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Originally published to wide critical acclaim in France, where it elicited comparisons to Art Spiegelman's Maus, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and ...
Originally published to wide critical acclaim in France, where it elicited comparisons to Art Spiegelman's Maus, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.
Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran: of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life and of the enormous toll repressive regimes exact on the individual spirit. Marjane's child's-eye-view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family. Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a stunning reminder of the human cost of war and political repression. It shows how we carry on, through laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity. And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.
About the Author
Marjane Satrapi was born in 1969 in Rasht, Iran. She grew up in Tehran, where she studied at the Lycée Français before leaving for Vienna and then going to Strasbourg to study illustration. She currently lives in Paris, where she is at work on the sequel to Persepolis and where her illustrations appear regularly in newspapers and magazines. She is also the author of several children's books.
"Odds are, you’ll be too busy being entertained to realize how much you’ve learned until you turn the last page.”–Elle.com
“[A] self-portrait of the artist as a young girl, rendered in graceful black-and-white comics that apply a childlike sensibility to the bleak lowlights of recent Iranian history. . . . [Her] style is powerful; it persuasively communicates confusion and horror through the eyes of a precocious preteen.” –Village Voice
" This is an excellent comic book, that deserves a place with Joe Sacco and even Art Spiegelman. In her bold black and white panels, Satrapi eloquently reasserts the moral bankruptcy of all political dogma and religious conformity; how it bullies, how it murders, and how it may always be ridiculed by individual rebellions of the spirit and the intellect." —Zadie Smith, author of The Autograph Man and White Teeth
"You've never seen anything like Persepolis—the intimacy of a memoir, the irresistability of a comic book, and the political depth of a the conflict between fundamentalism and democracy. Marjane Satrapi may have given us a new genre."
I grew up reading the Mexican comics of Gabriel Vargas, graduated to the political teachings of Rius, fell under the spell of Linda Barry, Art Spiegelman, and now I am a fan of Marjane Satrapi. Her stories thrummed in my heart for days. Persepolis is part history book, part Scheherazade, astonishing as only true stories can be. I learned much about the history of Iran, but more importantly, it gave me hope for humanity in these unkind times.
—Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street and Caramelo
I thought [Persepolis] was a superb piece of work, not only for the child's eye view—the developing child's eye view—of a society unknown to many of us in the west, and feared and suspected in proportion to being unknown.... Satrap has found a way of depicting human beings that is both simple and immediately comprehensible, AND is almost infinitely flexible. Anyone who's tried to draw a simplified version of a human face knows how immensely difficult it is not only to give the faces a range of expression, but also to maintain identities from one frame to the next. It's an enormous technical accomplishment."
—Philip Pullman, author ofThe Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass.
"I cannot praise enough Marjane Satrapi's moving account of growing up as a spirited young girl in revolutionary and war-time Iran. Persepolis is disarming and often humorous but ultimately it is shattering."
— Joe Sacco, author of Palestine and Safe Area Gorazde
This witty, moving and illuminating book demonstrates graphically why the future of Iran lies with neither the clerics nor the American Empire.
—Tariq Ali Author of The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihads and Modernity
"I found the work immensely moving with depths of nuance and wisdom that one might never expect to find in a comic book. It’s a powerful, mysterious, enchanting story that manages to reflect a great swath of Iranian contemporary history within the sensitive, intimate tale of a young girl’s coming-of-age. I didn’t want it to end!"
—Diana Abu-Jaber, Author of Crescent and Arabian Jazz
"A rare and chilling memoir that offers every reader a personal, honest portrait of Iran's recent political and cultural history. Ms. Satrapi's provocative, graphic narrative of life in Iran before and after the Islamic revolution is an extraordinary testament to the level of human suffering experienced by Iranians tossed from one political hypocrisy to another. Aside from the humanistic dimension, the beautifully minimalist Persepolis gives further evidence of Marjane Satrapi's sensitivity and superb skill as an artist."
—Shirin Neshat, visual artist/filmmaker
"Readers who have always wanted to look beyond political headlines and CNN's cliches should plunge into this unique illustrated story. Let Marji be your trusted companion, follow her into the warmth of a Persian home and out along Tehran's turbulent streets during those heady days of revolution. Persepolis opens a rare door to understanding of events that still haunt America, while shining a bright light on the personal humanity and humor so much alive in Iranian families today."
— Terence Ward, author of Searching for Hassan
Blending the historical with the personal is not an easy task, to blend the individual with the universal is even more challenging. But Marjane Satrapi has succeeded brilliantly. This graphic novel is a reminder of the human spirit that fights oppression and death, it is a witness to something true and lasting which is more affective than hundreds of news broadcasts.
