This is the first graphic novel that I have read--and what an introduction! This book is at once poignant, moving and laugh-out-loud funny. Above all, it is intelligent. Told in two parts, this is the autobiography of a woman growing up in Iran in the 1980s: The Story of a Childhood and The Story of a Return.
The first section is narrated mainly by ten-year-old Satrapi, who is a witty, sharp and immensely endearing character. She is that questioning child found in every culture and every situation, asking the questions that adults don't dare to... or don't think of.
Though this book is highly political, it is so very real. More than anything else, this is the story of a woman becoming a woman. Satrapi shows us that humanity is humanity, no matter what the situation, that societies, and particularly children, share the same bonds and frailties across the globe.
At times I found the speech a little 'I'm saying this so that the reader will know where we've got up to in the plot', which did irritate me. However, this may be standard convention for graphic novels, given their layout and style.
Satrapi questions family, God, and identity openly, but with both precision and care, like folding together a delicate meringue. The result is glossy.