PERFECTLY PARVIN, by Olivia Abtahi, G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, May 18, 2021, Hardcover, $17.99 (young adult)
A 14-year-old Iranian-American sets out to find the perfect homecoming date in Olivia Abtahi’s debut novel, Perfectly Parvin.
Parvin Mohammadi has just been dumped — only days after receiving official girlfriend status. Not only is she heartbroken, she’s humiliated. Enter high school heartthrob Matty Fumero, who just might be the smoking-hot cure to all her boy problems. If Parvin can get Matty to ask her to Homecoming, she’s positive it will prove to herself and her ex that she’s girlfriend material after all. There’s just one problem: Matty is definitely too cool for bassoon-playing, frizzy-haired, Cheeto-eating Parvin. Since being herself hasn’t worked for her in the past (see aforementioned dumping), she decides to start acting like the women in her favorite rom-coms. Those women aren’t loud, they certainly don’t cackle when they laugh, and they smile much more than they talk.
But Parvin discovers that being a rom-com dream girl is much harder than it looks. Also hard? The parent-mandated Farsi lessons. A confusing friendship with a boy who’s definitely not supposed to like her. And hardest of all, the ramifications of the Muslim ban on her family in Iran. Suddenly, being herself has never been more important. —Synopsis provided by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
I read a lot of books.
A. Lot. Of. Books.
Over the past 14 years of reviewing professionally, I’ve read more than a thousand books (probably closer to two thousand) and I’ve seen it all — the good, the bad and the ugly.
So, when I come across a book that rings true, I have to share it. Enter Perfectly Parvin. It’s fresh, it’s charming, and it’s a joy to read.
Author Olivia Abtahi does an excellent job “introducing” Parvin’s Iranian culture without it feeling like an introduction. Seeing the life of an American teenager through a different lens, particularly this one, is illuminating and heartfelt.
Parvin is a lovely character. She’s smart, unsure, a little loud and a lot of fun. She thinks she has everything figured out only to find out she’s got nothing figured out.
But Parvin isn’t alone. She’s got her family and two best friends — Fabian and Ruth — on her side. I was particularly impressed with Abtahi’s work on these secondary characters. Fabian is gay and Mexican American, and Ruth is pansexual and Korean America. And they just are. They are who they are without feeling like props or that they’re there for a special message. They are their authentic selves, and it’s beautiful.
Perfectly Parvin is a book you won’t want to put down. It’s a celebration of self and self-discovery full of wit and light throughout.