Only This Beautiful Moment by Abdi Nazemian
Published: November 9th 2023 by Little Tiger
Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5)
Genre: Young Adult // Contemporary, LGBT, Historical Romance
Quick Thoughts: Heart-warming, significant and one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a long time.
About The Book:
From a Stonewall Honor–winning author comes a sweeping story of three generations of boys in the same Iranian family. Perfect for fans of Last Night at the Telegraph Club, As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow and If You Still Recognise Me.
2019 – Moud is an out gay teen living in Los Angeles with his distant father, Saeed. When Moud gets the news that his grandfather in Iran is dying, he accompanies his dad to Tehran, where the revelation of family secrets will force Moud into a new understanding of his history, his culture, and himself.
1978 – Saeed is an engineering student with a promising future ahead of him in Tehran. But when his parents discover his involvement in the country’s burgeoning revolution, they send him to safety in America, a country Saeed despises. And even worse – he’s forced to live with the American grandmother he never knew existed.
1939 – Bobby, the son of a calculating Hollywood stage mother, lands a coveted MGM studio contract. But the fairy-tale world of glamour he’s thrust into has a dark side…
Set against the backdrop of Tehran and Los Angeles, this tale of intergenerational trauma and love is an ode to the fragile bonds of family, the hidden secrets of history and all the beautiful moments that make us who we are today.
When the lovely team at Little Tiger offered me the chance to read Only This Beautiful Moment, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it floating around Goodreads yet because it’s got that I’m-going-to-steal-your-heart vibe that I am forever enthralled by (and somehow must love getting my heart broken by) so I was so excited to start reading because I hadn’t yet read a book by Abdi, and I love finding new favourites.
We meet Moud in 2019, an out gay teen living in Los Angeles with his father, Saeed, and learn that they have a very strained relationship. Moud believes his father isn’t accepting of his sexuality, and his boyfriend often calls him out for it. However, when Moud is told his grandfather in Iran is dying, he agrees to travel with his dad to Tehran to see him. But there, Moud learns more than he bargained for, with a fresh understanding of not only his family, but himself, too.
Similarly in 1978, we meet Moud’s father Saeed as a teenage student with a bright future, living in Tehran with his Parents. But after getting caught up in the revolution of riots, he’s sent to the US to live with the American grandmother he never knew existed. He grapples with his hatred of America and adjusting to life there, finding out things about his family he never knew before. And in 1939, we meet Bobby, Moud’s grandfather, who has just landed an MGM contract in the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood life. But with the enchantment comes a dark side, made worse by the secret of his sexuality he’s keeping. Suddenly he’s not free, each person he hangs out with monitored, leaving Bobby feeling under a microscope when all he wants is to be himself and be happy—a theme that runs deep through the generations of men that will come after him.
Overall, Only This Beautiful Moment was heart-warming, significant and one of the most beautiful books I’ve read in a long time. The family timelines intertwine like a tapestry that lets us as readers see how delicate our lives and hearts are, and how family bonds are some of life’s dearest treasures. I fell in love with Abdi’s writing, how gentle and poignant it felt, as though the story was not being told at me, but right into my heart. I do wish we had more time with the characters and that it was a longer book, but I also love that some threads were unfinished and left to how our lives often are, not in our final destination or happy-ever-after, but just carrying on. This was one of those books that will grab you by the heart and not let go. A gorgeous novel I’d highly recommend.
About The Author
Abdi Nazemian spent his childhood in a series of exciting locations (Tehran, Paris, Toronto, New York), but could usually be found in his bedroom watching old movies and reading.
Abdi’s first novel, THE WALK-IN CLOSET, was awarded Best Debut at the Lambda Literary Awards. He has written three young adult novels, all published by Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins: THE AUTHENTICS (2017), LIKE A LOVE STORY (2019), and THE CHANDLER LEGACIES (2022). LIKE A LOVE STORY won a Stonewall Honor and was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best young adult books of all time.
Abdi lives in Los Angeles with his two children and husband, and holds dual citizenship between the United States and Canada.
Abdi is not the inspiration for Madonna’s children’s book “The Adventures of Abdi,” though he will forever insist that he is.