Book Riot Challenge: Persepolis

I decided to read Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis for the task ‘read a book about religion’ as it is about a young girl’s experiences in Iran when the 1979 Islamic Revolution took place.

Ultimately, it is a story about childhood. The images are simplistic. This shows the simplicity by which the world is viewed by the young and the innocent. Readers can expect to experience a whole range of emotions when reading this book, from happiness to anger, and from fear to unthinkable grief. 

We see that Marji learns from her school teacher that the Shah is divine. When the Shah is overthrown, and the new Islamic regime takes control, we see the confusion Marji and other children were faced with. Marji was lucky in the sense that she was respected by her parents and provided a relatively large amount of freedom, but we do see some instances where this leads to Marji almost getting herself into a lot of trouble, by daring to show some hair, or wearing lipstick.

At the beginning of the book, Marji takes refuge in God. She believes she is a prophet and turns to God for everything. Later, as Marji becomes more aware of suffering, often in the name of God and religion, she turns on God and can no longer see how God would allow the things she witnesses and hears about everyday.

We quickly come to realise that the Islamic regime is really not much better than the monarchy that came before it, and we are exposed, through Marji’s eyes, to a lot of violence, suffering, and sometimes death. The stark differences between the light and dark scenes clearly depict the mood of the scenes, and this is a great technique to show the drastic change in emotions throughout. 

For me, the overarching theme and most important message of the book was that the actions of extremists do not reflect the attitudes and beliefs of a nation. This is such an important thing to remember, particularly in today’s political and religious climate. I recommend this book to readers over the age of thirteen or fourteen, as there are scenes of death and some swearing, but this book can absolutely be enjoyed by adults too. 

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