What could I possibly say about Persepolis you haven’t heard before? So instead of the more typical book review, don’t worry there will be those aspects as well, I want to talk more about my personal relationship to this fantastic graphic novel.
I absolutely adore the Goodreads blurb, so forgive me if I borrow from its brilliance: Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.
I remember when I first heard about Persepolis, it must have been in high school. This was when there was talk of a movie, and I didn’t even know about it’s publishing as a graphic novel. I quickly ran to my library and reserved my copy, to wait patiently for the library fairies to bring it to me. I remember falling in love with the graphic novel style, the blend of history and humor, and Marjane’s narrative voice. Perspolis brought me to a world I had never known before, a time of warfare, dogma, and growing up. I remember how much it moved me with its descriptions of loss, but also Marjane’s inability to fit in and her challenges growing up.
It’s no different today when I am finally able to read the entire collection and, if anything, it is much better. Having matured a bit, Persepolis appeals to me on a deeper level. Marjane’s difficulty with Austrian culture hits home to my own difficulties adjusting to Germany, her feeling of not fitting in mirrors my own, and her rebellious tendencies continue to inspire me.
Persepolis is one of those rare books that get not only better with age, but that teach you something each time you read it again. Different parts of Marjane’s life and struggles tend to resonate with you, make your soul twang with a resounding noise, and it becomes more moving than you believed. There is discussion of warfare, of feeling out of place, and much more. The balance between these issues of torture and persecution is brilliantly told alongside Marjane’s coming of age story. If you haven’t read Persepolis before, take this as your firm advice to go do so. There is such a wealth to it that I believe I’m just starting to tap into. It is absolutely worth your time and is such an amazing graphic novel. You can find Persepolis on Goodreads.