Darius the Great Is Not Okay
Darius doesn't think he'll ever be enough, in America or in Iran.Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He's about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it's pretty overwhelming--especially when he's also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom's family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what's going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understands that sometimes, best friends don't have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he's spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.Sohrab calls him Darioush--the original Persian version of his name--and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he's Darioush to Sohrab. When it's time to go home to America, he'll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

Darius the Great Is Not Okay Details

TitleDarius the Great Is Not Okay
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 28th, 2018
PublisherDial Books
ISBN-139780525552963
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Contemporary, Fiction, Lgbt, Realistic Fiction

Darius the Great Is Not Okay Review

  • شيماء ✨
    January 1, 1970
    So who else read this title and immediately thought “big mood”? also, am I the only one getting so many Ari & Dante vibes from this book??
  • Kai
    January 1, 1970
    "Suicide isn't the only way you can lose someone to depression."Darius the Great Is Not Okay and neither am I.I will rave about this book. A lot. I have so many good things to say about it that I need to gather my thoughts before I can write a coherent review. This book took my heart by storm. It made me sad and happy and also very hungry.When I started this book, I knew that I would get emotional. With some books, you just know. The tension started building up and I could feel the tears prickin "Suicide isn't the only way you can lose someone to depression."Darius the Great Is Not Okay and neither am I.I will rave about this book. A lot. I have so many good things to say about it that I need to gather my thoughts before I can write a coherent review. This book took my heart by storm. It made me sad and happy and also very hungry.When I started this book, I knew that I would get emotional. With some books, you just know. The tension started building up and I could feel the tears pricking my eyes. They were impatiently waiting to be released, and during the last chapters of the book, the dam broke, and I was a complete and utter mess.I would not say this is a sad book. At least not in the tragic and heartbreaking way that Adam Silvera is known for. More in the silent and nostalgic way of Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Sometimes life is ugly and beautiful at the same time, and Adib Khorram wonderfully captured this feeling.Darius has an American father (though I did have a feeling that there might be some German roots) and a Persian mother. He loves Star Trek and The Lord of the Rings but not as much as he loves his 8-year-old sister Laleh. At school, he is the weird, chubby loner, who falls victim to his classmates' jokes. And he has to take his medicine every day, or his depression will get out of hand. For all of his life, his Persian grandparents have only ever been pixels on a computer screen, but now he and his whole family are going to visit them in Yazd, Iran for the first time in his life. The only downside is that his grandfather, his Babou, suffers a brain tumour and does not have much time left.This is where I fell in love with Yazd, with Persepolis, with Persian food and culture. We need diverse books because they help us discover a world that is more than just our own four walls. We need diverse books because they teach us tolerance, acceptance and love. I needed this book, because I had never before read a story set in Iran. I never knew that I wanted to taste Quottab, a deep-fried, almond-filled pastry, or Faludeh, a sorbet-like dessert served with rose water syrup. I want to go visit Yazd, I want to see Persepolis and learn about the historic Darius the Great. I loved how elegantly the author teaches the reader about Persian culture and life in Iran.The only thing I could criticise would be Darius himself, but that would be cruel. Some people might say that they got annoyed with his inability to start a sentence without an Uh, but I think it simply transmits his shyness and awkwardness around people, especially around people he loves. You also have to keep in mind that Darius has been struggling with depression for years. He fears that he will disappoint everyone around him, especially his father, and he often feels inadequate and unwanted. I think this is something many teenagers and adults can identify with, which is what makes Darius so relatable. Another aspect that I enjoyed was that the author did not spell everything out. When authors explain each and every detail of their story, when they reveal every secret and leave no room for my own imagination, it often kills the story for me. Books that leave me to wonder and ponder are the ones that stick with me the longest. Darius life does not start and end with this book. There is room for more. There is actually a lot of potential for a sequel that would maybe explore Darius future, his friendship with Sohrab, and also his sexuality.One more thing: Darius father has two mum's, and the fact that this is portrayed in a basically off-hand way like it is the most normal thing in the world, makes me want to wave rainbow flags and throw glitter. Which defeats the cause, I know.What I want to say is, read this book. I hope you will love it as much as I did.Thank you to Penguin Random House International and NetGalley for providing me with an uncorrected eGalley!Find more of my books on Instagram
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  • may ➹
    January 1, 1970
    “It’s okay not to be okay.” The first thing you should know about Darius the Great is Not Okay is that it actually made me cry (which doesn’t happen frequently). It was hilarious, and heartbreaking, and gorgeous. I saw so much of myself in Darius, and each time I put the book down I just wanted to pick it back up and read more.This book is about a boy named Darius, who has never really been in touch with his Persian identity until visiting Iran—and his family—for the first time. It’s about fa “It’s okay not to be okay.” The first thing you should know about Darius the Great is Not Okay is that it actually made me cry (which doesn’t happen frequently). It was hilarious, and heartbreaking, and gorgeous. I saw so much of myself in Darius, and each time I put the book down I just wanted to pick it back up and read more.This book is about a boy named Darius, who has never really been in touch with his Persian identity until visiting Iran—and his family—for the first time. It’s about family and friendship and mental health and learning to be okay with not being okay. It’s about finding who you are and making connections with other people and it’s just overall a beautiful story about a boy coming to terms with himself.This book quite character-driven, as it’s focused on Darius’ development, and I REALLY loved it. Darius is such a sweet, lovable character, and you can’t help but get attached to him and root for him throughout the book. What he feels, you feel (and I lowkey almost hate that because I ENDED UP CRYING).The writing is super easy to read, enjoyable, and engaging. Darius’ voice is really hilarious (and almost reminds me a little of Alice Oseman’s writing style? which is a huge compliment) and I felt compelled to pick the book back up right after I put it down.One of the things I loved most about this book was the depression representation, which was… absolutely amazing. Granted, I haven’t seen a LOT of depression rep in books, but this is definitely one of the best representations I’ve read.While it didn’t capture my experience exactly, it did highlight just exactly how depression can turn you against yourself without you realizing it, and how it’s okay to not be okay. One of my favorite things about the rep is that it shows the “subtlety” (if you could call it that) of depression. Sometimes it’s not a huge thing looming over you; sometimes it’s just a collection of moments that build up until you can’t take it anymore. No one had ever made me feel like it was okay to cry. Or bumped shoulders with me and made me smile. Also, so many struggles with his Persian identity were struggles I could relate to, though of course with my Thai identity. There are really specific connections to my own family, but there were also more general ones, like not being able to communicate as much with grandparents, or feeling awkward with them, or not knowing things about your culture that you feel you should already know.Another of my favorite aspects of this book was how it explored the themes of family and friendship. Family was SO important in this book, especially since it’s directly connected to him getting in touch with his Persian identity, and it’s really beautiful to see him bond with these people he’d only ever been able to see on Skype.And while Darius does get to know his grandparents and aunts and uncles, he ends up also growing closer to his dad, who he hasn’t been on really good terms with. It was honestly so beautiful to see their relationship developing, especially because they also talked about depression (which his dad has as well!).And finally, about friendship… The friendship that rose between Darius and Sohrab was SO GOOD. I’d originally thought this was an m/m romance between the two of them, but it wasn’t, and I’m kind of glad? Because 1) it emphasizes that queer people don’t have to be in a relationship to be queer or queer enough and 2) FRIENDSHIP IS SO IMPORTANT.Sohrab is really Darius’ first friend, since he never really fit in at school and always got bullied, and he helps Darius realize that who he is is okay, that the different parts of himself aren’t bad or things to be insulted. And it was just so beautiful to see these two soft boys BE SO SUPPORTIVE of each other and I loved it. “Your place was empty before. But this is your family. You belong here.” At this point, I truly have no idea what else I can say to make you read this book besides this: IT MADE ME CRY. I mean, crying has been happening more often with books now, but it’s still not a common thing and that should tell you just how emotionally powerful this book is!!!!READ THIS BOOK. PLEASE. It is just a beautiful story that will stay with me for a long time, and I think it will be an unforgettable book for a lot of people. “You okay, son?”“Yeah, Dad,” I said.I took a long, slow sip of my tea.“I’m great.” :: rep :: fat biracial Persian (Iranian, white) gay MC with depression, major Persian (Iranian) Baha’i side character, major side character with depression, multiple Persian (Iranian) side characters:: content warnings :: depression, racist comments (challenged), fatphobic comments (challenged), comments criticizing depression (challenged)Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for a spot on the blog tour and promotion of the book!
