Only This Beautiful Moment | Abdi Nazemian


Only This Beautiful Moment by Abdi Nazemian 

Out now from Balzer + Bray; 390 pages 

Content warnings: Homophobia, gun violence, police brutality 

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” (Bio from author’s website). 

Find Abdi Nazemian on the following platforms: 

“Because it’s my country, for better or worse. And maybe I can make it better.”  

Only This Beautiful Moment is a novel told by three generations of young Iranian men in the same family. In the 2019 timeline, readers follow Moud, a gay teenager living in Los Angeles as he goes to visit his dying grandfather in Iran. This is his first time setting foot in the country where his father, Saeed, grew up. Set in Tehran in 1978 during a time of political unrest, the second timeline follows Saeed as a young engineering student. He participates in protests, and, when his parents find out, they send him to live with his estranged grandmother in America. The last timeline of the novel follows Bobby, Moud’s grandfather, who is a closeted gay boy living in 1939. His overbearing mother lands him a contract with MGM studio, thrusting Bobby into the dark world of Hollywood where he is forced into hiding his sexuality so he can keep a clean public image.

This novel is perfect for readers who love character-driven stories. Abdi Nazemian crafted a compelling and nuanced portrayal of a family that is experiencing and passing down generational trauma. Each character has their own distinct motives, fears, hopes, and dreams, ensuring that each boy had a distinctive voice, so no POV blended into the next. I also really loved that each POV was set in different timelines and countries, because that really helped me visualize and understand the history of this family. While readers might have characters or years that they prefer reading from depending on their personal taste, I think that all of the POVs are strong, well-written, and add so much to this ambitious, spanning novel. Throughout the years readers see homophobia in the United States in the 1930s and 1970s as well as modern day Iran. However, readers will also get to see how members of the LGBTQ+ community celebrate their identities even in the face of adversity, which adds an undeniable sense of hope to this beautiful narrative. 

(Pine Reads Review would like to thank SparkPoint Studio for sending us a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change before final publication.)

PRR Assistant Director, Emma Watts