That’s what happened to me when I picked up Marjane Satrapi’s “The Complete Persepolis.”
My initial reasoning behind picking up the book – from my local library, of course – was that it is the June reading for Emma Watson’s “Our Shared Shelf” feminist book club. I haven’t read every month’s book, but decided to give this one a try.
For those who don’t know, Persepolis is the story of Marjane’s childhood and growth into adulthood during the Islamic Revolution. The story touches on life both pre- and post-revolution, from the eyes of an adolescent growing into an adult.
It took me a little bit of time to get into it, mostly because this was the first time I’d ever read something in comic-strip/graphic novel format. Ever. In the end, I think that format was really appropriate and helped me not just read about Marjane’s experiences, but visualize them in a way that made them more accessible to me.
Among the most touching of moments, to me, was when her parents sent her to Austria at a young age. It begins as a “you go ahead first, we’ll be coming soon after” story, but quickly you realize – and then it’s confirmed – that her parents aren’t coming along after all. I can’t even begin to imagine how difficult that would be.
In the end, I found this to be an incredible, moving, edgy and personal look into life during this period. It’s not just about war, and revolution, although it certainly is about those topics; it’s also about growing up, and facing some of the same issues that adolescents across the world face: sex, love, leaving home, and the like. At the same, Marjane also has to deal with war, religion, the regime that makes her wear a hood and the oppression of women, and so many other trials and tribulations.
This should be required reading for all.
(Also: it wasn’t until after that I realized this is the complete version, as in, there are separate volumes. I recommend that you find a copy like this, with all the pieces together, if you can, and read it that way! In addition, there is apparently a film adaptation, which I’ll hopefully get a chance to see soon.)