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  • Larry H
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars, rounded up.What an enjoyable, sweet, and special book!"What kind of name is Darius Grover Kellner? It was like I was destined to be a target."Darius Kellner calls himself a "Fractional Persian"—his mother is Persian, and he refers to his blonde, Teutonic father as the Übermensch. But he feels like he doesn't quite fit into either world. He looks like his mother but never really learned to speak Farsi (although his younger sister did), and while he and his father share a love of Star 4.5 stars, rounded up.What an enjoyable, sweet, and special book!"What kind of name is Darius Grover Kellner? It was like I was destined to be a target."Darius Kellner calls himself a "Fractional Persian"—his mother is Persian, and he refers to his blonde, Teutonic father as the Übermensch. But he feels like he doesn't quite fit into either world. He looks like his mother but never really learned to speak Farsi (although his younger sister did), and while he and his father share a love of Star Trek , it seems like mostly Darius disappoints his father, because he's not more athletic, not in better shape, not the Übermensch-in-training he knows his father wants.The other thing that Darius and his father share is depression, although both manage it through medication. But when Darius gets sad when the more popular kids in high school (aka the "Soulless Minions of Orthodoxy") pick on him or play pranks with him as the subject, when his father disapproves of Darius' in-depth interest in fancy teas (not the factory-made stuff he sells at his part-time job), or when his father criticizes his hair or his eating habits, it seems like his father forgets that Darius has the same problem, which depresses him even further.But when his family heads to Iran to visit Darius' grandparents (his first trip to his ancestral home), he hopes that things will be different. While he absolutely loves spending time with his grandmother, he feels ill-at-ease around his grandfather, who is terminally ill. He feels his grandfather looks at him as disapprovingly as his father, especially when he learns Darius takes medicine for depression. Plus, he doesn't speak Farsi, and his younger sister has no problem communicating with everyone.Everything changes when Darius meets Sohrab, the son of friends of his grandparents. With Sohrab, Darius plays soccer (and enjoys it for the first time), visits various historical landmarks and tourist attractions in the area, and learns about both his heritage and his grandparents, who have been a part of Sohrab's life as long as he can remember. More than that, however, Darius finds he can confide in Sohrab and share the things that sadden him or cause him to feel inadequate, and he knows not only does Sohrab listen, but he identifies with the feelings as well."The thing is, I never had a friend like Sohrab before. One who understood me without even trying. Who knew what it was like to be stuck on the outside because of one little thing that set you apart." Darius the Great Is Not Okay is a book about feeling like you don't fit in, and how good it feels when you finally click with someone who helps you realize your self-worth. It's about the assumptions we make which cause us emotional pain, and how if we only expressed our feelings, we'd save ourselves so much anxiety. It's also a book about what it's like to live with depression, and how it can impact everything we do and feel, as well as our relationships.This is such a special book. It is so full of heart and the characters are so memorable. I was utterly hooked on this book from start to finish, and unbelievably, read the entire book in one day (and I worked, too). Adib Khorram does such a fantastic job telling a simple yet poignant, rich story, and he makes you feel the same emotions the characters do. I enjoyed this book so much I am willing to overlook my one pet peeve, which is that nearly every sentence Darius said started with, "Um." I know this is probably accurate for teenage boys, but it got a little monotonous after a while.I love books that leave me with a smile on my face. Darius the Great Is Not Okay is definitely one of those. I can't wait to see what's next for Khorram—if this is what he did in his debut, the sky's the limit!See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.
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  • Lola
    January 1, 1970
    I used to believe that the first chapters of a story set the tone for the whole book, but DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY proved me wrong.See, I had trouble picturing the events happening in the first twenty or so pages. I couldn’t picture the characters, settings or figure out the relationships between people. But the more I read, the better it got and this is not something I get to say very often.This book quickly escaladed from a DNF to a three-star-rating to a deserved four-star-rating. Darius I used to believe that the first chapters of a story set the tone for the whole book, but DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY proved me wrong.See, I had trouble picturing the events happening in the first twenty or so pages. I couldn’t picture the characters, settings or figure out the relationships between people. But the more I read, the better it got and this is not something I get to say very often.This book quickly escaladed from a DNF to a three-star-rating to a deserved four-star-rating. Darius is someone that you may dislike at first—find him pessimistic, sarcastic and just not fun to be around—but the moment where he allows himself to be vulnerable with us, the reader, everything changes.So much that I feel a little disheartened to be leaving him. I feel thoroughly invested in his relationship with his family, newfound friendships and, of course, his future. The writing makes it so easy to understand his thoughts and the first person POV works absolutely perfectly. I *have* read books with characters struggling with depression before, so none of Darius’ reactions shocked me, but I do want to say that I learned a lot about how *other people* may view depression and these types of books are simply amazing because they HUMANIZE people with mental illnesses. Yes, Darius has his moments, but he is a breathing, living human being with a beautiful heart and sense of loyalty. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’
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  • C.G. Drews
    January 1, 1970
    Oh this was so good. I got so into it that if anyone had asked me what I was doing this weekend, I would've been fully like: "Yes I am just in Iran with Darius this weekend how about you." It was so easy to feel in the story. Darius is biracial Persian/American and since he's visiting Iran for the first time (and he doesn't speak farsi) he so often felt lost and outside and like he didn't truly belong. So explained the culture and the holidays as he went and it was so easy to be swept up in expl Oh this was so good. I got so into it that if anyone had asked me what I was doing this weekend, I would've been fully like: "Yes I am just in Iran with Darius this weekend how about you." It was so easy to feel in the story. Darius is biracial Persian/American and since he's visiting Iran for the first time (and he doesn't speak farsi) he so often felt lost and outside and like he didn't truly belong. So explained the culture and the holidays as he went and it was so easy to be swept up in exploring his heritage with him.I heart.➸ It also had thoroughly good depression rep.Absolute shout out to ownvoices authors who bare their soul on the page, because that is not easy ok. Darius has been depressed ever since he was a really young teen, so this is his life. But like he has no "reason" to be and that chews at him. Depression doesn't work that way WE KNOW THAT. Darius knows that. But (as also a depressed person with no "reason") I just connected with him so hugely. He talks about the wild emotional mood swings and the isolation and the anxiety spirals. It was just A+ excellently discussed. (view spoiler)[And I almost CRIED when his dad was talking about how he nearly killed himself when Darius was about 7, so that's why he pulled away from their relationship. afsjdkal. Depression is horrible and cruel and scary and I think the book captured that while not being uber dark also. (hide spoiler)](((also shout out to the fact it was a book with depression, but that wasn't the catalyst or Thing Darius had to work through. It was part of his life but the book underlined how you could just go on living plus manage your depression)))➸ It was MASSIVELY about family!I loved this! Just getting to be with Darius as he meets his Iranian relatives for the first time, gets to know his grandparents, eats absolutely all the delicious amazing holiday food. oh oh. I had such a good time. (I don't want to sound like I demand ownvoices authors walk white people thru their culture, but I really loved learning about this and soaking up all the explanations and the "touristy" perspective of the sights they went to see.) And Darius' grandma is sooo nice. I just loved how they all said "I love you" so often and it was so special and close omg. And his parents loved each other and Darius has an epic ball of sparkles for a little sister (I listened to the audio so I don't know how to write her name haha). Who he loves!! Yay for big brothers taking care of their smol sisters! ➸ And the friendship between Darius and Sohrab was amazing.I think it was softly coded queer (as in Darius was questioning?) but it mostly focused on how he felt he had his first true friend with Sohrab, how they could be themselves and it was okay.It was such a soft and loving story about friendship and family and figuring out how you fit in the world. There's this one part where Sohrab says "We have a saying in Farsi. It translates ‘your place was empty.’ We say it when we miss somebody." And I love that. And it's not just Darius finding his place amongst his Persian family, but he's finding his place just being HIM.
