Started: October 21
Finished: October 21
Category/Genre/Format: Multicultural/Memoir/Graphic Novel
Awards: A New York Times Notable Book; A Time Magazine “Best Comix of the Year”; A San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times Best-seller; Top Ten Frequently Challenged Books of 2014
Themes: Coming of Age, Living in a War
Rating: 5 Stars
Age/Interest Range: 9th grade and Up
This graphic novel is a unique memoir of Satrapi’s growing up during the Islamic Revolution in war-torn Iran. I didn’t know much about this time period before reading this book, and the during the first 20-30 pages I was googling like a crazy person. Sadly, this is the stuff we never got to in my high school history classes. Assuming many others receive a similar high school experience without knowledge about Iraq/Iran/Islamic Revolution, I can’t help but wonder how SOME of the world today could be different if this topic would have been “required.”
Anyway, back to the review: Marjane is a feisty young women living her teen during the Islamic Revolution. She remembers the exact day girls were required to start wearing The Veil. She overhears many adult conversations and forms conclusions with her teenage mind. THUS leading to some confusion as she attempts to come to some sort of understanding regarding what is really going on. Told through humor and some frightening illustrations, we see how ordinary youth of Iraq viewed the historical event they were living.
The graphic novel is illustrated only in black and white, no gray. And this is intential by Satrapi. Black and white aren’t actual colors; black is the absence of color and white is the presence of all colors. Black and white are polar opposites. In the novel, black represents all this bad and scary; White represents all this is good, new, and pure. Any use of gray would have indicated that the reader could have interpreted her writing in another way… This black/white theme also did not allow for any identifiable skin color (nor are any cultural facial features used). Satrapi intentional did this so that members of other cultures could see themselves in this story.
I’m not going to lie – This is some meaty content. That being said, I loved reading every single page. I learned so much and feel to have an increased understand of this time in history. and how some families managed to survive AND have SOME fun (despite the potential extreme consequences of their actions).
Overall Literary Merit: VERY HIGH
Classroom Possibilities: I would definitely use this as an all class text set for high school. I have created a text set to go with this book (located on this blogsite – Search Text Set), and I feel that the knowledge this title provides is essential for high schoolers today. Because of it making The Banned Book List and because of it’s popularity of it’s use in the high school classroom, there is unlimited information found online regarding this graphic novel. (Additionally and very importantly, it provides a format for a diverse reading ability group!)
Here are a few sites I would recommend. I specifically recommend the first one; It offers a group online research lesson that is most definitely needed for some background knowledge prior to reading… http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/gaining-background-graphic-novel-1063.html; http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/pictures-tell-story-improving-1102.html; http://www.webenglishteacher.com/satrapi.html