. Without giving away too much of the story, I finished the book with a new sense of purpose and hope. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.