Thursday, October 13, 2011

ARCHIVED REVIEW: Persepolis and Persepolis 2 (8/7/11)

Persepolis and Persepolis 2
by Marjane Satrapi

"In life you'll meet a lot of jerks. If they hurt you, tell yourself that it's because they're stupid. That will help keep you from reacting to their cruelty. Because there is nothing worse than bitterness and vengeance... Always keep your dignity and be true to yourself."

Persepolis is a simply, but elegantly illustrated biographical graphic novel of a young girl growing up in Iran during the revolution, the Iraq war, and the extremist regimes that controlled the country. Marjane Satrapi tells her story with humor and honesty, often in the face of terrible circumstances. She describes a beautiful personal journey to find her identity, a difficult task when at home her government oppresses her individuality, and abroad she struggles to remember her roots where she is seen as the "other." In the end, she is still seeking answers, but her trials and the love of her family have given her strength.

I hate to begin a review like this, but I liked it better than the movie. The movie tried to smush two journeys into one and left out a lot of the more interesting anecdotes and history. It seemed disjointed and unrealistic. However, the books tell the complete story at their own leisurely pace.

I find it difficult to describe her story. I was left with a strong impression of how Persia/ Iran, was once great, rich, and cultured, and due to greed and conflicting ideals, it had fallen to a 3rd world state. I was surprised that only recently the extremist regimes had enforced veils, closed universities, and tightened their grip on civil liberties. I am still rather afraid to show my ignorance on the subject.

What Marjane gives us, though, is a heroine going through the usual pains of growing up, albeit in extreme circumstances. Though many of her readers have not experienced what she has, everyone can relate to the struggles of childhood and adolescence. This way, Marjane can deliver her message to the world. While we all laugh and cry about childhood dreams and first love, we can follow her into and out of Iran to develop a greater understanding of the country and it's people and learn how to stand up to oppression and face our fears.

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