I received this book for free from Balzer + Bray in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian
Published by Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Family, Friendship
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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?
The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian is about a young Iranian-American teenager named Daria who goes on the path of discovery after finding out her family history isn’t what she expected. She and her three best friends (Joy, Caroline, and Kurt) make up the group called The Authentics. They pride themselves on being completely true and authentic in everything they do. When their teacher makes them do a genealogy report over the holidays, Daria can’t wait to show the world just what an authentic Iranian family is like…only what she thought was true at the surface is misleading and everything she thinks she knows about her family and herself come crashing down.
The first couple chapters of this book were a little shaky. There was a lot of info flying around about Daria, her friends, her family, and what it’s like to be Persian living in Los Angeles. One of the things that captivated me about this storyline is Daria’s heritage and getting the opportunity to see what life is like as an Iranian-American teen. So anyway, there was just a lot going on in the beginning and it was kind of hard to keep up with it all. After a couple of chapters, though, Nazemian settled down into his writing technique and storytelling and I was hooked. Daria was an easy MC to get along with. She’s fiercely loyal to her friends and her heritage and her relationship with them truly did feel authentic to me. When she discovers her family history isn’t what she thought it was (I hate being broad here but it’ll ruin the whole book so I’m trying to keep this vague) the emotions and actions she takes felt raw and real. I was frustrated when she was frustrated. I cried in one particular section when she cried. There were times when I thought she could have done things differently or not cared about things she cared about, but she’s a 15-year-old girl living in LA so it made sense. I liked where her journey of self-discovery took her and I enjoyed getting to meet the people along the way she met and interacted with.
“Visiting Maman Homa was kind of like a box of chocolates — you never knew what you were gonna get. Except that with a box of chocolates, you got a guide, so if you were smart and planned ahead, you actually did know exactly what you were gonna get.”
I thought Nazemian did a good job telling Daria’s story and ending it in a realistic, touching, and believable manner. Aside from the shaky first couple of chapters, the only other thing that bothered me was how often this group of friends referred to themselves as The Authentics. By the 4th time, I was not-so-silently saying, “We know. We get it.” When I was in high school we never had names for the various friend groups so it was just a bit annoying hearing this one over and over. Also, there is a little romance in here that was kind of strange but it grew on me. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the way it was handled at the end of the book. Again, spoilers and whatnot so just take that statement as you will. I saw a review on Goodreads that made a very interesting point. The title is called The Authentics, making you believe that’s what this book is about, the group of friends. But in reality, it’s much more focused on Daria’s journey to discover who she is, who her family is, and where to go from there.
“Because stories are the only way to make sense of the chaos and randomness of our world.”
Overall, I thought The Authentics was a charming story and I really did enjoy reading it. Was it top book of the year? No, but I enjoyed getting to view the world through someone from a different culture than myself, and I thought Nazemian did a great job with writing genuine scenes that played with my emotions.
Shaky beginning but the writing style smoothed out effortlessly thereafter. Daria’s journey of self-discovery was heartfelt and realistic. Worth a read!
*quotes are taken from an advance uncorrected proof