In January 2016, Emma Watson decided that she wanted to start a feminist book club. I really respect Emma Watson and was really excited when I saw that such a smart woman like her would be starting a book club that I could be a part of. In addition to that, I knew that her selections would be books that I would not pick up on my own so this would be a great way to challenge myself and read books outside of my comfort zone.
For the month of June, Emma picked Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. While the picture I provided is of the complete Persepolis story, it was originally split into two books which is how I read it.
Published Year: 2000-2003
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Summary (Provided by Goodreads): 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.
What I thought
Persepolis is a graphic novel autobiography by Marjane Satrapi about growing up in Iran. Her childhood was during the time of the Iran/Iraq war in the 1980s. The first 2 parts (what I read as book one) follow Satrapi through her childhood in Iran until she left to study in Austria at the age of 14. The final two parts (what I read as book two) pick up during Satrapi’s life in Austria through her mid-twenties.
I was born in the late 1980s, so I have no knowledge of the Iran/Iraq war. I know the name Saddam Hussein, but I don’t know what life was like during that time or what life was like in Iran prior to that war. I had no idea that prior to that war/revolution women in Iran didn’t wear veils and had so much more freedom. I have grown up in a time where the oppression of women’s rights in Iran is normal and, sadly, accepted. I was surprised to see how this is only something that has become the norm in the last 20-30 years.
This book was so educational and enlightening. Having not lived through the same times that Satrapi and, of course, the same experiences that she had, I felt like this let me look into a world I didn’t know existed. Satrapi is such a strong woman and reading about her actions and how she lived was inspiring.
I did prefer the first two parts of the story to the second two parts. Once Satrapi left for Austria, I felt frustrated because she lost herself and she started to do some very dumb things. I know that no one is perfect, so that’s not the issue I had. I just felt so angry that someone so strong and who acted as though she knew who she was could be so influenced in her teenage years to lose her way in trying to conform to society. This fact, more so than Satrapi’s actual story, it what angered me.
Everything about this story was fascinating to read. The drawings fit the story so well and I enjoyed the way the Satrapi told her story. I finished both of these books in a day because I needed to know what happened. Every time I got to the end of a “chapter” I couldn’t put it down. I wish that I had been encouraged/forced to read these stories when I was younger. While I don’t think I would’ve appreciated them quite as much as I do now (especially her older years), I think it would’ve opened my eyes to the world a little more.; especially since these books came out bordering the times of 9/11.
One of my favorite personality traits of Satrapi was her passion for reading and knowledge. Every time she found herself faced with something she didn’t know or understand, she would read book after book about the subject to understand it better. This is something that I feel everyone should do when they don’t understand something, but unfortunately it seems as though people prefer ignorance.