Author: Marjane Satrapi
Genre: Memoir, Historical, Graphic Novel
Price: $13.95 (paperback)
I'm not a huge graphic novel person. I've read a couple, liked them, but it isn't a genre I actively seek out. When I heard about Persepolis last year my interest was piqued not because it fit my reading taste, necessarily, but for teaching purposes. If teacher education does one thing to you, it gives you a radar for potentially useful books (at least if you're an English teacher). Even if the book ended up not being my cup of tea, then it might be one for a student.
Well, I loved the book. Persepolis is the graphic novel memoir of Marjane Satrapi's childhood in Iran, during the Iranian Revolution. Within the interestingly stark black and white illustrations and witty, quick text, there is a story of a young girl coming of age and coming to terms with a radical change taking place in her country. While most graphic novels are a quick read, simply by nature, Persepolis zips by because you can't put the book down.
While the story is a familiar one (who doesn't love a good coming of age tale?), it is set in a place and time I think many Americans, especially young Americans, are unfamiliar with. I knew very little about the Iranian Revolution. Hostages and Jimmy Carter were generally the two things that came to mind. After reading Persepolis, I have a better grasp of not only what led to the revolution and the events within it, but I also have a better idea of who (some of) the Iranian people are--which I think is an important group of people to understand, considering our current "relationship" with the country.
Comparable Reads: There is a Persepolis II, which covers the later years of Marjane's childhood and then her adulthood. Anything I said above pretty much applies to this book. It's good. Another book that comes to mind is Funny in Farsi, which is another memoir of an Iranian woman and her family's move to America shortly before the Iranian revolution and their adjustment to the American way of life.
Who This Book is For: Middle school and up. I would be cautious in letting, maybe, seventh graders at this book because it does deal with some pretty heavy stuff (the realities of war and some hardcore politics from another country), but beyond that, it's a funny, interesting, and informative read that I think many teens, young adults, and "real" adults could get into.