Summary: Satrapi's autobiography is a timely and timeless story of a young girl's life under the Islamic Revolution. Descended from the last Emperor of Iran, Satrapi is nine when fundamentalist rebels overthrow the Shah. While Satrapi's radical parents and their community initially welcome the ouster, they soon learn a new brand of totalitarianism is taking over. Satrapi's art is minimal and stark yet often charming and humorous as it depicts the madness around her. She idolizes those who were imprisoned by the Shah, fascinated by their tales of torture, and bonds with her Uncle Anoosh, only to see the new regime imprison and eventually kill him. Thanks to the Iran-Iraq war, neighbors' homes are bombed, playmates are killed and parties are forbidden. Satrapi's parents, who once lived in luxury despite their politics, struggle to educate their daughter. Her father briefly considers fleeing to America, only to realize the price would be too great. "I can become a taxi driver and you a cleaning lady?" he asks his wife. Iron Maiden, Nikes and Michael Jackson become precious symbols of freedom, and eventually Satrapi's rebellious streak puts her in danger, as even educated women are threatened with beatings for improper attire. Despite the grimness, Satrapi never lapses into sensationalism or sentimentality. Skillfully presenting a child's view of war and her own shifting ideals, she also shows quotidian life in Tehran and her family's pride and love for their country despite the tumultuous times. Powerfully understated, this work joins other memoirs-Spiegelman's Maus and Sacco's Safe Area Goradze-that use comics to make the unthinkable familiar. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Notable Information: This text has the power to convert the non-reader of graphic novels to an avid one! Reviewer after reviewer will testify that he or she sat down to begin the book and didn't get up until they finished. Middle and high school students can experience this, too. By starting them off with reading American Born Chinese, some will be ready to move onto this heavier, more mature text. The text is highly political while still managing to focus on the individual growth and development of the narrator. The reader has to rely heavily on reading between the lines of this text, as well as the illustrations in order to gain the full understanding of the story. Therefore, graphic novels, such as this one, create a rich environment to work on the tough reading and thinking skills of inference and interpretation.
Sequel: Perspepolis II
This sequel begins where the first left off and chronicles the older years of Marji's life. This sequel presents a different subset of issues and best suits high school readers. Be advised: if this book sits next to the first one, the reader will immediately pick it up to find out what happened where the first left off!