Thursday, August 10, 2017

Review: The Authentics - Abdi Nazemian

The Authentics
Abdi Nazemian
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
The Authentics is a fresh, funny, and insightful novel about culture, love, and family—the kind we are born into and the ones we create.

Daria Esfandyar is Iranian-American and proud of her heritage, unlike some of the “Nose Jobs” in the clique led by her former best friend, Heidi Javadi. Daria and her friends call themselves the Authentics, because they pride themselves on always keeping it real.

But in the course of researching a school project, Daria learns something shocking about her past, which launches her on a journey of self-discovery. It seems everyone is keeping secrets. And it’s getting harder to know who she even is any longer.

With infighting among the Authentics, her mother planning an over-the-top sweet sixteen party, and a romance that should be totally off limits, Daria doesn’t have time for this identity crisis. As everything in her life is spinning out of control—can she figure out how to stay true to herself?

Daria and her friends always believed they were being authentic, being true to themselves. However, after experiencing an existential crisis, Daria begins to question what it means to be authentic. While trying to work through this situation, she learns a lot about herself, her friends, and her family.

This story had me hook, line, and sinker from the very beginning. I loved all four of the Authentics immediately, and was thinking how lucky Daria was to have such an awesome group of friends. The title of this book makes you think it is their story, however, this is Daria's story, and I felt fortunate to join Daria on her journey of self-discovery.

I have been lucky enough to read quite a few #OwnVoices books lately, which deal with self-discovery and self-identity. I have also been lucky enough to have enjoyed them all immensely, and am happy to add The Authentics to this list.

Nazemian gave me so many beautiful relationships to be jealous of in this book. Daria's closest friends -- Joy, Caroline, and Kurt -- are each very special in their own way. They had very different strengths and weaknesses, complementing each other quite well. They were steadfast and dedicated friends, but they were not perfect. We find out that some of them may be hiding a thing or two, but these small transgressions never nullify those super strong bonds of friendship the four of them share. The way each will put the other first is lovely, and I could only wish to have friends like them. Daria's family had a lot of things they needed to work through, but you would never question their love for each other. They didn't always make the best decisions, but they made those decisions with the best intentions. I never had a nanny, but I could only wish I could be lucky enough to have a Lala in my life. This woman exuded love through even pore of her body. She was just the epitome of a caregiver, and I loved every second I got to spend with her.

Speaking of family, I love that Nazemian shows that a family is a family even if it is not the traditional family. I equate family with love, and it seems Nazemian agrees with this. Daria's family changed and grew from the beginning of the book to the end of the book, just as Daria herself grew and changed, and all these changes were positive in my opinion.

It was interesting to be a witness to all the changes that both Daria and her family experienced. Daria definitely came of age during this tale. One of the things that hit me hardest, was when her mother broke down those walls of protection, and revealed her vulnerability, shared her pain. This changed the way Daria perceived her mother and actually made her more human.

I found the commentary about Iran quite interesting. I was in single digits during the Iranian Revolution, so I only remember bits and pieces. The insights Nazemian shared prompted me to find out more, and I think it's great when a book elicits that sort of response from me. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to learn more about Nazemian's culture, and felt he thoughtfully wove it into this story. It gave this book extra depth and definitely enhanced my reading experience.

Overall: I have nothing but love for this tale of friends, family, first love, self love, and self acceptance.

**I would like to thank the publisher for the advanced copy of this book.

This book begins and ends with a Sweet 16 bash. I myself did not have a big party for my Sweet 16, and I was able to convince my daughter to celebrate with a trip to London and Paris instead. 

Did you have a big Sweet 16 party?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. I like the strength of these friendships, and the substance behind them. I just finished reading a very young YA book -- well the characters are 16, but the book sounds like they're 13 or 14, maybe? It's very confusing and everything is wrapped up nicely, but there's very little substance to it. This soounds like it's got some oomph behind it!

    1. This one deals with some interesting ideas about identity and what makes you who you are. I think that's what so special about it.

  2. This sounds like it has some really interesting elements. The parts about the Iranian Revolution sound especially interesting.

    I didn't have any kind of sweet 16 party and neither did my daughters. We were more worried about driving a car than parties!

    1. I am lucky my daughter got her permit, but was not comfortable with driving. So, I dodged the car thing too.

  3. I love #ownvoices books! :D Tick and double tick from me! The cover is a bit blah, but I haven't read many Iranian characters so I am intrigued. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Cass @ Words on Paper

    1. I think I have become a little bit of snob, and I give more weight to an #OwnVoices author when they share parts of their background with us. I don't actually see any direct connection between the cover and the story, but it's pretty enough. This book surprised me in the best way. I loved it!