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  • Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsA solid YA novel I would recommend to fans of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda . Darius the Great Is Not Okay did not blow me away, but I appreciated several parts of it, in particular its emphasis on Persian/Iranian culture, its careful portrayal of depression, and its focus on friendship. With the awful current political climate, Adib Khorram's rendering of Iran felt like a much needed respite from the racist and problematic images we receive from mainstream media. Khorram's depicti 3.5 starsA solid YA novel I would recommend to fans of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda . Darius the Great Is Not Okay did not blow me away, but I appreciated several parts of it, in particular its emphasis on Persian/Iranian culture, its careful portrayal of depression, and its focus on friendship. With the awful current political climate, Adib Khorram's rendering of Iran felt like a much needed respite from the racist and problematic images we receive from mainstream media. Khorram's depiction of Darius's depression felt intentional and authentic too, such as how we see him struggle with excessive rumination right on the page. Finally, I liked the friendship between Darius and Sohrab. So rarely we do get to see soft, tender friendships between two young men, especially one that does not turn explicitly romantic, so I found their connection wonderful.Similar to how I felt about Simon, I wanted more depth from this novel. While I liked Darius and Sohrab's frienship, I felt like their conversations could have been longer, or more disclosing even. Sohran has an immense impact on Darius, so I wished for more content to explain that impact, beyond basic validation and vulnerability (see the relationship in Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe for an example, supported by beautiful writing too.) I also wanted more depth from Darius's relationship with his dad. While their relationship had nicely written tension throughout the book, the one scene that resolved that tension felt too neat - I wanted more content that addressed masculinity, intricate father and son dynamics, or how mental illness can make us mean to the people we love. Despite these qualms, I still liked this novel and would recommend it tot those intrigued by its synopsis. While the book did not move my heart too much, it makes a nice addition to the YA genre.
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  • Katie B
    January 1, 1970
    Darius Kellner is what he likes to call a Fractional Persian as his mother was born and raised in Iran but his dad is white. Although he has a nightly ritual of watching Star Trek reruns with his father, the rest of the time Darius feels like he is a big disappointment to his dad. The family makes a trip to Iran to visit relatives and there Darius meets Sohrab, the teenage neighbor of his grandparents. This is a YA story of feeling like you don't belong and learning to accept who you are.I reall Darius Kellner is what he likes to call a Fractional Persian as his mother was born and raised in Iran but his dad is white. Although he has a nightly ritual of watching Star Trek reruns with his father, the rest of the time Darius feels like he is a big disappointment to his dad. The family makes a trip to Iran to visit relatives and there Darius meets Sohrab, the teenage neighbor of his grandparents. This is a YA story of feeling like you don't belong and learning to accept who you are.I really enjoyed the author's subtle approach in regards to certain topics which in my opinion makes it stand out among other books in the genre. I don't think everything always has to be spelled out for the reader or every loose end wrapped up in order to appreciate a story. By far the thing I loved most about the book was the focus on culture and the role it played in Darius feeling like he just didn't quite belong. I liked how the book explored the different relationships Darius had with family members and thought having not just Darius but his father also deal with mental health issues really added to the story. Definitely recommend especially if you are looking to hear from a voice that isn't commonly represented in fiction. Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.
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  • Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
    January 1, 1970
    WOW OKAY I liked this a heckin’ ton. This is the first book I’ve ever read with an Iranian mc and I learned so many things about the culture that I never knew before! It was also just really well written and I will without a doubt read everything Khorram publishes in the future. So good!
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  • Em Lost In Books
    January 1, 1970
    I used to stay away from YA but this year it's a different story. I have read many YA books this year, so I can safely says that I am not averse this genre as I used to be 2-3 years ago. I saw this book making rounds on my GR home page repeatedly and one fine Saturday I caved in and started reading this. I have to confess, to me blurb without "Iran" is the avg blurb that I read for this genre. This story revolves around Darius who is on his first visit to Iran to visit his ailing maternal grand I used to stay away from YA but this year it's a different story. I have read many YA books this year, so I can safely says that I am not averse this genre as I used to be 2-3 years ago. I saw this book making rounds on my GR home page repeatedly and one fine Saturday I caved in and started reading this. I have to confess, to me blurb without "Iran" is the avg blurb that I read for this genre. This story revolves around Darius who is on his first visit to Iran to visit his ailing maternal grand father. If the feeling like an outsider in his own family is subtle back in America, here that feeling is overwhelming. He is perhaps the only kid in Yzad who is on medication for depression or at least that's how he felt. His first time in a new country, language barrier, cultural difference, this was too much for Darius. But in this new country he also find a friend in Sohrab. He is easy to talk, and which helps Darius to bring out of his shell.But I think it is the father-son relationship in this book that I loved the most. Both are on medication for depression. Darius always thought that his father is ashamed of him because of his obesity, depression and that's why he keeps an hawk eye on his eating habits. He is ashamed of Daruis's depression. Being in Yzad brought these together and broke the ice that they both had felt previously. It was cute to see the duo interacting.I don't know why this is under the lgbt shelf. Sure Darius and Shorab are close but it was never said that they like each other romantically. They loved and cared deeply for each other but that is also friendship. I don't know why a story about two boys must be put in lgbt shelf. Anyways this was a lovely coming of age story. Give it a try when you want to read a YA which is not all about America.
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  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    January 1, 1970
    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/There are no bells and whistles for this one. Some books don’t need them. Darius the Great Is Not Okay is the story of a young boy who takes a trip to Iran with his family when they discover his grandfather is terminally ill. It’s about finding a place in the world when you feel like you’re nothing but a social outcast. More importantly, it’s about clinical depression. And it is DONE. SO. WELL. You can tell the author struggles/has str Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/There are no bells and whistles for this one. Some books don’t need them. Darius the Great Is Not Okay is the story of a young boy who takes a trip to Iran with his family when they discover his grandfather is terminally ill. It’s about finding a place in the world when you feel like you’re nothing but a social outcast. More importantly, it’s about clinical depression. And it is DONE. SO. WELL. You can tell the author struggles/has struggled personally. Someone who has not dealt with the lying liar who lies which is depression might find Darius to be a bit of a pill – overly sensitive and quick to take offense – the kind of boy certain members of society would refer to as a “Snowflake.” I’ll admit there were moments when, despite my best efforts, even I felt that way too and in my head I was screaming “PLEASE JUST TALK!!!” or “THEY DIDN’T MEAN TO HURT YOUR FEELINGS.” But . . . . . Sometimes making it impossible to break out of the spiral.My only “complaint” with this story was that Darius was presented as an older teen, complete with job, but he read more like a middle-grader. That’s the age group I’d recommend this book to. My other “complaint” (for lack of a better word) has to do with the shelving of this book as “LGBT.” I’m assuming it stems from the following: “Did you ever think that you wouldn’t get picked on so much if you weren’t so …”“So what, Dad?” But he didn’t answer. What could he possibly say. If readers want to fill in that blank with “gay” it’s certainly their priority, but it could easily be filled in with “nerdy” or “mopey” or “awkward” or “unsocial” or on and on and on. I read plenty of coming of age/first love/what-have-you stories – this wasn’t one.
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  • abby
    January 1, 1970
    Darius Kellner isn't sure he fits in anywhere. At school, he's the Fractional Persian, the kid who sticks out as being just a bit different. At home, he struggles to connect with his dad, who is Zero Persian but rather a blond Teutonic ideal. He doesn't speak Farsi like his mom and little sister. Even the way he makes tea seems called into question.But when his grandfather is diagnosed with a brain tumor, Darius is thrown into his most fish-out-of-water situation yet: Iran. He is in a country wh Darius Kellner isn't sure he fits in anywhere. At school, he's the Fractional Persian, the kid who sticks out as being just a bit different. At home, he struggles to connect with his dad, who is Zero Persian but rather a blond Teutonic ideal. He doesn't speak Farsi like his mom and little sister. Even the way he makes tea seems called into question.But when his grandfather is diagnosed with a brain tumor, Darius is thrown into his most fish-out-of-water situation yet: Iran. He is in a country where he doesn't understand the customs of know anyone-- not really even the family he's there to visit and has only spoken to through a computer screen. But in this strange world comes Darius's first real friend and a greater understanding of who he is. He might live up to his great namesake after all.I would call this book a "quiet contemporary." The story is entirely character driven. I really enjoyed this. I did think Darius was a little too hard on his dad and it was weird the way he refered to him as a Ubermensch. I think this is being marketed as LGBT but there is only the vaugest hint of that. This is a simple, sweet coming of age story set in a culture rarely written about in English.Thank you to Bookish First for providing me with an advanced copy of this book.