—Hanan al-Shaykh, author of Women of Sand and Myrhh
1. The New York Times hails Persepolis as "the latest and one of the most delectable examples of a booming postmodern genre: autobiography by comic book." Why do you think this genre is so popular? Why did Satrapi chose this format in which totell her story? What does the visual aspect add that a conventional memoir lacks? Have you read other graphic memoirs, such as Maus by Art Spiegelman or Joe Sacco's Palestine? How is Persepolis different and/or similar to those? How does Persepolis compare to other comic books? Would you call this a comic book, or does it transcend this and other categories? Where would you place this book in a bookstore? With memoirs, comic books, current events?
2. Written as a memoir, is Persepolis more powerful than if Satrapi had fictionalized the story? Why or why not? Compare this book to other memoirs you have read. What are the benefits and drawbacks of memoirs?
3. In an Associated Press interview, Satrapi said, "The only thing I hope is that people will read my book and see that this abstract thing, this Axis of Evil, is made up of individuals with lives and hopes." And in her introduction to Persepolis, she explains that she wrote this book to show that Iran is not only a country of "fundamentalism, fanaticism, and terrorism." How does Satrapi go about challenging this myth? How does Persepolis dispel or confirm your views on Iran? In what ways does reading this book deepen your understanding and knowledge of Iran, and the current situation in Iraq?
4. How is Persepolis organized and structured? What has Satrapi chosen to emphasize in her childhood? How is the passage of time presented? Describe Satrapi's drawings. How do the drawings add to the narrative of the story?
5. Describe the writer's voice. Is it appealing? Which aspects of Marji's character do you identify with or like the most, the least? Did your reaction to the little girl affect your reading experience?
6. How did the revolution exert power and influence over so many people, including many educated and middle class people like Satrapi's parents? Why did so many people leave after the revolution? Why do you think Marji's parents send her off to Austria while they stay in Tehran? Why don't they leave/escape as well?
7. "Every situation has an opportunity for laughs." (p. 97) Give some examples of how the ordinary citizens of Iran enjoyed life despite the oppressive regime. What made you laugh? How does Satrapi add comic relief? How are these scenes relevant to the story as a whole?
8. What kinds of captivity and freedom does the author explore in Persepolis? What stifles or prevents people from being completely free? How do they circumvent and defy the rules imposed on them and attempt to live ordinary lives despite revolution and war? Give some examples of their small acts of rebellion.
9. "In spite of everything, kids were trying to look hip, even under risk of arrest." (p. 112) How did they do this? What do you think you would have done had you been a child in this environment? What acts of rebellion did you do as a teen? In way ways is Satrapi just a normal kid?
10. What does Satrapi say regarding disparity between the classes before and after the Iranian Revolution? Discuss some examples that Marji witnesses and contemplates.
11. At the core of the book is Marji's family. What is this family like? What is important to Marji's parents? What environment do they create for their daughter despite living under an oppressive regime and through a brutal, prolonged war? From where do they get their strength?
12. What is the role of women in the story? Compare and contrast the various women: Marji, her mother, her grandmother, her school teachers, the maid, the neighbors, the guardians of the revolution.
13. Discuss the role and importance of religion in Persepolis. How does religion define certain characters in the book, and affect the way they interact with each other? Is the author making a social commentary on religion, and in particular on fundamentalism? What do you think Satrapi is saying about religion's effect on the individual and society?
14. In what ways is Persepolis both telling a story and commenting on the importance of stories in our lives? What does the book suggest about how stories shape and give meaning to our experience? Discuss some of the stories in Persepolis—Uncle Anoosh's story, her grandfather's story, Niloufar's story.
15. What is Satrapi suggesting about the relationship between past and present, and between national and personal history? What role does her family history, and the stories of her relatives, play in shaping Marji?
Posted December 5, 2010
I thought the book Persepolis was a pretty good book. Some of the things learned reading this book, is when the bombing sirens would go off the unusual places they would hide. For example, some of the places they hid were in their basements or they would just lay on the ground and cover their heads. For school all the girls were required to wear a veil and a long black robe. The people were not allowed to show any of their hair and had to get rid of their facial hair. I was surprised at their rules, they couldn't have board games and were not allowed to have curtains on their windows. Also they were not allowed to listen to music or have posters. I sure would not like those rules and neither did they.
One thing that was confusing to me was when the chapters would end and a new one would begin, the subject would change to something completely different. It was hard to follow the book sometimes. My favorite part of the book was the ending. When the daughter is at the airport and she is leaving her family she turns around to say one last goodbye and her mom has fainted. She says to herself " I should have just kept walking", she said this because this made her sad that her family will miss her and she will miss them.
