Persepolis is a "graphic memoir," or memoir in the format of a graphic novel. (I have no idea why my school likes making ninth-graders read memoirs so much, but they do.) It's about Marjane, or Marji, as she prefers to be called, and how she grows up during the Iranian revolution. As she grows older, the government becomes stricter. Laws restrict personal freedoms in the name of "being good Muslims" and "avoiding lavishness," and thousands of people are killed. As she becomes more rebellious, she has to strike a balance between defining herself and her personal safety.
Author: Marjane Satrapi
Genre: Memoir (in a graphic-novel format)
In the preface, Marjane writes about how she "wants Persepolis to show that not all Muslims are terrorists" and that most of them are normal. She fulfills this throughout the book. I enjoyed learning more about Iran, and its people, as I'd only really known about it through the news. I found the story to be interesting as a whole, and the drawings were vivid. The attempts the population made as a whole to overthrow their government was astounding, and I really enjoyed reading about that. Marji's portrayals of her family and friends show that Iranians aren't that different than us, and if we were put in the same situation, we might very well do the same thing. I was really struck by Marji's devotion to her family, especially to her uncle.
Some parts of the story, however, were bland. The memoir seemed to go on a bit too long, and for every several chapters that were fascinating, there was one that seemed to drag on. There are also some derogatory terms used towards women, but other than that, there isn't much that's controversial about Persepolis. During the first few chapters, the overabundance of Iranian history was really confusing, and with so many passages depicted with a black-and-white drawing and a caption, it was sometimes hard to keep it all straight. I also felt that sometimes the graphic-novel format made passages unclear, but to be fair, it also brought many to life.
I'd give it three out of five stars. Overall, though I enjoyed Persepolis, its glut of Iranian history and length made it hard for me to highly recommend. While I enjoyed learning about Iran as more than a war-torn place, I won't be reading the sequel. Although rather unsatisfying, if you're looking to learn about Iran's true history (not just what's in the media) and the impact it has on its people, this is for you.