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  • Vitor Martins
    January 1, 1970
    Essa é a história de um garoto metade americano, metade persa, viajando para o Irã com a família pela primeira vez para conhecer os seus avós. Lá ele confronta muito a sua auto percepção e pela primeira vez na vida sente que pertence a uma família. Eu jamais imaginaria que eu me identificaria TANTO com o Darius. Em diversas cenas eu tinha quase certeza que eu SOU o Darius. E isso acontece porque ele é um personagem real, e personagens reais são aqueles que fogem do seu plot e se apresentam para Essa é a história de um garoto metade americano, metade persa, viajando para o Irã com a família pela primeira vez para conhecer os seus avós. Lá ele confronta muito a sua auto percepção e pela primeira vez na vida sente que pertence a uma família. Eu jamais imaginaria que eu me identificaria TANTO com o Darius. Em diversas cenas eu tinha quase certeza que eu SOU o Darius. E isso acontece porque ele é um personagem real, e personagens reais são aqueles que fogem do seu plot e se apresentam para o leitor de todas as suas formas. Éuma história sobre a origem histórica de Darius e sua família, mas isso não impede de mostrar o protagonista como um adolescente tímido, acima do peso, hiper-consciente em relação ao seu corpo nem gordo nem magro (e ao seu cabelo nem comprido nem curto), com uma relação complicada com seu pai, tímido demais para falar sobre sua sexualidade mas seguro o bastante para conseguir defini-la e tentando da melhor forma que pode lidar com a depressão, principalmente quando é questionado sobre o que de tão ruim aconteceu para que ele ficasse deprimido e não saber o que responder porque nada de muito ruim aconteceu de fato.Por isso tudo eu me vi no Darius.A relação de amizade que ele desenvolve com Sohrab ao longo do livro é daquelas que eu tenho certeza que vou lembrar por muito tempo. É lindo de ler e me fez chorar diversas vezes. A complexidade das relações familiares são muito bem trabalhadas e como a narrativa acontece toda dentro da cabeça de Darius, a gente consegue enxergar cada nuance dos sentimentos dele, mesmo quando ele é tímido e inseguro ao ponto de não conseguir expressá-los para o leitor. A gente entende Darius e é impossível não se importar com ele. A depressão é tratada de uma maneira muito honesta e responsável, talvez o melhor livro YA sobre depressão clínica que eu já li (e eu já li vários). A nota final do autor foi tudo que eu precisava para amar este livro mais ainda.Enquanto lia os capítulos finais, deitado na cama e chorando ao lado do meu namorado enquanto ele fazia carinho na minha cabeça porque é isso que ele faz quando eu tô chorando por causa de livro, já que ele sabe que não é um choro SÉRIO mas ao mesmo tempo eu estou SENTINDO COISAS, eu comentei com ele sobre como eu tenho dificuldade de lidar com despedidas. Acho que nem a morte de personagens queridos me afeta tanto quanto personagens se despedindo sem a certeza de quando vão se ver de novo. Porque fica no ar aquela mistura de tristeza com gratidão e eu acho que é isso que eu sinto agora, me despedindo dessa história e desses personagens. Aprendi com o livro que existe uma expressão em pársi que significa "O seu lugar estava vazio" e eles dizem isso quando sentem saudades de alguém mas também serve para quando alguém aparece na sua vida e é como se houvesse um lugar só pra ela, esperando para ser preenchido. Estou feliz que o lugar de Darius na minha lista de personagens favoritos não está mais vazio. (estou chorando kk eu sou RIDÍCULO. leiam esse livro!!!!!!!!)
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  • ✨ jamieson ✨
    January 1, 1970
    I liked this a lot, my rating is somewhere between a 3 and 4 star I'm still deciding. The focus on friendship and anxieties around culture/diaspora was really interesting. I've never read a book set in Iran so that element had me so interested throughout. The depression rep is also GREAT. Just overall great rep here. (This is ownvoices Persian & depression rep I believe)The only thing I didn't LOVE was that I thought the characters could have been more fleshed out, especially Sohrab and Lale I liked this a lot, my rating is somewhere between a 3 and 4 star I'm still deciding. The focus on friendship and anxieties around culture/diaspora was really interesting. I've never read a book set in Iran so that element had me so interested throughout. The depression rep is also GREAT. Just overall great rep here. (This is ownvoices Persian & depression rep I believe)The only thing I didn't LOVE was that I thought the characters could have been more fleshed out, especially Sohrab and Laleh. But at the same time this was a pretty short book so I get there isn't heaps of time. I definitely recommend this though, especially if you're interested in friendship and family dynamics. Psa though: this does not have queer rep for people thinking it did!
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  • Corey
    January 1, 1970
    As I've gotten older, I've developed a curiosity about/longing for connection to my Persian heritage that I didn't have as a younger person. I couldn't tell you where exactly this sudden interest came from, but I have lately found myself following the news about Iran, and asking my grandparents about the old country, and, of course, reading a lot of novels by Iranian-American authors. What I'm trying to say, in short, is that I was primed to like this book. I'd heard about it months ago, when th As I've gotten older, I've developed a curiosity about/longing for connection to my Persian heritage that I didn't have as a younger person. I couldn't tell you where exactly this sudden interest came from, but I have lately found myself following the news about Iran, and asking my grandparents about the old country, and, of course, reading a lot of novels by Iranian-American authors. What I'm trying to say, in short, is that I was primed to like this book. I'd heard about it months ago, when the author was awarded a six-figure advance by Dial, and when my girlfriend managed to get her hands on a galley*, I dove into it almost right away. But the book, unfortunately, is bad. And not, mind you, bad in a failed-to-meet-expectations way (it's bad in that way too, but more to the point), but bad in a "show-don't-tell," Creative Writing 101 way. DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY by Adib Khorram follows the story of Darius, a teenager living in Washington state, born to an Iranian mother and a white father. Darius is a self-identified Treckie, and in stereotypically Treckie fashion, falls prey to the usual social pitfalls: he's picked on by his classmates in school, he has a difficult time making friends, and he is frustrated over and over by his own inability to read (as he refers to them with annoying frequency) "Social Cues"**. The first third of the book is spent establishing Darius' social ineptitude, and of course, his Persianness. And here enters one of the author's greatest failings in this novel: it's as though instead of building a convincing, three-dimensional character by perfecting a voice and ascribing to that character compelling idiosyncrasies, and establishing the character's nuanced worldview, Khorram has seen fit to simply make the character Persian.Indeed, the most interesting thing about Darius is that he's Persian. His obsession with tea, his longing to learn Farsi, his takes on Nowruz and Persian cuisine... such are the dubious foundations on which Darius is constructed. Take away the Persianness, and who is Darius? Well, for an idea, let's take a look at a typical conversation had by Darius and another character:"Did you have a nice time, maman?" [My grandmother asked me]"Yeah. Um. Babou showed me Darius the first.""Where your name came from."I nodded."I wish you had seen it sooner. I wish you lived here.""Really?""Yes, of course. I miss you. And I wish you could know your family history better. You know, for Yazdis, family history is very important.""Um."