cover image Rana Joon and the One and Only Now

Rana Joon and the One and Only Now

Shideh Etaat. Atheneum, $19.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-66591-762-9

In 1996 San Fernando Valley, shy, Tupac-obsessed high school senior Rana Joon struggles to hide her queer identity from her strict Iranian parents while navigating loss in Etaat’s vivacious debut. The only person who knew Rana was a lesbian was her biracial best friend Louie, an aspiring rapper who died in a car accident one year prior. Knowing that Louie’s dream was to win annual rap battle the Way of the Wu, Rana signs up to participate in Louie’s honor, planning to use one of his pieces. But when her coach reminds her that “the competition is about revealing truth,” Rana knows that if she wants to win, she can’t recycle someone else’s story. Even as she wrestles with her fear of public speaking, and as familial conflicts threaten to overwhelm, a budding romance and support from her community might be what she needs to finally live as her authentic self. Abundant era-specific cultural and musical references imbue the narrative with a nostalgic vibe and the effervescent air of a summer block party, expertly complementing the heady seasonal California setting. Through Rana’s magnetic POV and striking poetry, Etaat conveys Rana’s anger, desire, and grief, making for a lively and thought-provoking exploration of self-love and self-discovery. Ages 14–up. Agent: Margaret Danko and Kim Perel, Irene Goodman Agency. (July)