I would recommend this book because it is a book that keeps you interested. It was a very unpredictable book too and there were some twists and turns that makes you want to keep reading. I am looking forward to reading the second book.
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Posted June 14, 2010
In Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi uses the graphic novel format to share her life story with readers. Satrapi grew up in Iran during the years that the Shah lost power and the Fundamentalist Muslims became the government authority.
Satrapi was raised in a modern family that valued education and modern life. Her parents were part of the revolution that forced the Shah from power. They were shocked, however, when the ultra-religous government that took over soon made the freedoms they were used to and expected illegal. No longer could women dress as they pleased; they were instead forced to wear the veil. No longer could the Iranian people travel freely; the borders were closed for over three years, and even when reopened, passports were almost impossible to obtain. No longer could one count on an education; the universities were closed for over two years.
Darker items were to follow. There were 3000 political prisoners under the Shah, but there were 300,000 political prisoners under the new regime. Satrapi's family had both relatives and friends that were imprisoned, tortured and some were even executed. Then the government got involved in a war with Iraqi. Bombings were common, and over a million people were killed.
Satrapi's use of the graphic format is a perfect match to the story of a young girl whose life changes so dramatically and who tries to make sense of the things happening around her with a child's understanding. Satrapi ended up being educated outside of Iran in her teen years and later, and chose a graphic artist's career. This book was a perfect match for her talent, and her memoir is chilling. To see freedoms taken away gradually is difficult, and when one looks up and sees where the normality markers have moved to, it is eye-opening. This book is recommended to all readers who care about world events, and those who enjoy memoirs.
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Posted August 5, 2010
Persepolis has been around for awhile, so as a teacher I thought I would make a plug for using it in the classroom. Since Persepolis is a graphic text, it encourages multiples literacies (different types of reading and thinking) and inferential thinking by requiring students to read images as well as text. In a world that is so dominated with images, teaching kids how to read images is growing increasingly important.
Furthermore, given the tensions in the Middle East right now, Satrapi does a beautiful job on humanizing the Iranian people that most Westerners simply know from 20-sec. newsclips. It also offers historical, yet anecdotal, information on the Iran-Iraq War, politics in the Middle East, gender roles and women's rights. And to top it all off, Satrapi is funny!!! This book is just too full of teachable moments to pass up in the classroom.
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Posted October 22, 2008
Persepolis, as the cover reads, is the story of a childhood. A childhood filled with protests, war, and revolutionaries, but told through a young adult¿s eyes and thoughts. Through words and illustrations Marjane Satrapi tells of her experiences as a teen in Iran during the Islamic revolution. The reader watches as Marjane struggles to find her identity as a young woman in a world of turmoil while at the same time trying to figure our the people she loves and those that are intent on making their lives miserable. The readers feels involved in the story as if they were beside Marjane as she questions her faith, her government, and yes, even her father. <BR/><BR/>While Marjane is in the midst of a relentless revolution, the reader gets the chance to see all of this through a young adult¿s experiences. She is still a normal teenager. While she is busy going to protests and hating having to wear a veil, she is also buying Michael Jackson buttons and posters of American rock stars are hanging in her bedroom. While it does not make the revolution any less severe it is nice to see it from her perspective. Young adults may not be able to identify with what she is going through, but they can probably identify with the way she thinks about the events and handles certain situations. <BR/><BR/>What Marjane does not write she shows through the illustrations of the graphic novel. In certain frames the pictures tell so much more than the words. They tell the information the author could not put into words, such as revolutionaries being tortured and the remains of her friend¿s house that was demolished during an attack. For this reason and the concepts presented by Marjane, such as communism and religion, along with some strong language this book is more suited to older readers, probably high school age. Even with these age groups there will still be many concepts they will need explained and discussed. <BR/><BR/>Overall a beautifully written and illustrated book that will open the eyes of young adults and adults alike to the events Marjane and her friends and family witnessed and lived through.