*** Without his Persianness, in other words, Darius is a socially isolated, monosyllabic, and not-very-well-defined character. Which is not only a writerly failing on Khorram's part, but somewhat sociopolitically problematic. I am, on the one hand, cheered by the proliferation of Iranian-American literature since the advent of the Trump era, and on the other hand, a little concerned by the commoditization and solidification of the Iranian-American identity, of which Khorram seems guilty here****.With his Persian identity and his extreme social awkwardness established, then, it is quickly learned that Darius' grandfather (still living in Iran) has a terminal brain tumor and is quickly approaching the end of his life. In the span of 20 or so pages, Darius' mother decides to take the family to her hometown of Yazd for a week, so that the children can meet their grandfather before he passes.This potentially rich and moving plotline, however, turns out to be a McGuffin for the real story at the heart of DARIUS THE GREAT, in which Darius finally finds a friend in Sohrab, his grandfather's neighbor's child. Sohrab is a charming, athletic boy around Darius' age, with a winning smile (repeatedly referred to as a "squint"). Sohrab is nonetheless socially outcast due to local prejudice against Bahá'ís as well as the fact that his father was taken political prisoner during the Green Revolution protests that took place several years before the novel is set. After a meet-cute involving a post-soccer-game shower*****, Sohrab and Darius find themselves "joined at the shoulder," and (without any spoilers), the most probable narrative arc unfolds from there: there are confidences, moments of adorable whimsy, fights and reconciliations. In other words, not exactly the kind of stakes that are going to blow anyone away.The novel is, in short, a fluff piece, easy to read and easy to forget. Which might be fine if the prose wasn't so clumsy and poorly composed. See, for instance, Khorram's habit of using unnecessary line breaks to make overly simple thoughts sound profound******. Or the annoying repetition of certain phrases, which are again presumably supposed to make up for the lack of work done to characterize Darius (see especially, "That's normal./Right?" and "Soulless Minions of Orthdoxy," which is how Darius refers to bullies and is amusing the first time but less so the two-dozenth time).Again, it's not that the book is bad relative to other published novels. It's that the book is so bad, it's difficult to understand how exactly it got published in the first place. It's repetitive and clumsily written and, despite the large font size and generous spacing of the physical text, somehow a chore to read--it took me weeks to get through this. And moreover, there's a hollowness and empty sentimentality at the novel's core that not only fails to make any meaning of the Persian-American experience, but makes the reader feel kind of sad and betrayed at the hands of Khorram.So, if you're looking for a good Persian-American novel in this age of American hostility towards Middle Easterners, might I direct you to Porochista Khakpour's brilliant Sons and Other Flammable Objects?*A request is made at the beginning of the galley to note somewhere in any reviews of the book that my copy was an uncorrected proof, so consider that noted.**Darius spends so much time thinking about whether certain utterances or actions of those around him are "Social Cues" (capitalization sic), that the reader occasionally wonders whether or not Darius is on the Spectrum, but there's no definitive evidence one way or the other. (Likely, it's simply a failure of Khorram's to develop Darius' voice: in general, one of the things that irked me about the book is the way Khoram totally failed to nail the voice of the contemporary American teenager. Darius is supposed to be about 14 or 15, but he often comes off sounding about three or four years younger).***Not to harp on the possible-autism thing, but Darius is more or less this non-verbal throughout the novel, again making one wonder... ****Not to mention the slightly offensive and patronizing attitude of the publishing industry through all of it; I very much doubt this novel would have earned its six-figure advance had the 2016 US Presidential election turned out differently.*****Another thing that's left frustratingly opaque is the homoerotic tension between Darius and Sohrab. It's never said explicitly that Darius is queer, but there are a few heavily suggestive moments. There is, for instance, the aforementioned shower scene, in which Sohrab and a few other boys make fun of Darius' uncircumcised penis. This is in addition to the curious frequency with which S and D get touchy-feely with each other (Sohrab is perpetually putting his arm around Darius' shoulder) and the endless physical descriptions of Sohrab related to the reader by Darius (e.g., "He was kicking his soccer ball around... barefoot and shirtless. Sweat plastered his short hair to his temples, and the nape of his neck.") And finally, there's a "resources" page at the end of the novel, directing readers to organizations like The Trevor Project and The Trans Lifeline... Khoram might have been able to pull off this ambiguity (again, not un-problematic, considering the perils of being queer in Iran's Islamic Republic) had the rest of the novel contained any kind of nuance. DARIUS, though, is otherwise as subtle as a seizure.*****Literally thumbing through the book at random here, e.g.: "He felt safe with me/Maybe that's the thing I liked about Sohrab best of all," "Mom was calling me by my Iranian name/I wished she would make up her mind,"That night, Dad didn't tell me he loved me/I didn't tell him either."
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  • Lily ☁️
    January 1, 1970
    Malanie said that this book reminds her of me, because it is “friendship, cleverness, and fluffy wholesomeness, which = Lily’s vibe”, so you bet I’m going to read it!!And if I don’t love this, I might as well crawl into a dark hole somewhere far away from civilization, where no one can find me (which incidentally suits me just fine, because uni starts next week).Blog | Bloglovin’ | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter
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  • Rachel Strolle
    January 1, 1970
    It's been longer than normal since I've read a book in one sitting. And god, this one is certainly a one-sitting read. Filled to the brim with heart, Khorram's debut shines on every single page. It made me laugh and cry within one scene. This was my most anticipated 2018 release and it was so worthy of that.
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  • Romie
    January 1, 1970
    “You're okay,” he murmured.“No. I'm not.”“I know.” He rubbed my back up and down. “It's okay not to be okay.”I was a bit scared going into this book, because what if I ended up being the only human being not liking it? But, fortunately for me, I ended up really liking this beautiful story.It's a story that deals with so many important subjects: friendship, grief, clinical depression, the feeling of not belonging or being enough, and love between a father and son who don't really know how to talk “You're okay,” he murmured.“No. I'm not.”“I know.” He rubbed my back up and down. “It's okay not to be okay.”I was a bit scared going into this book, because what if I ended up being the only human being not liking it? But, fortunately for me, I ended up really liking this beautiful story.It's a story that deals with so many important subjects: friendship, grief, clinical depression, the feeling of not belonging or being enough, and love between a father and son who don't really know how to talk. This book is important.I loved Darius with all my heart. I, a French-Vietnamese woman, identified with this sweet fat biracial American-Iranian boy suffering from clinical depression. The fact that Darius dealt with so many of the things I had to deal with while growing up and still do now nearly made me cry a few times. As someone who grew up fat, with clinical depression, as someone who had to deal with racism because I'm biracial, I saw so much of myself in Darius. And then there's the fact that, even though it's not expressly said, Darius is gay, and it plays in the story. Darius is an extremely interesting character with a personality of his own.The way this book deals with clinical depression is absolutely amazing. Both Darius and his dad suffer from it, and I think it's one of the best representations I've ever read. It's extremely hard to find a book that makes me feel like my own clinical depression is not just something that's happening to me. This book gave me not one, but two characters, who talk about mental health and have to deal with their depression daily. The fact that they even talk about it together was overwhelming. I'm so so thankful for this representation.The family aspect of this book was incredible as well. Darius, his mom, dad and little sister go to Iran because his grandfather is suffering from a brain tumor and they don't know how long he still has to live. Darius goes there for the very first time, which means it's also the first time he gets to meet his family in real life: his granddad, his grandmom, uncles, aunts, cousins... a multitude of people he only used to know via skype are now in front of him. I loved the relationship he had with his grandmother, it was so sweet and genuine. I loved how we got to see the relationship between Darius and his dad evolve, how they learnt so much about each other while in Iran.This review is a mess, and I'm truly sorry about it. I just don't know how to put all my thoughts together when it comes to this book, I wish I could.4.25
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  • Inge
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsTook me a second to get into, but god, that depression rep was in-credible.
