The Authentics tells the story of Daria in the year leading up to her Sweet Sixteen. Like many teenagers, she’s been through a shift in her close friendships, is uncertain about her place in the social hierarchy, and is chafing against the expectations of her parents. Through research for a school assignment, she also uncovers a family secret that challenges everything she thinks about herself and the people she loves.
In The Authentics, Nazermian shows us a community that is not often seen in American teen literature: Persian Americans in California. Readers will learn that Persians don’t all share the same religion or relationship with the history of their nation of origin. Readers will have an introduction to some Iranian foods, words, and customs. Nazermian also shows us a caring nuclear family setting as well as some healthy high school friendships.
Unfortunately, at no point did Daria feel like a real and fully developed person. Nazermian name-drops Beverly Hills, swanky hotels, the music and movie industries, real estate development, and Chanel, yet he expects that his readers will accept Daria as “too poor” for a family trip during school vacations. Much of his writing has been for films, and the setting for this book shows the unrealistic wealth that is often on display in the movies. That, coupled with Daria’s impulsive, dangerous, and irresponsible behavior makes it difficult for her to be perceived as a sympathetic or authentic character.
I really liked the idea of this book and wanted to love it.