Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi is the graphic memoir of a girl’s childhood in Iran during the change from the Shah’s regime, back in the 70s, to a more fundamentalist Islamic society. I was just old enough to remember the Shah of Iran being exiled from his country, the concerns regarding what effect this would have on the political climate in the Middle East.
Marjane tells her life story in short chapter-like vignettes, each with a particular focus. The first contrasts her life before the Shah was removed and after, going to a secular school where she is learning French before the revolution to wearing a veil and learning about Islam. The next chapter introduces her family history from her grandfather who served under the old regime and died in prison to her own parents’ own revolutionary leanings, protesting in the streets but refusing to allow their daughter to participate.
Through the eyes of Marjane, the complexity of political change is experienced. As friendships are forced into separation and even her parents cannot tell what is or is not propaganda, Marjane matures, her feelings becoming more confused as her awareness continues to mature. The ending is a cliffhanger that will leave any reader wanting to read the second book immediately.