  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    “It’s okay not to be okay.”Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram gives readers a look into a world rarely seen in YA fiction. A world I really enjoyed learning about. Persian culture is the star of this book. Foods, stories, traditions, social cues, places, and more all come to life through the eyes of young Darius.Darius (Darioush) Kellner, who is half Persian on his mother’s side, is visiting Iran for the first time in his life. His grandfather (Babou) is sick, so the family sets off fo “It’s okay not to be okay.”Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram gives readers a look into a world rarely seen in YA fiction. A world I really enjoyed learning about. Persian culture is the star of this book. Foods, stories, traditions, social cues, places, and more all come to life through the eyes of young Darius.Darius (Darioush) Kellner, who is half Persian on his mother’s side, is visiting Iran for the first time in his life. His grandfather (Babou) is sick, so the family sets off for Iran to spend time with him. Darius has no idea what to expect. He doesn’t feel like he fits in here in America where kids tease and bully him because of his ethnicity. Will he fit in in Iran? Darius doesn’t feel like he has a place anywhere—sports, school, or even his family. Laleh, his younger sister, speaks better Farsi than he does. And Darius’s Dad seems to be disappointed in him more and more. Maybe Darius can find a way to feel at home with himself by learning more about where his family comes from.The Persian setting shines the brightest for me here. I loved learning the new words, places, and foods. The foods!!! Qottab (pastry), tokhmeh, bastani (ice cream!), sabzi, doogh, and more! I stopped again and again to look up pictures and descriptions of colorful foods, historic landmarks, and stories. It really sparked a fire in me to learn more. The other highlight for me was Darius’s relationship with his father—Stephen Kellner. Their tense and fragile father and son relationship was filled with worry and silence and miscommunication. Their only stress free time together seemed to be their nightly tradition of watching an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Haha…Which pulled a smile across my face. I used to watch the original series with my Dad. But even that small connection was breaking and changing with Darius and his father. Will they ever learn to talk to each other? Maybe a trip to Iran is just what they need. Darius gets to see his Dad in a new light and land. They both begin to see each other in new ways. And when the fears and words start coming out, it truly touched my heart. I loved so many things about Darius’s journey—his new love for “soccer/non-American football”, his relationship with his sister, and his new friendship and feelings for Sohrab….“The thing is, I never had a friend like Sohrab before. One who understood me without even trying. Who knew what it was like to be stuck on the outside because of one little thing that set you apart.”I do have a few wishes though. I wish we heard more about why Darius’s mother hadn’t been home in 17 years or more stories and time with Babou or more about Sohrab’s father. But, at the same time, I know this wasn’t their story. This is Darius’s story. And I loved it! Maybe we will hear more from all of them. I hope so.This quiet story with a quiet, almost peaceful style will reel you into a world like no other. A world filled with Star Trek, “Um”s, tea, football, emotion, family, and friends. There were hints of Darius’s sexuality but I would really call this a pre-coming out story. For me, this was a story about finding yourself in the world through your history. And a story that lets readers know that not being okay at times is okay. Just keep looking for your place in your own heart, family, and world. I found hope and love in Darius’s story. Hopefully you will too.Highly recommended. Go spend time with Darius and his family. Or as Captain Picard would say--Make it so!p.s.I loved this little line---“Your place was empty for me too.”A little backstory to that line….”We have a saying in Farsi. It translates ‘your place was empty.’ We say it when we miss somebody.” *sigh* So sweet and simple. I love it!**Quotes taken from ARC**
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  • Eloise
    January 1, 1970
    This was absolutely not what I thought it would be... But it doesn't mean it was bad (I think?).For some reason I picked it up thinking it would be an m/m romance. It isn't.And I am stating this straight away because I was led to believe it was, and i felt almost disappointed when some phrases were suggesting queerness but it was never stated as such. I don't want you to be disappointed. I don't want you going in to this book expecting boys falling in love. That's not what this is about.This is This was absolutely not what I thought it would be... But it doesn't mean it was bad (I think?).For some reason I picked it up thinking it would be an m/m romance. It isn't.And I am stating this straight away because I was led to believe it was, and i felt almost disappointed when some phrases were suggesting queerness but it was never stated as such. I don't want you to be disappointed. I don't want you going in to this book expecting boys falling in love. That's not what this is about.This is the story of Darius. He is half Persian but doesn't feel connected to his Persian family or culture; he is clinically depressed and on medication; he is overweight and bullied at school; he shares nothing with his dad except depression; and he suddenly needs to spend a couple of weeks in Iran with his mother's family, which he knows almost nothing about, because his grandfather has a brain tumor.It's about a teenage boy fighting to understand who he is and who his family is and where he belongs. For him to understand that he DOES belong.And he just so happens to find himself a best friend as well.I loved the complexity of the characters and their relationships. It felt so very real that this big family says and does hurtful things but all in all they love each other. They learn to understand each other and respect one another. Every single character says, does and feels good AND bad things, which makes them the best fleshed characters i've read in quite a while.The mental health elements felt perfectly handled and the author's note at the end explains exactly why.I also appreciated how much Persian / Iranian culture was in this book. I learnt a lot but it didn't feel like an educational schoolbook either, it was done perfectly.The writing style was similar to Benjamin Alire Saenz' style in Aristotle and Dante (my love). Simple phrases, short chapters, a bit of vagueness and a lot of introspection. Also dealing with mental health and trying to understand your family and their origins, all while finally finding your first real friend.I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about Darius' queerness being very lightly implied but never actually stated... Why is everyone adding it to ther lgbtq+ lists when... It's not?I was thinking of knocking it down to 3 stars but I believe it isn't completely the author's fault if everyone assumed it would be gay when it wasn't... (unless that's how he sold it, in which case... NO).------------------------------------------“Darioush,” Sohrab said. “Are you stuck?” “Huh?” “You said sometimes you get stuck. Thinking something sad.” “Oh.” I swallowed and pulled at the tassels of my hoodie. “It’s nothing.” “Come on.” Sohrab pulled me up to my feet. “I won’t let you be stuck anymore.”------------------------------------------
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  • Gemma ♕ Books_McCoy
    January 1, 1970
    This book is absolutely beautiful. It a fantastic look at the effects of depression not just on the person going through it but on the people around them too. "Suicide isn't the only way you can lose someone to depression."Truer words were never spoken. Dante and his father had lost each other, both suffering under the same thing in different ways. Watching the struggle of their relationship had me on the verge of tears a lot and I’m not ashamed to admit that there were a couple of times where I This book is absolutely beautiful. It a fantastic look at the effects of depression not just on the person going through it but on the people around them too. "Suicide isn't the only way you can lose someone to depression."Truer words were never spoken. Dante and his father had lost each other, both suffering under the same thing in different ways. Watching the struggle of their relationship had me on the verge of tears a lot and I’m not ashamed to admit that there were a couple of times where I cried outright. This book is powerful and heartbreaking and honest. I loved learning all about Persian culture alongside Dante and watching a friendship bloom between him and Sohrab. It was so nice to see Dante start to come out of himself with Sohrab and learn what it means to have a friend. When Sohrab’s father was killed it was like a punch to the gut because not only did it show the struggles of life in Iran but also it showed that when we are hurting, we always seem to lash out at those we love the most. That whole scene with Sohrab and Dante made me so unbelievably sad and I’m so glad that when Dante returned to the US, he and Sohrab were able to maintain friends. It was also great to see him start to be more sure of himself thanks to spending time with Sohrab so that when he went home, he felt like he could get back into “soccer” *British shudder :P* and we even saw that he was starting to let his walls down and there was a possibility of a friendship forming between him and one of his classmates. My favourite thing about this book though, is the evolving relationship between Dante and his father. Watching them drift further away from each other, before struggling back to each other; seeing the fear his dad had for him; understanding where that fear comes from…so beautifully done and really gets you right in the feels!I highly, highly recommend this book 😊************Oh man...this book was so beautiful and emotional. RTC.
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  • Kiera
    January 1, 1970
    5 stars.Summary from GoodreadsDarius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He's about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it's pretty overwhelming--especially when he's also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom's family for the first time. And he meets Soh 5 stars.Summary from GoodreadsDarius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He's about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it's pretty overwhelming--especially when he's also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom's family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what's going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understands that sometimes, best friends don't have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he's spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi skyline.Sohrab calls him Darioush--the original Persian version of his name--and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he's Darioush to Sohrab. When it's time to go home to America, he'll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.My thoughtsI've been wanting to read this book for a while and I'm so glad that I finally did. Darius the Great is not Okay is such a good book.What I lovedThis is a book about friendship, going into it I thought that there was going to be a romance between the two characters but, there wasn't and I'm not disappointed. I liked how it was just a friendship and there wasn't a romance between the two characters.The two characters, Darius and Sohrab are very enjoyable, they play football (soccer) together and they spend a lot of time with each other. The two boys have this beautiful friendship that develops throughout the story."Sohrab was hurting and there was nothing I could do. Nothing except sit there and be his friend. But maybe that was enough. Because Sohrab knew it was okay to cry in front of me. He knew I wouldn't tell him not to have feelings."This is such a beautiful book. I love the humor and the writing style. I got to explore so much Iranian culture while reading this book, it was fastinating.Our main character and his father deals with depression and the book explores how depression can be handled and how depression can affect you. I thought these themes were well represented in this book."'I know.' He rubbed my back up and down. 'It's okay not to be okay,'"Overall I aboslutely loved Darius The Great is Not Okay. It made my laugh and it made my cry. This is such a good book about family and friendship.
