Review 1: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Overall Rating: 5 Stars

After receiving the IB Booklist last summer, I started stocking up on all the books required for my program.  Atonement by Ian McEwan (by the way a review and reading aide is coming soon), Beloved by Toni Morrison, and yes, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi.  The interesting traits of Satrapi’s novel, compared to the other texts in the IB curriculum for English, is that it is an autobiographical piece.  Satrapi writes of her childhood in Iran during the early 1980s, during the Islamic Revolution.  In addition to her diverse genre and topic, Satrapi also stuns with the medium of her autobiography: a graphic novel.

At first blush, I was unsure of reading the novel.  I had never read a graphic novel before, and the topic of the Islamic Revolution, in my mind, seemed too dark to draw pictures of.  However, my reservations were soon dismissed.  Persepolis is a fantastic example of catering to the audience.  In order to reach more people with her story, Satrapi illustrated her childhood.  People who didn’t like to read or didn’t have the time could still learn about the Revolution and truly understand what was going on.  

Despite having such an economy of words and limited color (the drawings are in black and white), Satrapi expertly crafted Persepolis’ setting, characters, and historical context into an understandable narrative, illustrating the innocence of a childhood that was stolen by national strife.  Taking place in the latter part of the 20th century in Iran, Satrapi describes her country as a Westernized society, filled with western pop culture.  Bands and artists like Iron Maiden and Michael Jackson.  But on the other side of the coin was the government’s fight for theocracy and a strict social order, trying to turn their people away from western ideals.  With her own parents at the forefront of the fight against the new government, Satrapi grew up in a home filled with freethinking, foreign literature, and civil unrest.  Her life at home and the ideals she had learned from her parents clashed with those she learned in her now gender-segregated school.  The introduction and mandate of traditions like the veiling of women and religious practices greatly affected Satrapi’s view on her religion, her country, and even herself.  

I do not want to spoil anything in the novel, because it is truly a short read.  Thus, I believe it is a book you should read for yourself.  I could tell you all day about the Revolution and what was going on, but Satrapi wrote Persepolis to bear witness to the events that took place.  She was there, and her account is a story essential to wrapping your head around what was happening in Iran at the time, and even now. Satrapi’s greatest achievement in writing Persepolis is changing our point of view.  In the west, and particularly nowadays, we tend to see media bashings of Muslims and people from the Middle East.  We have a grossly biased view of how people live, and Persepolis has challenged and disproved all of these prejudices.  It is such an important read, and an important point of view, in today’s world.  A truly well-thought piece from start to finish, and a high recommendation from me for your next literary endeavor.  

If you read Persepolis, let me know by commenting on this post and telling me what you think!  I’d love to know what you got from Satrapi’s story- I may have seen it too!

Much love,

Brainiac Blonde

How To Effectively Beautify Notes

Notes are always a huge topic of interest in the studying community.  We go on Pinterest and Tumblr and Instagram and see all these colorful, neat, goddess-like notes that people write, and we try to mimic that.  If you are anything like me, and you have tried to write notes like these… You know it doesn’t end well.

And maybe that’s for the best.

Now, I love looking at those ravishing pages as much as anyone else, but over time, I’ve realized that that is just not me.  I am a messy thinker.  I know I am actually learning when my papers are scattered, when there are arrows pointing every which way, and when there are side-thoughts next to almost every bullet point.  I write fast and furious, because that is how my brain works with my hand.  I used to think this was terrible, that because my notes weren’t color-coordinated and lined up all perfect, I was without.  And I made the mistake of trying to change my habits.

For two months, all of my notes were written in different colors and in pen.  Not only did it take forever (I was spending an extra hour on each subject), but I was not seeing any improvement in what really matters: my understanding.  Writing my vocab in pink and dates in purple did not help me remember them anymore than it had when I was writing in plain old pencil.  I was also getting frustrated with how many little mistakes I was making in pen that I couldn’t erase.  Overall, it was just a super stressful experience.

But it wasn’t all a loss.  I was paying more attention to what I was writing, being more concise, and making the whole page a lot neater and easier to read for later.  When I switched back to my pencil, I carried these habits with me. And so far, it has been beneficial to me.  My memory is quicker, I’m retaining more info… It’s pretty great.

Now, let’s get this clear: I am NOT trying to say that those goddess notes are not good notes!  Those are the notes we all aspire to, and I commend those who are able to make their thoughts look that beautiful and concise on paper.  However, not everyone can do that, and you shouldn’t bash yourself for that! Your notes are for you to learn, not showcase!  Write how you want to.  Also, don’t do what I did and drown your notes in color.  Write key words in color, or highlight them, but don’t write an entire page in neon green gel pen.  It really does not help, believe me…

But seriously, guys.  Try some new methods, get some new notebooks, and get started.  Do what makes sense to you, because these notes are for you. If you are a beautiful note-taker… Hats off to y’all, you’re my daily inspiration. Keep doing you!

And for those of you like me, you rock too.  Keep taking notes and learning and enjoying what you are writing down.  That’s what really makes a winning notebook!

See you!

Brainiac Blonde