Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Last night I finished reading Persepolis, a graphic novel about a young girl living through the Islamic Revolution in Iran in the early 1980s. I was deeply moved by this story, my review is below, and it made me think a lot about Molly. Molly is 13, 14 in a few months, and it's so hard to know if I'm always making the right choices as a parent. The main character in the book, Marjane, has the normal teenage independency battles with her parents, but they take on new meaning under the strict regime of Islamic government. I admire their ability to encourage their daughter's love of Western clothing and music, as well as encourage her strength to speak her beliefs in school when it could mean imprisonment for her and/or them. I don't know that I would have that strength of character for my own children; I think I would encourage more outward docility. Marjane had to wear a veil in public, was attacked for wearing jeans and tennies. Molly wears make-up almost daily, low-rider jeans, and lots of jewelry. She also spends most of her waking moments with the phone attached to her ear talking to her boyfriend in Louisiana (nice kid, 1500 miles away makes him even nicer). How would she accept the loss of personal freedoms that Marjane and her friends dealt with daily?

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi is the story of a young girl, the author, from ages 6-14 as she grows up during the Islamic Revolution in Iran in the early 1980s. Marjane's parents are progressive and attend protests as well as support their Communist friends and family members in their struggles to be free. The story is told in black and white simple drawings that somehow manage to capture Marjane's innocence as well as the tragedy and violence of her country's upheaval. The book, almost a collection of vignettes reads beautifully as a child's memories. We only get pieces of stories without always her complete understanding and the story jumps occasionally, but still flows smoothly. Marjane goes through complete confusion as to what is going on through supporting her parents to disbelieving her parents to rebellion against her parents and the world, all of this against a background of riots and oppression. She and her schoolmates are forced to wear veils and beat their chests daily in memory of those lost in the war against Iraq. Marjane loses family and friends in the war in ways that strip her of her innocence and ultimately her own parents. The last frame is devastating. Before reading this graphic novel, when I thought of Iran, I pictured the Shah, Ayatollah Khomeini, and President Ahmadinejad, but this story shows the country through the eyes of a young girl who loved her home and aches for its demise into something unrecognizable. While written several years ago, it has become extremely timely with the events in the news today. There is some light profanity, but nothing worse than any PG-13 movie. This should be required reading in high school Civics classes.

This picture today is of my Grandma Valley. I found a distant cousin who shared his family tree with me including this picture of her with her two younger sisters that no one on our side of the family had ever seen before. Grandma is the eldest in the middle. Her confidence is striking. She's wearing a lavaliere that was given to her when she was three and passed on to Molly on her baptism.