This week I am reviewing a book that changed my perceptions. This isn’t something I get to say often. I learn a little something from every book I read, and I by no means would ever consider myself a racist or anything of the sort. I am well traveled, well-educated, and a peace studies major for goodness sake, but we are all impact by the people we meet over our lives. Aside from one of my best friends from my youth, I don’t have a ton of experience with Iranian people. Based on the news we are exposed to here in the U.S., and the literature I have exposed myself to through my Jewish heritage, my perceptions had been a bit skewed. I was less sympathetic when I heard something happened “in that neck of the woods” than I would have been if they were over a sea in Israel or over an ocean in South Africa. This book helped me to realize that prejudice in myself and to adjust it.
I picked this book for a variety of reasons. It fit quite a few of my reading challenge categories for my 2017 reading challenge: a book that takes place over a character’s life span, a book about an immigrant or refugee, and a book with pictures. I had also been eyeing it back when I worked at Barnes and Noble, so I had been wanting to read it for quite some time. I purchased this for myself at Barnes and Noble around christmas time, and barreled through it shortly there after. I plan to share it with quite a few people.
This autobiography is told in comic form, following the life of author Marjane Satrapi from her youth through old age. It shows in great personal detail the trauma of growing up in a military state, and the negative impact of militant religious leadership. It shows Iran before, during and after the “war” and shows how quickly your life can change from having everything to having nothing. Satrapi also openly discusses universally human issues, like fitting in, finding love, and experimenting dressed with the additional difficulties of being seen as an outsider, and struggling between pride in your heritage and getting along.
Most of us have not dealt directly with the racism Marjane Satrapi faced in her youth and teenage years as an immigrant, separated from her family with people who did not want her around. While reading her life experiences in picture form, I felt my heart break for those still fighting to emigrate from less than ideal living conditions who constantly face disdain and closed doors, particularly with the Immigration bans in the U.S. and other countries around the world. This book also opened my eyes to a thriving and beautiful culture, one that I am very interested to learn more about when my old friend moves back this coming summer!
If you found this book interesting, I have a few recommendations I think you will enjoy. Check out Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World by Ann Shen for more badass women in picture book form. These short stories vignette incredible women throughout history.
If you like the rhythm of the story and exploring one person’s life from start to finish The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald is an interesting and quick read with humor and a splash of fantasy as well. It doesn’t have the same nonfiction aspect of Persepolis, but I think you will still enjoy it. And you can always just watch the movie.
If the plight of immigrants interests you there are tons of books to choose from. I reviewed The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford a while back which definitely touches on these struggles. If you’ve read that and are looking for other suggestions try The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz.
Have you read any of these recommendations? What did you think? Do you have a book that fits one of those categories that isn’t listed here that you think I should read? As always I love to hear your opinions, so please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!