Review of Persepolis 1: The Story of A Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

Review of Persepolis 1: The Story of A Childhood by Marjane SatrapiPersepolis 1: The Story Of A Childhood by Marjane Satrapi
Published by Perfection Learning Corporation on 2004-06-01
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs, Women
Pages: 153
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

Originally published to wide critical acclaim in France, where it elicited comparisons to Art Spiegelman's MausPersepolis is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran: of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life and of the enormous toll repressive regimes exact on the individual spirit. Marjane’s child's-eye-view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a stunning reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, through laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.

Persepolis 1: The Story of A Childhood by Marjane Satrapi is a graphic novel which will haunt me, much in the way that Maus still haunts me. Persepolis follows the circumstances of the Islamic Revolution in Iran and how it affected the life of the author who grew up during this revolution. I think this was a memoir, but I could be wrong. Persepolis 1:  The Story of A Childhood was one of my Readathon picks, and I would say my favorite. Now, I have a whole backlist of books to review, but I am driven to talk with you about Persepolis 1: The Story of A Childhood, because really, it is one of those books which just asks to be discussed.

Within the graphic novel Persepolis 1: The Story of A Childhood by Marjane Satrapi is history, rumination on revolutionary ideology, women’s rights, indoctrination, family ties, and what it means to be a young teenager caught in the midst of a theocratic uprising. I found Persepolis 1: The Story Of A Childhood to be compulsively readable. The main character, the author, Marjane is awkward, yet you can’t help but like her and want everything to turn out alright for her family. However, we all know revolutions aren’t pretty. We know a bomb does not distinguish between the family or the enemy.

You could say Persepolis 1: The Story of A Childhood by Marjane Satrapi is unflinchingly honest. It will make you laugh, it will make you cringe. For example, in the beginning Marjane is gung-ho about revolution and basically repeats all she hears from her teachers and TV without really thinking about what she is saying. At first this comes across as funny, but on further examination, it is rather depressing. I mean, this is what most children do, they repeat what they hear without really understanding it, and it makes me sad at how easy kids are to indoctrinate. The book shows one part where young boys are indoctrinated and convinced to join the army as child soldiers. This broke my heart. And here’s the thing, it still goes on today. I hate that children have to fight a war for some adult cause.

There is another part in Persepolis 1: The Story of A Childhood by Marjane Satrapi where Marjane’s mother is walking home sans a veil and she is harassed by fundamentalists for her lack of religious clothing. They imply rape, and how if she was sexually assaulted it would be her fault because of her shiny hair and not wearing a veil. To me that is vile. However, I think we see this in western culture as well. Just the other day I read an article on Salon where a TV show was called out for blaming spring break rapes on women wearing bikinis. The blame the victim mentality definitely makes my heart ache.

Persepolis 1: The Story of A Childhood is not a feel-good graphic novel. However, if you want to read a book which will have you thinking and discussing, I recommend you run out and grab this immediately. I am glad I have a copy of this on my shelf.

Other Reviews of Perspolis 1: The Story Of A Childhood by Marjane Satrapi:

Brenda Loves Books
Secret Dreamworld Of A Bookaholic
What Kate’s Reading
Book Nut


About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Stephanie says

    Thanks for the review; this has been on my wishlist for a while and it looks like I will need to be in a specific mood to read it. Usually I look for happy, feelgood books but I will make sure to carve out serious reflection time while reading it.

  2. This was one of my first graphic novels. I liked it a lot, but Part 2 wasn't as good for me. Later I read both Embroideries and Chicken With Plums (as I was saying on Twitter the other day) and adored both of them, liked them better than Persepolis!

  3. Christina T says

    Great review! I really liked this one too and found to be very moving.

  4. Miel Abeille says

    Persepolis was the book chosen for the "One City, One Book" campaign in Philadelphia. I thought about reading it, but I can't say that I am a fan of graphic novels. Your review could inspire me to read it someday. 😛

  5. I'm so glad you liked it! I read the complete edition and I think I enjoyed the second half even more.

  6. I don't know if you've heard of it, but a couple of years ago they released a movie (comic book style) of this series that was wonderfully done. It's in french and although I haven't read these books, it made me want to..

  7. I did watch the movie version, but have yet to read the graphic novel. I'll pick it up one of these days! Great review!

  8. A Bookshelf Monstrosity says

    This is one of my upcoming reads for the Women Unbound Challenge. I'm really looking forward to it.

  9. This is a great book. I had to read it for my New International Fiction freshman year of college. It's amazing how much literature, historical, social, and cultural analysis can be squeezed out of a fictional picture book.

  10. This sounds like a good read. I'll definitely have to check this one out : )

    HAPPY readings!!!


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