What a neat way to write a memoir! Unfortunately, it fell very flat with me. If it wasn't written as a graphic novel, there is no way that I would have finished reading it.
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
In this collection, we follow a girl named Satrapo as she grows up. For a large chunk of the book, we see what Satrapi's childhood was like during the Islamic revolution. When she is a teenager, her parents send her away to attend school to both keep her safe, and keep her education going. She ends up spending years abroad trying to fit in while also trying to figure out just who she is as an individual. We follow her path up until about age 21.
I do have to start off by saying that this book was very difficult for me to read. The main reason was simply because it was about tough topics for me- religion and politics. The second reason, was that this book was a historical account and reading history with all the dates, names, and info dumps just puts me to sleep. I can’t help it. I just can’t stay focused. So this book took me much longer to read than I anticipated.
As a young girl, Satrapi always wanted to understand what was going on. I loved her passion, but I also had a rough time reading about her character (more on that later).
I thought it was heartbreaking to see how confused the poor girl was when the actions and words of her elders didn't make any sense. For example, one day the teacher is telling her that the Shah was chosen by God, but her parents tell her that is not true. Later, after the revolution that same teacher tells the children to tear out any photo of the Shah from their textbooks. When Satrapi mentioned that the teacher was the one that told them he was chosen by God in the first place, the teacher punishes her for bringing it up.
The artwork was fine. It wasn't super compelling, but I enjoyed the simplicity of it.
Beware, the negatives:
I actually found the main character to be more obnoxious and rude than anything else. Sure, I understand that she is trying to portray how open her family was and how unwilling they were to conform to the new politics and religion.
However, as a child, this character reminded me of that one kid in elementary school that ran around telling everybody that Santa Claus wasn't real, and then told everyone to stop being babies when they got upset about it.
Even as she got closer to age 21, her character still bothered me. She didn't seem "bold" as her mother and father stated, she seemed selfish. In so many situations, she reacted in a way that deepened my dislike of her character.
I also had a rough time with the conflicting messages included in this book. But I just read on, trying not to get too caught up in the flip flopping.
The pacing was alright, but I did have a hard time keeping up with her age progression. So I wish that had been more clear.
My final thoughts:
Of course I understand that this is a memoir. I understand that the history and characters are real. So reviewing books like these can be a struggle for me. But unfortunately in this case, I just didn't like the book overall. I am glad that I finished reading it, but I will not be rereading it.
Thanks for reading!
If you have read this book, what are your thoughts about it?