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Posted December 6, 2014
Persepolis is the true story of Marjane Satrapi’s experience as a child growing up in Iran during the Islamic revolution. The book begins in 1980 when the ten year old Marji (as she was called by family and friends) first begins to grapple with very sophisticated and complicated subjects such as religion, war, and eventually patriotism. Marji comes from an educated, upper-middle class, and modern thinking family whom she constantly pries for the answers to her complex, layered questions about right and wrong. Often, in true child-like fashion, she interprets situations in a naïve and unknowing fashion before truly understanding the depth of their realities. For example, when family friends who were political prisoners shared their stories of having been tortured, she makes up a game with her friends in which the losers are tortured. She excitedly devises creative methods of inflicting pain and delights in the power she feels in the position of a torturer. It is not long before the reality of torture sinks in and she is overwhelmed with guilt for her actions and nonchalance regarding such a serious matter. Marji comes to know the harsh realities of the world around her through the experiences of family members and friends. Upon the discovery that her great-grandfather was the last emperor of Persia, who was deposed of and replaced by the Shah, and that her grandfather was briefly the prime minister before being jailed as a Communist, Marji evolves from a curious, confused, and instinctively religious child to an outspoken and patriotic young woman. Identifying with the beliefs of her parents, she becomes passionate about the revolution, speaking out against the Shah in school, attending protests, and embracing modern culture.
Unfortunately, once the Shah is overthrown and the new Islamic regime take control, things go from bad to worse. Anyone who supported the revolution became enemies of the new government, and many faced prison, torture, and death. Marji and her family realize that the new regime is no better than the Shah’s. Many of their friends and relatives are forced to flee the country or are executed by Islamists. By the time Marji is 14 years old, things have gotten so dangerous in Iran that her parents make the painful decision to send her to Austria to continue her education in safety.
Although this book is the story of one woman’s childhood and coming of age in a tumultuous environment, it is much more than that. Persepolis is a legacy of a people, providing a wealth of insight into their rich history and deep cultural roots. In reading the book, my eyes were opened to a world that I had very little previous knowledge of. I gained understanding of the phases of Iran’s history: life prior to the Shah’s reign, life during the revolution in wartime, and how all the complexities of each overlap each other. The struggle of the people to maintain their normal lives, hold onto their loved ones, cope with the unjust loss of their loved ones, and stay true to their political beliefs are well depicted, and through that depiction I recognized the courage and strength of the Iranian people. This book gives a face and a voice to the Iranians, who are often misunderstood and stereotyped in the West.
It is ironic that the book is illustrated in black and white when the emotions of the people and the solutions to Iran’s problems are far from that. This seems to be one of the major goals of the book, to let the world know that—it’s complicated. Satrapi has illuminated us all by presenting the history of her country accurately and from the people’s perspective.
I would recommend this book to everyone and believe it is a vital read for every American, given the many misconceptions of the Middle East caused by terrorism and perpetuated by unsympathetic media. Persepolis has the power to effortlessly open minds and soften hearts. It paints a new much, more intimate picture of a culture that is so foreign to so many of us.
Persepolis has something to engage everybody. It provides accurate accounts of important world history, and touches on civil rights, gender inequality, the struggle for identity, the abandonment of faith, and class difference. It is incredibly humorous at times and certainly has moments in which you will have to wipe tears from your eyes. Even teenagers are engaged by its simple and straightforward writing coupled with its strong comic-style graphic art. The beauty of Persepolis is that, no matter what draws you to the book, what you will actually gain from reading it will surpass all of your expectations and make you a better human being.
Posted August 25, 2014
Posted June 11, 2014
Persepolis is an autobiographical graphic novel set during the author's childhood in Iran, with the Islamic Revolution and the war between Iran and Iraq as the book's central events.
Before reading this memoir, I knew little about Iran beyond what I've heard on the news over the years. What a shame! This is an ancient, rich culture with a complicated history, with people vastly different than their government.
The book has a powerful beginning. Satrapi remembers the way things were before the revolution: secular schools, parties, pop music, regular clothing. She brings us into her world as the people of Iran experience quick, drastic changes in law and culture. She especially shows how confusing and difficult it was for children to make sense of the chaos. Remember how you felt as a teenager when you recognized injustice? How acute your anger at the world could be? Satrapi had me feeling that outrage again.
Like the story it supports, Satrapi's monochromatic artwork is striking. There is a particularly horrifying moment toward the end of the book that perfectly demonstrates how profound simple illustrations can be where words fail.
Persepolis reminds us that, even in cultures so unfamiliar, even in the midst of war, people and families all over the world experience similar triumphs and frustrations. Although Satrapi's specific circumstances were completely foreign to me, I had far more "wow, her family is so much like mine!" moments than anything else.
This was such an outstanding read. Highly recommend.
Posted May 26, 2014
Comic strip memoir of a girl-child in Iran who lives through the Islamic revolution
of the 1970's and 80's, it's not to be missed. Heartbreaking, insightful, and in
places, hilarious - father & mother smuggling contraband posters in from
Turkey (Kim Wilde and Iron Maiden, lol). The challenges and defiance of both
mother and daughter to become accustomed to the newly mandatory head
While the USA is touched upon - the taking of the US embassy, the CIA
assassination in the 1950's of Iran's elected prime minister - it's really about
Iran itself, the culture shock and its war with Iraq. The text and drawings work
together to deliver a powerful emotional punch, but with self-deprecating
humor that gets the reader through the horrifying parts.
