by Marjane Satrapi, 341 pages
The author recounts her childhood and coming-of-age before, during, and after Iran's Islamic Revolution.
The first half of this memoir focuses on what's happening in the country around her, the second on how those experiences continue to shape her as an individual. Satrapi is precocious, curious, outspoken, blunt, and fiercely independent, none of which make her safe in her home country and none of which help her adapt to her adopted ones when her liberal, loving family sends her away for her own protection. Despite the frightening events and personal struggles portrayed, there's still a wonderful, snarky sense of humor that surfaces when needed and that exemplifies the author's bitter refusal to give in and knuckle-under. With her simple yet powerful artwork, Satrapi manages to convey the joys and fears and hope and anger of a side of Iran that Westerner's don't even know is there--the familiar, complex, human one. When the animated film adaptation came out a few years ago, Stephen Colbert interviewed Satrapi and warned viewers of the film's dangerousness--it made the enemy look no different than us. A wonderful, powerful book that will give you a very personal history lesson in the form of a mirror held up from the other side of the world.