Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Review of 'Persepolis 2' by Marjane Satrapi

Note: Thank you for your patience as I finish up the reviews for books I read last year.  I am almost through my list and you'll be seeing reviews for 2017 reads very shortly!

"In Persepolis, heralded by the Los Angeles Times as 'one of the freshest and most original memoirs of our day,' Marjane Satrapi dazzled us with her heartrending memoir-in-comic-strips about growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.  Here is the continuation of her fascinating stoy.  In 1984, Marjane flees fundamentalism and the war with Iraq to begin a new life in Vienna.  Once there, she faces the trials of adolescence far from her friends and family, and while she soon carves out a place for herself among a group of fellow outsiders, she continues to struggle for a sense of belonging.

Finding that she misses her home more than she can stand, Marjane returns to Iran after graduation.  Her difficult homecoming forces her to confront the changes both she and her country have undergone in her absence and her shame at what she perceives as her failure in Austria.  Marjane allows her past to weigh heavily on her until she find some like-minded friends, falls in love, and begins studying art at a university.  However, the repression and state-sanctioned chauvinism eventually lead her to question whether she can have a future in Iran.

As funny and poignant as its predecessor, Persepolis 2 is another clear-eyed and searing condemnation of the human cost of fundamentalism.  In its depiction of the struggles of growing up-- here compounded by Marjane's status as an outsider both abroad and at home-- it is raw, honest, and incredibly illuminating."

After I finished student teaching and graduated, I had some time before the New Year.  At the beginning of the school year, I picked up both Persepolis 1 and 2, thinking that my students would be reading both, but I was mistaken.  So I thought it would be a good time to read part 2 and see how Marjane was getting along.

This story picks up right where Persepolis left off.  Marjane steps off the plane in Vienna, Austria where she is to live and get an education in a much more free environment than her home in Iran, which has become incredibly stringent in terms of rules.  Here she spends her teen years... becoming a teenager and surviving everything that comes with it is difficult enough, but now put that teen virtually alone in this country she has never visited before with people she isn't terribly familiar with and with a language she doesn't speak.  I don't know about you, but that sounds like a situation that would make me cry.  I mean, I'm experiencing all of these physical changes, emotions I might never have felt before, and then I can't express myself in a language I'm proficient in with people I trust.  Wow.

What I like about this book is that Marjane continues her pattern of just gathering knowledge.  This time, she's surrounded by anarchists and people who come from different thought backgrounds, so she is reading all of these different works by these great thinkers on top of those she has already read... it's interesting to see her reconcile all of the knowledge she has been gaining for the purpose of making sense of the world she's in and that world she comes from.  That's what I find fascinating about being a teenager... you're stuck between what you know the rules are and then what other people say the rules are and you just have to... figure it out.

What was even more interesting to read about was when Marjane came home after finishing school.  She had to adjust to what like in Iran was like again.  Living in a different country and coming back to your home is such a strange experience... you don't even have to be away that long either to experience that kind of change, but she was away from home for about four years.

I loved this addition to what was started in Persepolis.  It made me think about Marjane as a person more complexly because she allowed me as a reader to know more about her and see how she changed and developed during this critical time in her life.  This is a great read for those who like coming of age stories and those who fell in love with Persepolis.

I give 'Persepolis 2':
Thanks for Reading!


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