The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian (review)
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Reviewed by
Nazemian, Abdi The Authentics. Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 2017 [288p] Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-248646-2 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-248668-4 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 8-10

Daria is pushing back against the expectations of her Iranian-American family, especially her luxury-loving mother, who’s planning a lavish Sweet Sixteen party for Daria; she’d rather hang out with her anti-popular friends who dub themselves “the Authentics.” Daria’s family relationships become more complicated when she secretly takes a DNA test that pegs her as half-Mexican; a little sleuthing reveals her Mexican-American birth mother’s name and current location. Daria unexpectedly strikes up a friendship-cum-romance with her mother’s stepson, Rico, while deciding how to break the news of her discovery to both her birth mother (who just thinks she’s Rico’s new girlfriend) and her parents. This is largely an implausible and high-moneyed soaper as Daria moves among the aristocracy of “Tehrangeles,” explores some flirtation possibilities, and has a very unlikely journey to her genetic roots. What gives the book some additional warmth and weight is the immersive picture of Daria’s Persian-American enclave and culture and the portrait of Daria’s parents, especially her elegant, determined Iranian-American mother. While it’s overly convenient that her romance with Rico is abandoned, it’s pleasing that the victory here isn’t coupling with anybody but Daria’s finding of her own complicated self.

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