Author: Marjane Satrapi
Type: Graphic Novel, Non Fiction, Autobiography, Young Adult
Rating: 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸 out of 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸
Marjane Satrapi’s memoir about her unforgettable childhood and subsequent growing up years during the Islamic Revolution in Tehran, is ingeniously told using the comic strip format. From the fall of the Shah to the rise of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Satrapi provides the reader with a first hand account of what it was like to be a child growing up during this time. Marjane Satrapi’s decision to tell the story in comic strip form was a wonderful truly informative way to tell her story as it more fully immerses the reader in all that she experienced during this period. From the childhood she spends in Tehran trying to understand why the people are so upset at the government and witnessed the subsequent suppression of civil liberties, to her adolescence spent in Vienna studying and being kept away from the continued fighting at home, to her return to the country of her birth where the citizens have had many of the freedoms they once experienced taken from them, only to eventually make the painful decision to say goodbye to her homeland and family and return to Europe where she has lived in France ever since in self imposed exile.
My first memories of the Iranian Revolution and subsequent fall of the Shah, events which took place prior to my birth, are from my early childhood when my parents would speak of the fact that my father, who was a pilot in the United States Air Force assisted in what has since become known as the Tehran Airlift as a result of the fall of the Shah of Iran who had been an ally to the United States. Although I did not fully understand the revolution or who the Shah had been, I understood that it was because of these key events in Iran’s history that eventually helped lead to the Iran-Iraq War. These were all events which my father tried to explain to me when I was a young child questioning why he was being sent to the Middle East to fight in the Gulf War in the early 1990s. Despite continued dinner time discussions with my Dad after his retirement from the military, and my growing older and more capable of understanding events in history, I still found myself in want of a deeper understanding of events in the Middle East and how we got to the world in which we find ourselves in today.
It was with the 2007 film release of Persepolis and its subsequent Oscar nomination for Best Animated Featured Film of the Year, that I was first introduced to this first person account of what it was like growing up and living in Iran during the time of the Iranian Revolution as a child and young adult. I found myself watching the DVD I had borrowed from the library multiple times in the week that I had it, even going so far as to take it over to my parents house one afternoon to watch with my Dad since he had experienced a part of the Revolution firsthand when he aided in the airlift of the US wives and children of the military men stationed there at the time.
For many people, watching the movie would have been enough, but being the daughter of an Air Force Officer who taught political science at the Air Force Academy, seeing the movie was not enough for me and I always knew that at some point I would read the book. I finally got around to reading Satrapi’s memoir this past September as part of 2015’s Banned Books Week since this year’s theme was young adult books. I loved the movie and I love the original book just as much. I found myself fully immersed in the author’s story and I love that it was told as a graphic novel, for it really brought her story to life much better I feel than if it had just been words on a page. Reading Satrapi’s memoir while also being able to truly visualize everything she discussed fully allowed me to immerse myself in her life and the times in which she was living.
I love how on her reflections of her childhood and growing up during the Iranian Revolution, that Marjane was able to invoke the different attitudes and voices you would expect from a ten year old, a teenager and finally a young woman at the age of twenty-two. The black and white drawings further enhance the mixed emotions Marjane experiences towards her home country, emotions of love and hate and a constant questioning of why things are the way they are. Reading this book makes me not only want to watch the movie again, but also to continue my own personal study of the middle east, the Iranian Revolution and how these events and more have brought us to the world we currently find ourselves in now.