Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return
by Marjane Satrapi
in their shoes challenge
This was my first graphic novel, and I am very impressed. This memoir of a young girl's life before, during, and after the Iranian revolution was very powerful. Part of the reason is that I am about the same age as Marjane, and I can remember the eighties, and the American view of what was going on. The war now in Iraq is even more relevant when you can see what happened twenty years ago to set it up. I had a student join my class in September from Iran and it is enlightening to read what his parents would have grown up in. One of the reasons his family left was so that he would not have to join the army, as all young boys must.
The first volume is from 1979, just before the revolution, until 1984, when Marjane left Iran. If more people read books, and could read what happens inside a country during a war, I'm sure there would be less of it. It is so easy to get an image of a country and its people from the news, but that shows us so little of what is going on. Satrapi's family is not represented in my past view of Iran, and I am so glad to have read this, and realize that many people in the country did not support the revolution, and also to get an appreciation for the history of Persia.
This teenager was wanting to fit in with her sneakers and punk music, wanting to be political and protest, and yet, wanting to survive as well. Her family was rebellious and cautious at the same time, eventually deciding to send their daughter away, for her survival and education.
Book 2, The Return, chronicles Marji's years in Vienna, trying to fit in as an Iranian in Europe, and then her return, an Iranian who has been away. She can't win. Her struggle to know herself resonated with me, and most women, as we balance our roles within society's expectations. Add living in a a Fundamentalist regime, having the length of your head scarf measured, and being taken in front of a Commission, on top of general life, and this story elevates to a different kind of struggle. But she is still trying to be feminine, meet boys, get educated and figure out who she is, mistakes and all.
Marji so impressed me, as she spoke the truth, except for a few cases with men! and stood up for her beliefs. She is a wonderful example of a strong woman. This memoir will stay with me for quite a while, and has opened my eyes to the possibilities of a graphic novel. I heard it is being made into a movie. There are two levels of this book - the woman and the country, and both are equally interesting.
Much like The Kite Runner showed a different side of Afghanistan, letting westerners see what the people were like - just like us, Perspolis has changed my view of Iran forever.