Persepolis (paperback)

by Marjane Satrapi

AR Level 3.3, 2 points


I first saw Persepolis on my sister’s bookshelf.  It is her very favorite book in the world.  There is a part 2 to this story, and she has the compilation of the 2 books.  I only read the first part, called The Story of Childhood.  She insists that I read part 2, so I’m sure I will eventually get to it.  This is one of my new favorite genres.  It is a comic book based on the author’s life.  It seems that most comic books (aka graphic novels) I have read have been based on experiences of their authors.  I would align this more with Maus that with Drama, though, due to the content of the book and words I wouldn’t want my elementary school child to know.

Marji is a girl growing up during the late 70’s and early 80’s in Iran during the revolution.  She sees the change from a more modern society that accepted Western influence to one that was religious with rigid rules and expectations of women.  Marji’s parents are also modern and don’t like the change in their country.  Their friends and relatives are being jailed and executed, but they do not want Marji to feel that she has to conform.  They take her to protest and fight for rights.  As the war progresses, they realize it is not safe for her to live in Iran, so they have to make some tough decisions on her behalf.

What I liked about this book is that it is historical fiction (although autobiographical), and it is history that I have next to no knowledge of.  I appreciate the way the author explains things as she goes, either through description, subtitles in the comic strips, or through dialogue.  She even adds an asterisk or two to make sure I understand what is going on.  I enjoy learning, and I appreciate that she anticipated her readers not being informed about the subject.

What I didn’t like about this book is that I can’t share it with my students.  Since they are so interested in graphic novels, I thought it would be a great one I could share with them after reading.  I’m so glad I read it first, though, because there is discussion of rape and virgins, and the word “shit” is used several times.  It isn’t a vulgar or inappropriate story, but it isn’t age-appropriate for my sixth graders.  I, however, enjoyed the story myself.

Book 33 of 40 (year 2)




Room (paperback)

by Emma Donoghue

No AR Level because it’s not recommended for kids!

This is the story of Ma, as told from the point of view of Jack, a five year old boy.  Ma was kidnapped at 19 by a man called Old Nick and kept in a room (an 11×11 renovated garden shed) for 7 years of her life.  During this time, she had Jack and taught him that the Room was all there was, and everything on tv was just make believe.  Out of desperation, she plots to have Jack escape, and their lives change forever.  Despite the depressing tone of the story (how can being locked in a shed for 7 years and suffer from repeated assault not be depressing), it is actually not a downer book.  Since the story is told from Jack’s perspective, we see their lives in a blanket of innocence and not what it really is.

What I liked about this book was that despite how hard things were for Ma and Jack, Ma kept Jack protected and sheltered from the truth of their lives.  The theme of hope resonated throughout the story, even while Jack was counting the squeaks of the bed when Old Nick “visited”, because it is told by Jack.  He does not have the experience nor the knowledge to see their lives through a filter of despair and depression.  It also gives me an idea of what women kept in slavery suffer.  I cannot even imagine what it would be like to actually experience it.

What I didn’t like about this book was that it took me forever to read.  It annoyed me that there were paragraphs that rambled on in nearly unintelligible language (since Jack told the story and little kids don’t always get their words right).  There are also things in the story that I just don’t want to think actually occur on this planet.  It’s just too real.  Also, I swore it took place in England.  Some of the words and phrasing just aren’t used in America.  That annoys me.  I learned the story takes place in America, but the author is Irish.  That explains it.

Book 16 of 40 (year 2)