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  • Faith (BookSelf ~ You Are What You Read)
    January 1, 1970
    I received this ARC from Dial Books via BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way."It's okay not to be okay."Okay, so this was strangely really relevant to my entire life. And to my family reunion vacation I was on as I read this. Creepy.Thing number one: Darius is a Fractional Persian who doesn't speak Farsi and goes to Iran for the first time. I'm half Chilean, have never been to Chile, and don't speak Spanish.Thing number two: Darius struggles w I received this ARC from Dial Books via BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way."It's okay not to be okay."Okay, so this was strangely really relevant to my entire life. And to my family reunion vacation I was on as I read this. Creepy.Thing number one: Darius is a Fractional Persian who doesn't speak Farsi and goes to Iran for the first time. I'm half Chilean, have never been to Chile, and don't speak Spanish.Thing number two: Darius struggles with depression and friendships. My entire life I've had friend issues, and recently (last night actually), I was even talking to my sister and her husband about this very topic.Thing number three: Darius has a grandfather who he cannot really connect to who is terminally ill. While not my grandfather, and not someone I never met in person (I actually grew up going to his house every summer), my mom's brother in law is grandfather aged and a very similar person to Babou, which made my heart just seize every time he was on the page. And I was literally with my Tío last night. Creepy, right?Now, here's some things that are more book review and less me talking about how Adib Khorram might be my stalker.The book is written in a pretty unique, voice heavy narrative style that I really liked but sometimes got a tiny bit in my nerves tbh. It's a debut though so I'll let it slide.The plot was good, I was really invested, and it read quickly. If I hadn't been at a family reunion, I could have read it in one sitting.Darius is (as previously made clear) pretty darn relatable. He's awkward and self deprecating, but quirky and likes science fiction and fantasy, particularly Star Trek and The Lord of the Rings.I loved Mamou!!!!! She's an angel and I want her to be my grandma! She's warm! She listens to ABBA! She's perfect!The one thing I didn't like about this was the instalove friendship (with some borderline homoerotic elements). If you wanted to write a book about homosexuality, you totally could have, Adib. The market is definitely there. Why can't guys just be friends? I love friends. I love healthy platonic relationships in literature, because I struggle with healthy platonic relationships. I want a realistic portrayal of fast friends. I don't want insta-friendship. That's "you just have to wait for Mr. Right" ideology and it never works.All in all, freaking fantastic, but not something that will necessarily astound you tbh. It's great. It's more than okay.
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  • Dahlia
    January 1, 1970
    It took me a little while to get into the writing, which is very fourth-wall breaking, but at some point, about the main character's vulnerability and the deep love for the setting and getting to see Iran in a different light from the usual portrayals and the incredible depression rep and the wonderful friendship, I just found myself utterly beguiled. In case you can't tell, this debut has a lot going for it, including the way it just dips its toe into the main character questioning his sexualit It took me a little while to get into the writing, which is very fourth-wall breaking, but at some point, about the main character's vulnerability and the deep love for the setting and getting to see Iran in a different light from the usual portrayals and the incredible depression rep and the wonderful friendship, I just found myself utterly beguiled. In case you can't tell, this debut has a lot going for it, including the way it just dips its toe into the main character questioning his sexuality. (I think it was the press materials that came with the ARC that call it a pre-coming out story, and that's pretty spot on, though to call it a queer book feels like pushing Darius out of the closet, or something.)There are a few books lately that've just done such a beautiful job chipping away at toxic masculinity, and I'm so glad to see this one among them.
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  • mina reads™️
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars This was a super solid YA contemporary and I really enjoyed it. It deals with mental health, cultural identity, toxic masculinity and complex relationships between family members. If you’d be interested in seeing more of my thoughts check out my latest video where I do a full review!!https://youtu.be/twKuV5OUy4s
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  • Vicky Who Reads
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 starsThis book did not let me down at all.I've been so excited for Darius the Great Is Not Okay for longer than I can remember, and this turned out to be just as stellar as I thought it would be!I mean, one of the greatest things about this book is that Khorram knows his writing style & what Darius' voice sounds like, and he isn't afraid to use it. Darius is such a unique protagonist and you can tell when he speaks just by his dialogue and how he says things.Darius is nerdy and awkward a 4.5 starsThis book did not let me down at all.I've been so excited for Darius the Great Is Not Okay for longer than I can remember, and this turned out to be just as stellar as I thought it would be!I mean, one of the greatest things about this book is that Khorram knows his writing style & what Darius' voice sounds like, and he isn't afraid to use it. Darius is such a unique protagonist and you can tell when he speaks just by his dialogue and how he says things.Darius is nerdy and awkward and maybe doesn't know who he is right now, but he'll definitely find out throughout the course of the book. Understanding who you are is hard and Darius will find parts of himself while he's in Iran with his family.Plus, Khorram isn't afraid to make Darius' narration unique as some of the parts within the chapter are shorter rather than one giant scene making up a chapter. There are little pieces, maybe only three or four paragraphs, that really help the reader get into Darius' headspace and also understand some of the Persian culture and Darius' history and background.I felt like Darius was such a relatable character. I usually have a harder time connecting with male narrators, but Darius was so relatable. I liked reading about his relationship with his dad and I was actually satisfied with where their relationship was left off, because his father pressures Darius a lot.You can see where both Darius and his father are wrong and right, and neither is completely wrong or completely right. It was an interesting experience to read how their dynamic shifted throughout the novel. I loved the rest of the family dynamics, especially the ones between Darius and his little sister (so cute!!!).What made this book really easy to relate for me, though, was how Darius felt like he was neither American or Iranian. I struggle with this myself because I'm Asian-American and I know what it feels like to go to another country where half your family lives and not understand the social cues or a word of what they're saying.The relationship Darius had with his father of being the only "outsiders" in Iran was something I related to very strongly, and I feel like the entire idea of being an outsider to your own culture, both in America and Asia, is something Khorram portrayed really well.It's honestly what made this book so wonderful for me. I could really relate to that feeling that Khorram captured, and I think anyone who has more than one culture (especially if you're not fluent in one cultures' language) will be able to relate to Darius' experiences.The only thing that I would have changed is just some of the plot. I wish it was more tangible and physical, just a couple of things to up the stakes, rather than the really large character-based nature of this book. I loved reading Darius' character, but I wish it was balanced out a little more with a physical plot.The nuanced nature of Darius' attraction to boys was something I really enjoyed. It's really subtle how Khorram kind of slips this in, and it's never explicit and nothing ever happens, but you get this tiny twinge. You know, but you also don't know.I think Darius and Sohrab had a wonderful friendship and parts of this book were definitely heartbreaking, but also rejuvenating. Like a good cry. Darius, to 'come of age' in a sense, has to go through the emotional wringer to get to that place where he's able to be the best Darius he can be.Overall, I really really loved reading this book and found it so relatable. It's equally humorous, heartbreaking, and heartwarming, and I definitely recommend it to all lovers of contemporary fiction. If you're not opposed to a very character-based plot, I definitely recommend you check this out! Also if you're one who's familiar with being a part of two cultures and not fitting into either.Thank you so much to Penguin Teen, Penguin Teen @ Book Con, and Penguin Teen + Bookish First for providing me with advance readers' copies in exchange for an honest review!PRE-REVIEWVicky is not okay. Why? Because this book sounds SO GOOD!!! Like, just read the summary and try to tell me that it doesn't sound kick-ass (spoiler: you can't!) Please be as excited as this as I am. A Persian teen who feels like he doesn't fit in and also loves The Hobbit & LoTR. I'M SCREAMING.Blog | Instagram | Twitter
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  • CW (The Quiet Pond) ✨
    January 1, 1970