Posted February 27, 2014
This book is basically about Marjane Satrapi's life during the Iran evolution, and her unforgetable childhood, that changed her life. The evoultion took place in 1979 and she watched the entire thing take place. But the entire experance taught her to forgive people that have wronged her. The major themes of the memoir is that she wanted to share her story and educate people about it. But most of all is to teach people to forgive. I liked that it was a memoir that was writen as a comic, and some dislikes is that it a chapter would end and a new one would begin, the subject would change to something completely different. It was hard to follow the book sometimes. I would recomend this book, but if you dont like comics or death you should not read this book. Over all i would rate it a 3.5 if i could because it was a special story it just wasnt told in the best way that it could of been told.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 28, 2013
Posted July 9, 2013
Young Marjane is a lovable child in an Iranian family with more Western ideals than the Islamic fundamentalists running the country. The graphic memoir is poignant and darkly comedic. It covers the time of the war with Irag and the Islamic Revolution, which needless be said, is a difficult subject to bring levity to, and yet Marjane Satrapi does just that.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 12, 2013
Posted January 18, 2013
Super easy read! It's great to be able to get into the author's head. she tells the story through pictures & very little words.
Read in high school & still think great things about this booK!
Posted May 9, 2012
Marjane wrote this in 2005! please read,.....
The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian. We don’t know each other, but we talk together and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you. And our governments are very much the same.
Posted August 8, 2009
I enjoyed reading this book and carefully investigating the graphics. I learned about the book because it is the book that my alma mater chose as the book for the first year students to read. I then decided to teach a mini-course for incoming international students at my own university using Persepolis as the text. Since the book has many interconnected themes, our overarching discussion concerns revolutions, but I asked the students to think about the role economics, religion, and class played in the acceptance/success of the Iranian or Islamic Revolution. The other critically important point to note is that the book is told in an innovate fashion, from the perspective of a child. With such a big world with such complex problems, we almost never think about how children view the changes occuring around them.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 18, 2009
This graphic novel is an extremely important one not only for graphic novel lovers and collectors who appreciate them for their artwork and narrative, but also for the racial, ethnical, historical, and political implications this volume holds. Rarely, does a work of art hold such human and such political ramifications. In conjunction, be aware that you are purchasing only the first half of the story. So, if you want the whole thing, which are you going to want, you should consider purchasing the copy that includes volume one and two. Again, you will not be disappointed.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 29, 2008
Graphic biographies deliver a new depth to the genre. Sometimes a picture is worth 10,000 words. A wonderful story of the loss of childhood, home and family. Can't wait to read the next volume.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 3, 2008
I Also Recommend:
I had to read this book for a college course, along with "Kite Runner". Persepolis is an interesting book with originality in its writing style. It is like a political comic book, with nothing funny about it. The black and white ink is a symbol of how things are in her life. Black or white, good or bad. I enjoyed this book very much, and I am looking forward to reading part 2.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 3, 2008
In her book Persepolis, Marjan Satrapi, a native born to Iran in 1969, gives the readers a first hand glance at what it is like to grown up in a politically charged environment. Through black and white graphic illustrations and comedic yet serious narration, Satrapi reveals what it was like to grow up in Tehran from the ages of 6 to 14 (during the late 1970¿s). Her memoirs demonstrate the internal conflicts of a child who lives among the controversy during the overthrow of the Shah¿s regime, the success of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastation caused by the war with Iraq. <BR/> Her tale not only reveals her personal experiences, but also validates the stories of other people in her home and public life who faced the conflicts between fundamentalism and democracy. This story is one of heroes and villains, and one of torture and comedy that will give readers a better understanding of the complexities of the past and present Iranian Conflicts.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 9, 2008
As a personal experience Persepolis really opened my eyes to the prejudice in other countries. Although it is not your typical memoir with only your imagination to lead you through the writer¿s experiences, with Persepolis you can really get into the book because Marji leads you through extremely important events in her life leading up to who she is today she had to fight through many negative influences and people in her life. Persepolis may be a comic book but for that very reason is why it is an honorable book and she put you into the story so know exactly how she felt or what she saw. Persepolis is a shockingly tremendous page-turner. Like a lot of other books what would the book be with out a movie? Although I have not seen the movie I would love to watch it so I can compare my previous notes from the book. Concluding how intrigued I was with the book I feel that although the movie is a cartoon and in black and white I feel that it would definitely bring me to the verge of tears.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.