Book Review: Persepolis

Part One:

Book Information:

Satrapi, M. (2003). Persepolis. New York, NY: Pantheon Books.

Genre: Graphic Novel / Memoir, autobiographical comic

Grade Level: Grades 7-12, young adult, adult.

I would actually suggest that teachers get permission from student’s parents to read this book. There is some graphic violence and sexual content discussed in this book. Rather than upset the parents, teachers should obtain permission slips to read and analyze this book, putting it into context to history, multiculturalism, social sciences, and geography.

Part Two:  Response to the book: Predictions, thoughts about craft.

I absolutely loved this book! I am looking forward to reading Persepolis 2: The story of a return. I can’t wait to see what happens. The first book kind of left the reader wanting to know more, or what happened next. I never really enjoyed reading throughout school, nor even after that. But I can honestly say I couldn’t put this book down. I did a little background on the author while I was studying for references (listed below under resources). Come to find out, the author also created a film based on this book. Really neat! It is a foreign animated film she made while living in France, and I would be interested to watch it. It may be a little hard to follow because it reveals their language with subtitles, but I think it would be a good supplement to reading this novel.

After reading this novel, I learned a lot about the Islamic/Iranian culture & war. I knew the veils were worn to hide the women, but I never knew it was forced upon or feared not to wear it. This graphic novel had really good images that provided so much to the story line and were interesting to look at. Every image nearly had a different scene, and they portrayed emotions easily. I also liked the addition of the titles for each chapter, because I haven’t read a graphic novel that had chapter titles. Persepolis had a great storyline and was crafted extremely well. It depicted real life situations that happen during war through a child’s perspective. There was a little violence and sexual content within, which I was surprised to see. The author actually uses the word “fucked” and that probably isn’t the most appropriate way to say it. Although she is probably trying to reveal the truth and exert emotion, it was a bit of a shocker.

In comparison to A Game For Swallows, I find this storyline a little more interesting. I am not exactly sure why, I just felt it was easier to read (less confusing), a little less busier (the images), and a little more knowledgeable about the culture and war.

Part Three: Critique  

This was a graphic novel based on an autobiography of young Marjane Satrapi living in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. Persepolis is reference to the capital of the Persian Empire. It discusses Iran’s political past and current revolution. It depicts heroes and Villans, and other characters of importance. The use of symbols relevant to the culture is used in chapter titles. The bicycle, letter, water cell, celebration and the sheep. It also symbolizes the F-14’s, jewels, and the key (promise to the poor). The forbiddance of wine/alcohol and the challenges of obtaining passports additionally demonstrate the true cultural experience. This book illustrates a realism which readers can connect to. I wish more authors would come out with books that share their cultures. I believe people find interest in learning about first hand experiences. Wonderfully written, I would definitely suggest this book to young adult/adult readers.

Part Four:  Lesson Plan / Activity (Grades 7-12)

Using the Common Core State Standards:

Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.

Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot).

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.3 Identify key steps in a text’s description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7 Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.6-8.8Distinguish among facts, reasoned judgment based on research findings, and speculation in a text.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.


  • Students will be able to effectively use research techniques using the computer and internet.

  • Students will present knowledge based on research obtained, in groups.

  • Students will use technology (powerpoints, using a web tool, videos, etc.) to present.

  • Students will be able to identify facts about the Iran/Islamic/Persian Culture and war.

**Students will use the webquest resources and the graphic novel to support their presentation.

Lesson outline:

  • For this lesson I would have students read the book over a certain time period. (Maybe 2 weeks?)

  • After creating a webquest for the Iran/Islamic/Persian cultures, students will begin their webquest in groups. Obtain a role, gather research & facts related to their role, and present the information in class using technology.

This project may take 2-3 weeks (depending how much time you want them to spend on the research portion, and the availability of computers. Also, depending on the grade level, teachers could increase/decrease complexity.

Discussion questions:

  • Why did Marji want to be a prophet?

  • Why did people oppose the wearing of the veil in the very beginning?

  • Why does American pop culture have such an influence on Marji and kids her age?

  • What effect does the war in Iran have on Marji’s daily life? Does the Iran war affect people in America?

  • What happened to Marji’s grandfather?

  • Why do Marji’s parents think it is better for her to live in Vienna, than be home with them?

Links to outside resources:

The California Science Center in Los Angeles displayed an exhibit almost 2 years ago called 1001 inventions. Here is a link to a PDF. that displays the highlights of that exhibit. I actually got to see it myself, it was really neat! They also have been touring this exhibit to other countries.

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