Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return

Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return - Marjane Satrapi, Anjali Singh Strangely, perhaps, I think I enjoyed this more than the first. This second volume picks up where the first left off: Marjane is going to be leaving Iran and going to Vienna to study, without her parents. This book follows her from age 14 through her early 20s, and covers a lot of ground. From being on her own, essentially, to trying to make friends and her place in the world (and to find herself), from bad/not so great choices to a fresh start, and a lot more. Basically, this one deals less with the Revolution, and more with Marjane herself. In this book, she goes from the child being shaped by her parents and her surroundings to a young woman taking what she already knows and believes in, then adding to it from the things she learns on her own.

I read this one a bit faster than the first, possibly because it was a little easier for me to relate to Marjane and the things she experienced that are more common to people everywhere, because I remember more clearly what it was like to be a teenager and what my early 20s were like. Obviously my experience in the US was very different from her life in general, but there were a few things I did relate to. It was also moving toward events that I don't remember happening (because I was alive, but a toddler), but do remember reading about later.

If her parents were really the way they were depicted in these two books, wow. I loved reading about both of them and the way they brought her up to be her own person, to stand up for what she believed in, to learn, to grow, and to make her own choices (good or bad). One example, as a parent, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to watch your child commit to someone when you know it most likely will not work out, but also knowing that the only way your child can discover that is by marrying that person. Her family was just so supportive of her, and it was beautiful.

This is the kind of story we need to see more of, in the West, because so many people have this idea of what people from any Middle Eastern country are like, and it's usually not very true to life. (I'm basing that entirely on what I've seen/heard from people making blanket judgments about people from the Middle East, versus what real people from those countries share.) I stand by what I said in my review for the first book: these need to be taught in school alongside Anne Frank's diary.

I loved both of these books, and I'm pretty sure I will be buying copies at some point in the somewhat near future.