Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2022) Featured Review of Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi

Perfectly Parvin by Olivia Abtahi
Penguin Random House / G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 18, 2021
ISBN: 978-0593109427 

Parvin Mohammadi can’t wait to start high school after a magical summer at the beach with her first-ever boyfriend — but when he dumps her on the first day of high school in front of her friends for being “too loud,” Parvin hatches a scheme to become the perfect rom-com girl so hunky sophomore Matty Fumero will ask her to homecoming. Parvin will do whatever it takes to suppress her loud, hairy, flashy, prank-obsessed self and live her high school dream, even if the boy she’s growing closer to in her Farsi classes seems to like those things about her. 

High school freshmen aren’t often featured in YA, but Abtahi absolutely nails the excitement and awkward horror of this pivotal age. Parvin’s voice is authentic and organically hilarious, and secondary characters are fully realized, especially Parvin’s Iranian immigrant father and white mother, and her two closest friends, who are Korean American and Mexican American. The story is grounded in Parvin struggling to navigate her cultural identity, and Abtahi skillfully includes a subplot about the United States “Muslim Ban” that adds emotional and thematic depth without overpowering the narrative. Perfectly Parvin is a fresh, charming standout in the crowded “just be yourself” coming-of-age genre. 

Younger fans of the Netflix series Never Have I Ever and comedic coming-of-age stories like Ben Philippe’s The Field Guide to the North American Teenager and Ciara Smyth’s Not My Problem will root for (and laugh with) Parvin as she navigates ninth grade, her identity, and her love life. 

Megan Jackson, she/her

Other Nominated Titles

  • Your Heart, My Sky: Love in a Time of Hunger by Margarita Engle (March 23, 2021)
  • Indestructible Object by Mary McCoy (June 15, 2021)

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten. The previous years’ lists are available on The Hub.