This was a bestseller and when I mentioned it to friends, they've all read it already, apparently I am the last. Maybe I didn't pick it up because it's a graphic novel and I haven't read those much? Well now I feel dumb for not reading it because it's incredible.
It's a memoir about a girl born in Iran in 1969 and coming of age during revolution to overthrow the Shah, and then the rise of the violent Islamic regime. She comes from an upper class family that values education, freedom, and women's rights. There are scenes where she's a normal preteen girl in the 80s who wants iron maiden posters and michael jackson patches, there are scenes where she's going to dangerous demonstrations, hiding from bombs in her war-torn city, or losing friends and family members to imprisonment, torture and death.
Education is a huge topic in the book. Most people aren't literate, education is risky and sparse, and that's really the reason given for why the people manage to overthrow one violent government only to have it replaced with another one. There's no inherent value in human life, kids are sent to war, political prisoners are held for years and then killed. There's so much wasted potential. It's so sad, and makes you really appreciate what you have, and makes you realize how many people might be stuck in these countries who could really make a difference if they could just get out.
The ALA states this book is frequently challenged because it contains "gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint, graphic depictions"
It does have graphic depictions. Some of the images of the dead and tortured are haunting, even though the graphics are simple, they're so striking and sad.
I did not notice any offensive language. The political viewpoint complaint seems to be around the fact that a lot of the girls family members are communists, and there are those who says that communists taking over wouldn't have been any more just than the Islamic regime, but the politics aren't deep in this book, it's the girl telling her story and seeing obvious injustice in the violence around her.
Definitely a must-read for everyone, and I would support teens reading it, I think they'll relate. If we're afraid teenagers can't handle the graphic depictions of violence in cartoon formats, maybe we should do more about all the teenagers living with actual violence in war-torn, unstable regions of the world.