Last week I reviewed the first graphic novel in this series, Persepolis. Today I bring you the second and final book in the series (if you’re reading the English editions), detailing main character and narrator Marjane’s return to her home in Iran shortly after the armistice that supposedly ended the Islamic Revolution.
Marjane Satrapi has finally decided to go home after a stint in Vienna she considers a failure. Peeled off the streets unconscious and one cigarette away from death, Marjane heads home with her head hung low and her tail between her legs, vowing never to tell her family what transpired while she was living thousands of miles away from home. But no matter how quiet Marjane keeps her secrets, she can still hear them, and they are screaming for release. Spiraling into a pit of utter despair, one event inspires Marjane to turn her life around.
And what a life she manages to craft. Soon she’s been accepted to a good school, has a loving boyfriend, and lives what she feels a successful life. But in a regime where you have to throw others under the bus or risk imprisonment and torture for showing your hair, can Marjane ever really be happy?
I really liked Persepolis, and I think it was the better novel overall, but I thoroughly enjoyed Persepolis 2 as well. It dealt less with the angst of a teenager finding her way in a messed up world and more with the fight for basic women’s rights in Iran and beyond. After spending several years in Austria falling into addiction and unhappiness, Marjane decides to go back home, hoping being near her parents will fix everything. It doesn’t.
Persepolis 2 follows Marjane through a more sophisticated form of growing up, from passing the entrance exams to enroll in an art university to marrying for convenience rather than love, and brings forth many notes that just about any reader can empathize with. The book also details some of the problems we in America haven’t necessarily experienced firsthand, like how to eek a little bit more freedom out of your veil and what to do when you’re caught wearing makeup against the law. That was one of the things I enjoyed so much in Persepolis, so it was great to have a second book describing some experiences in the same genre (for lack of a better word). I didn’t actually know there was a second book until the last page of Persepolis, so I had expected to have that be the end. It wasn’t.
All in all, both Persepolis and Persepolis 2 were fantastic books, and definitely worth the time of pretty much any person you can recommend them to. Marjane Satrapi does a fantastic job of offering an earnest window into a culture very different from mine, which is really kind of the point of books.
Let’s hope it continues to be,