Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Occasionally, I enjoy reading a good graphic novel and The Complete Persepolis is exactly that--a good graphic novel. Marjane Satrapi's memoir about growing up and coming of age in Iran is compelling at times, mainly because of the historical context. The slow and systemic radicalization and oppression of the Iranian people is presented in a realistic but heart-breaking way. The glimmers of hope throughout the novel are how people continue to find joy with others and in life, secretly, behind closed curtains in private places. The flip-side is a weighing sadness that people must hide freedom, joy, happiness, thought, and expression because government actors can always be right around the corner.
The journey the reader goes on with Satrapi is an exploration of this polarity between public and private space, and how she (and those around her) constantly negotiate this way of living. The true contradiction or conflict is how one's love for family and country is overcome with exploring a need to leave home and flee from it in order to truly understand oneself. In a lot of ways, that is a theme most wrestle with at some point during life.
Like most graphic novels, this is a quick read. At times, it is also a compelling one. The greatest value in reading The Complete Persepolis is gaining insight into the real oppression some around the world live with every day, and what appears from the collective outside may not at all reflect what is inside the individual hearts and minds of good people. I think our world needs more of that kind of understanding, which would make us all a little more "complete."
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