cover image Just Another Epic Love Poem

Just Another Epic Love Poem

Parisa Akhbari. Dial, $19.99 (400p) ISBN 978-0-593-53049-8

Iranian American Mitra Esfahani, a high school senior, can’t wait to finally graduate from her Bellevue, Wash., Catholic school. Still, she’s excited for her selective poetry seminar, which she’ll be taking with her Mexican American best friend Bea Ortega, with whom Mitra has been collaboratively drafting an ongoing poem for years. Bisexual Mitra has long held a secret flame for lesbian Bea but has feared risking their friendship or unintentionally interfering in Bea’s relationships. Now that Bea is single, however, she notices Mitra’s pining and the two decide to date. But Mitra frets about Bea’s ex, Cara, who is also in their poetry seminar, and is further unsettled when her father announces that he has been talking with Mitra’s drug-dependent mother, whom the family moved away from. With college decisions looming, anxieties about her new relationship brewing, and unresolved anger toward her mom festering, Mitra struggles to hold everything together. Akhbari skillfully enmeshes myriad poetic styles with organic depictions of Iranian culture and food, and channels the insecurities of adolescence and the overlapping pressures of growing up to worthy effect in this promising debut. Ages 14–up. (Mar.)