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Cover reveal! Best friendship blossoms into something more in this gorgeously written queer literary romance. Just Another Epic Love Poem by Parisa Akhbari is coming to shelves March 12, 2024!

Over the past five years, Mitra Esfahani has known two constants: her best friend Bea Ortega and The Book—a dogeared moleskin she and Bea have been filling with the stanzas of an epic, never-ending poem since they were 13.

For introverted Mitra, The Book is one of the few places she can open herself completely and where she gets to see all sides of brilliant and ebullient Bea. There, they can share everything—Mitra’s complicated feelings about her absent mother, Bea’s heartache over her most recent breakup—nothing too messy or complicated for The Book.

Nothing except the one thing with the power to change their entire friendship: the fact that Mitra is helplessly in love with Bea.

Told in lyrical, confessional prose and snippets of poetry Just Another Epic Love Poem takes readers on a journey that is equal parts joyful, heartbreaking, and funny as Mitra and Bea navigate the changing nature of I love you.

Scroll down to read a sneak peek, and remember to preorder your copy here!

Cover art by Beatriz Ramo; Cover design by Kelley Brady

Loving Bea isn’ta choice. Love is the reflex to Bea existing at all. Like squinting at the sun, or shivering when she touches the back of my neck. My body just knows to do it. I can’t control a reflex, and that petrifies me.

In the past, Bea was off-limits. She’s always had some kind of romantic possibility in the works. There was Cara, and before Cara there was Harper, and before Harper there was Natalie, whom she sort of dated at the same time as Harper.

Bea attracts romantic entanglements like cat hair to a lint roller. She can’t help it, it’s just how she is. And because she was always taken, I could seal her off behind a brick wall of Best Friend in my mind. I made watertight boundaries. But now that she’s single, all my feelings are starting to leak through.

If I had to pinpoint a beginning, it’s this: The summer after sopho­more year, Bea came over for one of our marathon nights of chatter and reading and snacks, which she’d just started calling wake-overs, because we were terrible at remembering to sleep. Around eleven, Bea pointed out my bedroom window. “Up for stargazing?”

The window formed a perfect portal to a flat section of rooftop; we’d only ever gone out there for daytime sun-soaking. But it was a gorgeous night, and Bea put on her begging eyes.

We dragged blankets, books, and a thermos of chai through the mouth of the window and made a nest on the rooftop. The June air filled my nose with earthy, after-storm smells. Bea in the blanket was soft and cozy, and the night around us sighed with breeze.

The darkness gave me permission to ask Bea the question that had camped in the back of my brain since we were thirteen.

“Why did you single me out that first day?”

I homed in on her face. Bea’s curls expanded in proportion to how late we stayed up. The tip of her nose flushed warm from chai, and her chestnut eyes lit with the glow from my bedroom lamp.

“I could’ve been literally anyone,” I said. “You didn’t know what you were getting into.”

“You looked like a reader.” She shrugged. Like it was so easy for her to choose me. That first choice catalyzed a thousand others, and there we were, still bobbing in the ripple of her paper scrap.

“I thought . . .” Her eyes tracked mine. “I guess I thought we’d understand each other. And we did.” She reached into the blanket tangle and brandished The Book. It was our first one, with a tattered black cover and red-ribbon bookmark. “Thought we could read some together.”

She shed her glasses and brought her face close to our thirteen-year-old handwriting. I expected her to cringe at our dorky rhymes, but instead she smiled this private smile and huddled closer to me in the blankets. I leaned into her side and rested my head on her shoul­der while she read, my cheek nuzzled into her collarbone.

Maybe I was the only person who got to see this Bea: the wee-hour Bea, starry and bound up in wonder.

“Look at us,” she said.

When she read the passages to me, her mouth carried everything. All the awkwardness, all the treasures. Her voice wrapped around me.

In that moment, I knew it: I loved Bea. And not in the way I should’ve loved her, if she were only my best friend. This was a whole new layer of feeling, like that night had stripped the haze off every­thing around me.

And swirled up in the rich darkness of that night, loving her felt possible. Like I’d found some way to stretch beyond friendship and reach something deeper. Like maybe, just maybe, she could love me too.

But then she put The Book down and started analyzing a thirty-second conversation she’d had with the popcorn girl at the Crossroads movie theater who she’d always suspected was gay.

“I think there’s something there,” she said. “You know? Maybe I should go for it.”

And just like that, the possibility burned away.

Penguin Teen