Things in Print Thursday :: monthly book review [Persepolis]

31 Mar

So March is Women’s History Month, so I wanted to read something not just about women but about women’s history.  The ways that women’s experiences are different than those of men.  I also didn’t want to read something with a sad ending, because I know that happens but I wanted to read something with a hopeful tone.  I also didn’t want to read something about someone American or European, because I wanted to read about something I didn’t know much about.

Add to this that I’ve been vaguely intending to read Persepolis since the movie came out years ago and I first heard of it (that was back in the long-ago days when I didn’t really read graphic novels or comic books but I said “one of these days I should start,” and also I was in high school and my reading schedule was… weird) and it seemed an easy choice.

God, how do I really do a book review about someone’s real life, though?  It’s such a weird thing, because you can’t exactly analyze plot structure or character development or anything, because that’s not how real life stories work.  Except, I’ve noticed, a lot of people who write about their real lives write about it because it sort of does structure properly in a narrative sense.  Such is the case with Marjane Satrapi.

Something I also know about art is: to make drawings of people that don’t look like exact perfect drawings of people, perhaps that look easy to draw, takes a lot more effort.  Personal art style is developed after you know what you’re doing and I really liked the imperfect but very graphic style of art here.  I’m not sure exactly how else to analyze the art, either, because I am really only a dilettante as art goes, but it was effective.

But back to the story.  Satrapi is Iranian and she grows up as the country undergoes political and cultural changes, war, and revolution.  Her family is fairly intellectual, but also traditional in some ways; she herself is intellectual, but especially in her younger years very driven by the faith she’s been taught.  She experiences upheaval, loses a revolutionary uncle, rebels in various ways, gets sent away, experiences heartbreak – all alongside commentary on world events.  It’s never preachy and the historical context and the narrative inform each other in a way to make this both educational and compelling.  Also, by the time the story ends and Satrapi is in a balanced, good place, lifewise, it feels hard-earned and well-deserved.  I like that a lot.  That’s the sort of inspirational thing that feels unfortunately rare in this kind of story, and it’s refreshing.

–your fangirl heroine.



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