Thursday, March 4, 2010

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

Marjane Satrapi chronicles her life when growing up during the Islamic revolution. When the Shah is overthrown Marjane and her family are overjoyed but soon realize that their hopes for liberty are being thwarted by a new and powerful regime. While she and her family hold onto their freedom (with clandestine card parties and music bought from the black market) the war with Iraq breaks out, increasing tensions among Iranians as they fight over religion and food supplies. From the innocent and often naïve perspective of childhood, Satrapi presents a dissident voice during a troubling time.

Can one be patriotic and dissident at the same time? The Satrapi family loves their country so much they do not want to leave despite the increasing violence and subjugation. They love their culture, friends and family and feel their life in Iran is better than what it could be anywhere else, including the United States. They want to make their home a better place by staying rather than leaving. It is the people that define a nation and Marjane’s parents want to be a part of that definition. Despite the context she grows up in, Marjane is a typical teenager who wants to go to parties and listen to popular music. Marjane is resilient after all she sees and experiences during protests and war. Seeing Marjane as a typical kid should make it easier for U.S. kids to identify with her and put themselves in her shoes and to ask how they would have felt if they were Marjane’s maid, neighbor or if they were Marjane herself.

I read this book in one sitting and enjoyed it a lot. The text offered an inside perspective of a third-world country that I would likely have never seen otherwise. It shows us what it was/is like for women who are forced to wear the veil. Marjane’s spunky attitude kept me hooked. It was amazing that she never asked the reader for sympathy or pity but to simply listen to her story. She just wants her side of the story, the unheard part of the truth, to be told.
Publisher: Pantheon Books, 2004     Source: IC Public Library                  Pages: 160
Rating: 5 Stars                                  Recommended Age: 13 and up

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