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“A breath of fresh air and punch to the gut all rolled into one.” —Adib Khorram, award-winning author of Darius the Great Is Not Okay
This “lyrical” (Kirkus Reviews) coming-of-age novel for fans of Darius the Great Is Not Okay and On the Come Up, set in Southern California in 1996, follows a teen who wants to honor her deceased friend’s legacy by entering a rap contest.
Perfect Iranian girls are straight A students, always polite, and grow up to marry respectable Iranian boys. But it’s the San Fernando Valley in 1996, and Rana Joon is far from perfect—she smokes weed and loves Tupac, and she has a secret: she likes girls.
As if that weren’t enough, her best friend, Louie—the one who knew her secret and encouraged her to live in the moment—died almost a year ago, and she’s still having trouble processing her grief. To honor him, Rana enters the rap battle he dreamed of competing in, even though she’s terrified of public speaking.
But the clock is ticking. With the battle getting closer every day, she can’t decide whether to use one of Louie’s pieces or her own poetry, her family is coming apart, and she might even be falling in love. To get herself to the stage and fulfill her promise before her senior year ends, Rana will have to learn to speak her truth and live in the one and only now.
About the Author
Shideh Etaat is an Iranian American writer living in Los Angeles. She received her MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State University. She is the author of Rana Joon and the One and Only Now and has also had her work published in Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian American Writers, Day One, Foglifter, Nowruz Journal, and My Shadow Is My Skin: Voices from the Iranian Diaspora. When she isn’t busy writing, you can find her helping her young son navigate life.
*A Publishers Weekly Summer Reads Pick*
"Achingly beautiful and devastatingly funny. Rana Joon is the big sister I wish I'd had growing up. Required reading for every Iranian-American teen."
— Olivia Abtahi, award-winning author of Perfectly Parvin and Azar on Fire
"Like the greatest Persian poets, Rana Joon asks big questions: about life and death, love and loss, the pain of a fractured family and the pleasure of a well-tended garden. Shideh Etaat's debut is a breath of fresh air and punch to the gut all rolled into one." — Adib Khorram, award-winning author of Darius the Great Is Not Okay
* "A vivacious debut [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." — Publishers Weekly, starred review
"This book had me at Tupac Shakur—rap legend and hero to sixteen-year-old Rana and her late best friend, Louie. But Rana Joon and the One and Only Now is about so much more than rap—it’s a story for anyone who’s ever missed someone, who’s wondered when and how to step out of the shadows, who’s turned to art to explain the inexplicable. From page one, sixteen-year-old Rana invites you into her heart and takes you by the hand as she figures out how to navigate loss, re-find her family, and unfold the promise of her queerness. Deftly written and emotionally honest, Rana Joon and the One and Only Now is nothing if not true to itself, a book as genuine and open-hearted as its heroine." — Shanthi Sekaran, author of Boomi's Boombox and Lucky Boy
"By turns lighthearted and devastating. . . . Readers will root for [Rana's] journey to healing and self-actualization, and will miss her after the last page is turned. A thoroughly engrossing, poignant story of self-discovery." — School Library Journal
"Rarely do we see a main character as real, tough, and refreshingly honest as Rana Joon. As she navigates life after the loss of her best friend, Rana discovers how grief, the pull of first love, and the importance of being true to oneself are all entwined and inevitable in the messy but glorious orbs of our lives. A moving and heartfelt debut." — Marjan Kamali, author of The Stationery Shop and Together Tea
"Rana is an engaging lead with a satisfying journey of self-growth. . . . [a] lyrical read." — Kirkus Reviews
"Through excerpts of Rana's poetry, we see how her bold exterior masks the breadth of her pain. The end isn't tidy or certain, but it offers hope as Rana sees the value in her voice and its demand for truth." — Booklist
"Touching . . . What makes the novel stand out is the compassion that Etaat extends to multiple generations of characters." — The Orange County Register