    Here it is, friends. My 4th five-star rating of 2018: Darius the Great Is Not Okay.Darius the Great Is Not Okay made me cry on the bus and, given its raw and poignant writing, I am not even ashamed of it.- Follows biracial teen Darius, who goes to Iran to visit family he has never met before, and is about how he navigates his unfamiliar family landscape and his friendship with a boy named Sohrab.- It explores three things that I absolutely love: our bonds with people, identity, and mental health Here it is, friends. My 4th five-star rating of 2018: Darius the Great Is Not Okay.Darius the Great Is Not Okay made me cry on the bus and, given its raw and poignant writing, I am not even ashamed of it.- Follows biracial teen Darius, who goes to Iran to visit family he has never met before, and is about how he navigates his unfamiliar family landscape and his friendship with a boy named Sohrab.- It explores three things that I absolutely love: our bonds with people, identity, and mental health.- The family dynamics explored in this was amazing. I could relate to Darius's extended family abroad - the blurry duality of familiarity and unfamiliarity, the poor understanding of mental health, and discovering another part of identity. - Darius and his father's relationship may be one of the best father-son dynamics I've read in YA. - The relationship between Darius and Sohrab was great and so well-written - complex, vulnerable, and so earnest. - Darius and his father have depression, though it isn't central to the plot. The discussions of mental health, and how it is understood and its influence on the family is perhaps one of the best portrayals of mental health I have read in a long time. You all absolutely need to read this book. (I also highly recommend the audiobook, which was wonderfully told.)Trigger/content warning: (view spoiler)[depression, bullying, suicidal ideation, anti-fat comments (challenged), stigma against depression (challenged), racism (challenged) (hide spoiler)]
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  • Fadwa (Word Wonders)
    January 1, 1970
    Actual Rating: 4.5 stars*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange of an honest review*TW: Bullying, fatshaming, depression, terminal illness, death.Full review originally posted on my blog: Word Wonders Darius the Great is Not Okay, and I don't think I am either. THIS BOOK. It took me a while to read because of a slump but I think that at the end, it cured it. And I've had this page opened for at least a two weeks trying to find the words to write this review but it's bee Actual Rating: 4.5 stars*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange of an honest review*TW: Bullying, fatshaming, depression, terminal illness, death.Full review originally posted on my blog: Word Wonders Darius the Great is Not Okay, and I don't think I am either. THIS BOOK. It took me a while to read because of a slump but I think that at the end, it cured it. And I've had this page opened for at least a two weeks trying to find the words to write this review but it's been hard and even as I'm typing this now (Because i need this review up asap and i procrastinated enough for a lifetime oops) I'm not sure where my thoughts are going to take me or how they'll translate into coherent sentences. But the gist of it is, I loved this book. So much.The writing is quite simple and yet very beautiful and emotionally charged. Darius, the MC, is the type that feels a lot, he feels everything and isn't ashamed of his feelings, and that shows in his voice. I actually loved reading from his POV, how genuine, real and unfiltered his perspective is, which made the book all the better to read, even when he's struggling, even when life becomes too much.Darius the Great is Not Okay is very much a character driven story, there's no real linear plot to it but there is a lot of character growth, of self-discovery, family love, and all kinds of complicated relationships. I honestly loved reading from Darius' perspective so much, he has such an honest genuine voice that I know a lot of teens can relate to, especially depressed teens, heck, even I related to him a lot. He feels so much, all the time, and more often than not is overwhelmed by all his emotions and I really appreciated how okay he is with not being okay. Don't get me wrong, he struggles. A lot. But most of the time, he rolls with it, he doesn't try to repress his feelings or pretend he's Something he isn't and I think that's brave and something that teens with depression need to see. I felt like the whole message of this book can be summed up in one sentence: It's okay not to be okay. And that's something I needed when I read the book.The relationships in this book are amazing, every one of them, even the not so great ones. At the start of the book, Darius has never met his grandparents because they live back in Iran and he's never been so we actually get to witness him forming a bond and breaking down walls that were between them for the first time and that was so heartwarming, especially when it comes to his Mamou (grandma) whom I ABSOLUTELY adored, she's so soft and affectionate and makes sure to vocally let him know that he's loved and cared for. Then comes his relationship with his parents, his mom is a little bit like his Mamou, but then we have his dad with which things are a little more rocky. Well. A lot more rocky. Darius' dad also has depression and while they were very close when he was a child, there's a rift between them now that only seems to get bigger. His dad basically blames him for being bullied as well as fatshames him over and over. It's rought but I love how it was all so deep and complex and well handled.Then my favourite. The softest, cutest, best male friendship I've ever read. When he goes back to Iran, Darius meets his grandparents' neighbour, Sohrab, a boy his age with whom he forms an immediate bond. And I adored that there was no trace of toxic masculinity anywhere, both were so open and honest witth each other, never afraid of showing their emotions in front of each other, they basically becomes best friends in the span of a few weeks. Which reminds me, I've seen in quite a few places that Darius is gay, which, unless the author said it and I missed it, is stated nowhere in the book. I conceed that he is heavily queer coded but he reads more on the aroace spectrum than anything else. But again, no specific words are used in the book so no *official* representation, it's just coding, and someone else might read him differently.I would highly highly recommend Darius the great is not okay for anyone looking for fat and depression representation, and obviously Iranian too. But also. Really anyone who loves a good book exploring human relationships in a genuine way.
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  • Meags
    January 1, 1970
    4 StarsFeaturing a vivid cast of engaging characters, this contemporary coming-of-age story follows half American/half Persian teenager Darius, as he goes on a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance when he travels to Iran for the time ever with his family.Born to an Iranian mother and an American father, Darius has always struggled to fit in. At school he's regularly bullied for being different and at home he experiences a bit of a disconnect, especially to his father who seems to always 4 StarsFeaturing a vivid cast of engaging characters, this contemporary coming-of-age story follows half American/half Persian teenager Darius, as he goes on a journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance when he travels to Iran for the time ever with his family.Born to an Iranian mother and an American father, Darius has always struggled to fit in. At school he's regularly bullied for being different and at home he experiences a bit of a disconnect, especially to his father who seems to always hold Darius to impossible/unrealistic standards. When Darius's family decide to visit Iran for the first time, spurred on by the rapidly decaying health of his Persian grandfather, Darius gets to finally connect with his cultural roots, also forming new close bonds with his grandmother and a local boy named Sohrab along the way. This new and fascinating environment, paired with Darius's new experiences and relationships, help him face some of the causes of his more self-deprecating tendencies, all while helping him realise how worthy and how loved he truly is, exactly the way he is. Darius's time in Iran also brings him closer to his immediate family, shedding a light on his complex relationship with his father who shares Darius's diagnosis of clinical depression. (view spoiler)[Although Darius's father caused me some rage-y moments throughout the book, I was totally sucked into the inner workings of their dynamic. I was also deeply moved by the later scenes they shared when finally opening up to one another and acknowledging their feelings about their relationship and their personal experiences battling depression. (hide spoiler)]I really enjoyed this story. I was completely captivated by Darius as a character. He struggled with everything from mental health issues and body image issues, to acceptance of his cultural roots and sexual identity - all of which was handled impressively well and provided great insight into Darius as a layered, complex, and lovable human being. The journey he went on in this story was an emotional one, but one which was ultimately enriching and full of personal growth and self-acceptance.Darius the Great Is Not Okay was a truly enjoyable first offering from author Adib Khorram and I have every intention of keeping an eye out for his future works.*************************************Audio Edition:I listened to the audio edition of this story as performed by Michael Levi Harris. I thought he did a great job narrating this one, delivering distinct voices and believable accents for all the characters present. I’m unsure whether this was his first book narration or not, but I enjoyed Harris’s performance a great deal and would certainly be open to listening to more of his work in the future.
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