Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi


Goodreads: Persepolis 2
Series: Persepolis #2
Source: Library
Published: 2001


Marjane has gone to France, but she finds that not everyone there welcomes a girl from Iran.  Throughout her school years she starts to rebel, becoming involved with drugs and boys.  At last the pressure is too much and she returns home.  But living abroad has changed her and Marjane is no longer sure she has a future in Iran.


Marjane Satrapi recounts her adolescence with a sense of bittersweet recollection.  She describes many hardships as she tries to acclimate to a new culture and to find acceptance in a country where people equate her homeland with evil.  Even so, she manages to find some spots that are, if not bright, at least formative or maybe even transformative.  From her first glimpse at an undressed man to her experiences dealing drugs at school, Marjane holds little back, inviting readers to consider the incredible versatility of the young.

The content, it should be noted, is adult.  Satrapi recounts her experiences with men and her experiences being high with a degree of frankness some might find uncomfortable.  Likewise, she is not shy about announcing her beliefs that she ought to be able to do with her body whatever she wants.  Progressive women in Iran, she mourns, are often still not accepting of her decision to sleep around.  Perhaps because the restrictive laws laid down are so often bound up with sexuality–the women must wear longer head scarves, they must not run in case someone notices their rear, etc.–Satrapi often seems to equate sex before marriage as true freedom.

I must admit, however, that I found Satrapi’s other stands more moving.  When she defiantly asks how she is expected to learn to draw a man while looking in the opposite direction, or why wide trousers are forbidden since they cover everything, Satrapi is fiery and sharp.  One begins to wish that logic could be enough to effect change.  And one begins to see what Satrapi so earnestly seems to desire her readers to see–that even though the people of Iran might outwardly conform, in private they are often rebellious.  They are not brainwashed at all, but hoping for a better day.

Satrapi effortlessly entwines her own story of growing up with the story of her country, illustrating how her own awakening allows her to speak up for herself but also ultimately forces her to leave her home.  The price she has to pay for her personal freedom is not lost on her.  And she suggests that the price for collective freedom might ultimately be high.  Her own ending, however, subtly suggests she thinks the price is worth paying.

5 stars

5 thoughts on “Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return by Marjane Satrapi

  1. DoingDewey says:

    I didn’t love the first Persepolis book quite as much as I expected to based on the hype, but I definitely still want to pick this up. The continuation of Sartrapi’s story sounds fascinating and the honest you describe appeals to me.


    • Krysta says:

      I have to admit Persepolis is not my favorite graphic novel, but I understand how it became so popular. I’m sure it is, anyway, a very important book and one from a perspective not often heard from in publishing. I’ve probably enjoyed Victoria Jamieson’s Roller Girl and All’s Faire in Middle School more. But then, I’m not sure Persepolis is meant to be enjoyable, exactly, so I guess that’s a fair reaction on my part!


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