Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood and Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return are a series of graphic novels by Marjane Satrapi. Satrapi does an excellent job capturing her life growing up in Iran in these pages.
In Persepolis, Satrapi shows the reader what it was like growing up in a war with regimes that over time grew increasingly radical and dictatorial about morality and strict dress codes, especially for women. Her parents were more liberal and allowed her many freedoms, but in public she needed to conform or face the wrath of the regime. The story ends with Satrapi leaving her family behind for Austria at the age of fourteen.
Satrapi illustrates in Persepolis 2 how difficult it was to conform to a new life outside of Iran and shows her growing up on her own. As with many typical teenagers, she makes many wrong choices in her life, but ultimately returns to Iran and completes her schooling, getting married along the way.
Satrapi’s illustrations are beautiful and her depictions of life are clear. The language in the novels, to me, sometimes seems to be more simple than necessary, but to reach a young audience, I would guess the language is appropriate. Her willfulness is entertaining and even sometimes frightening.
She does not hold anything back, even when her experiences might be construed as cruel. For instance, Satrapi falsely accuses an innocent man of saying derogatory things to her when she is afraid the regime will see her first with her make-up on. The man is taken away by the regime and more than likely will be tortured. Throughout both books, she does not hesitate to give her opinions about the regime, war, and how these things have affected her.
These books give the western reader insight into a potential previously unknown world of oppression that should urge them to learn more about this society, its background, and what a little civility, tolerance, forgiveness, and understanding could do to make this world a better place for everyone.
I would recommend these books to anyone interested in history, war, or even, more simply, the growing pains of life.