A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The Authentics introduces readers to Muslim characters they may not have encountered before. They are from families that left Iran after the 1979 revolution that overthrew the Shah and often identify themselves as Persian to distance themselves from the current regime in Tehran. They're Muslim but not religious: Women and girls do not dress modestly or wear hijabs, and they have friends and family members who are gay. A visit by Daria's aunt offers insight into the life of someone who chose to stay in Iran.
Who you are as a person is not defined by labels like "Persian," "Mexican," or even "American."
Positive Role Models
Daria and her friends made what's a really tough choice for many teens: deciding to be who they are rather than what others want or expect them to be. The Authentics don't need to be the most popular kids in school; they want to be the "realest."
Violence & Scariness
Two violent deaths from the past are mentioned but not described: Daria's grandfather was executed by ayatollahs in Iran and Rico's mother was killed by gang members.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A few kisses.
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Infrequent use of "pissed," "sucks," "crap," "s--t," "bulls--t," and "Jesus" (used as an exclamation).
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Products & Purchases
It's teens living in Beverly Hills, so lots of talk about upscale brands like Chanel, Barney's, and BMW. Mention of movies Saturday Night Fever, The Da Vinci Code, and The Hunger Games; TV shows that run the gamut from Hoarders and Seinfeld to The Shahs of Sunset; and singers from Kanye West to a fictionalized Iranian female rapper.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults drink on a few occasions, and Daria tries one drink. A minor character smokes a joint and another teen smokes once.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Abdi Nazemian's The Authentics is the story of 15-year-old Iranian American Daria Esfandyar, who lives in Los Angeles surrounded by a loving group of Persian, Chinese, Nigerian, Muslim, Jewish, agnostic, gay, and straight friends and family. She attends Beverly Hills High School, where she and her best friends have dubbed themselves "The Authentics" as a counterpoint to "The Nose Jobs," a Persian clique led by Daria's former best friend. When a school project sends Daria in search of her family history, she discovers a long buried secret: She's adopted, and her birth mother is Mexican American. As she confronts this new reality, she meets her birth mother, finds an unlikely romance, and embarks on a journey of self-discovery as she tries to embrace her newfound heritage without losing the authentic Daria. There are a few kisses and some strong language ("pissed," "sucks," "crap," "s--t," "bulls--t"). This is Nazemian's first YA novel. His adult novel, The Walk-In Closet, won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Debut Fiction.
Is It Any Good?
This smart, funny, and heartwarming story of an Iranian-American teen's search for her true identity shatters many stereotypes about Muslim teens and families. Daria's world in The Authentics is overflowing with friends and family who come from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds, and with a few exceptions, they all get along. At times, all this goodwill seems a bit too idyllic. But readers may be inspired by the story to reach out and make a friend of someone who's not at all like them.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.