Darius the Great Is Not Okay
Darius doesn't think he'll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this unforgettable debut introduces a brilliant new voice in contemporary YA.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 understand 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, Lgbt

Darius the Great Is Not Okay Review

  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • may ➹
    January 1, 1970
    Penguin sent me a tea bag along with this book and if you think I have the faintest idea what to do with it you’re wrong(on a more relevant note: if I don’t love this book I will actually, physically cry)
  • 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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  • 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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  • Vicky Who Reads
    January 1, 1970
    4 starsThis was not okay. This was fantastic. I loved all of the reflection on Darius' character and the subtlety to his character development, as well as how sure Khorram is of Darius' voicw throughout the story. I only wished there was more physical plot vs. character.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 fe 4 starsThis was not okay. This was fantastic. I loved all of the reflection on Darius' character and the subtlety to his character development, as well as how sure Khorram is of Darius' voicw throughout the story. I only wished there was more physical plot vs. character.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.
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  • Kate Olson
    January 1, 1970
    Thanks to BookishFirst for this free review copy! This YA novel releases on 8.28.18 from @penguinteen and it 100% deserves a place on your Fall TBR..DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY is one of my favorite YA reads in recent history due to the following:* Heartbreakingly hilarious - Darius is the nerd of my high school dreams. His terminology and descriptions of being a Fractional Persian, his Star Trek and Lord of the Rings references and a million other things that make Darius so uniquely DARIUS jus Thanks to BookishFirst for this free review copy! This YA novel releases on 8.28.18 from @penguinteen and it 100% deserves a place on your Fall TBR..DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY is one of my favorite YA reads in recent history due to the following:* Heartbreakingly hilarious - Darius is the nerd of my high school dreams. His terminology and descriptions of being a Fractional Persian, his Star Trek and Lord of the Rings references and a million other things that make Darius so uniquely DARIUS just make him own my heart. * TEA - how many other high school boys are as obsessed with tea as Darius is? * Father-son relationship depiction - the way Darius and his dad deal with their depression and how they interact and cry together and oh my goodness. Every boy and dad need this book. * FINALLY a book that addresses body image and fat shaming of a male protagonist - this is something that unfairly is almost entirely dealt with in books with female leads * Male friendship - Darius and Sohrab have probably the most touching male friendship (any gender friendship) that I have encountered in YA literature.k* My first read ever set in Iran, first read ever with Farsi used so heavily throughout the story, and my first read ever about Persian culture - these are definitely underrepresented in YA lit and @adibkhorram brings these to life for readers in such an amazing way.* The phrase “Sportsball Industrial Complex” is used and I can’t really think of a phrase I have ever loved more. I am honestly going to be using this so often in my life going forth.
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  • Mckinlay
    January 1, 1970
    This book was so beautiful. I absolu tely loved it. The family, the friendship, the depression rep. It was all perfect. I can't properly express how many things I felt while reading it. Pre-order it immediately, and keep your eye on Adib Khorram, he's going to do great things with his writing.
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  • Jenny Chou
    January 1, 1970
    I think books about American teens of Middle Eastern descent are much needed in YA literature, so I was thrilled to read an ARC of DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY. Through fiction we can gain insight and understanding of other cultures, essential in working towards a peaceful world. When his Persian mother gets word that her father is dying, high school sophomore Darius, his sister, Laleh, and their parents make the long journey from Portland, Oregon to Yzad in central Iran. Darius’s vision of Iran I think books about American teens of Middle Eastern descent are much needed in YA literature, so I was thrilled to read an ARC of DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY. Through fiction we can gain insight and understanding of other cultures, essential in working towards a peaceful world. When his Persian mother gets word that her father is dying, high school sophomore Darius, his sister, Laleh, and their parents make the long journey from Portland, Oregon to Yzad in central Iran. Darius’s vision of Iran expands from his grandparent’s faces on the computer screen to a world where the houses and the trees aren’t so different from the ones in Portland. But he quickly realizes that while the kids at his high school perceive Darius as Iranian, to Persians he’s an American. And it turns out he’s not so great with social cues in either country. He speaks a bit of Farsi, but not enough to have a conversation, and he sometimes forgets to taarof, the custom of repeated saying no thank you, even when you might mean yes, please. His relationship with his grandfather mirrors the one Darius has with his American father. Darius is convinced they both see him as nothing but an awkward disappointment. Added to his problems is a struggle with depression that makes Darius question if his dad even loves him. While working through issues of family connections and identity, Darius unexpectedly makes friends with his grandparent's neighbor, a boy whose genuine kindness leaves Darius rethinking everything from his shaky relationship with his father to his views about playing soccer. DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY is a much-needed novel about identity, depression, and finding connections not just among your peers but also within your own family. Teens will love the detailed observations Darius makes about the world around him and his humorous descriptions of the people he meets, proving that even through the lens of depression the world can still be an amusing place. Be prepared to learn a lot about Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings, savory Persian food, and how to put hell in a cup of tea and damn it. While the author does a fantastic job of developing all his characters, my favorite is a dancing electric fan (no spoilers here - read the book to find out why!)
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  • ✒ Noora
    January 1, 1970
    dear GOD am I seeing this right????? IS THIS... COULD IT BE.... OH MY GOD. It's Persian, it's YA, it's gay af, it's about travelling back to Iran, it's about figuring out the Persian identity you've lost by immigration??might as well have put my name on it. god bless Adib Khorram's soul. This book is gonna make my year, if not my life! this is also going to be a good guide for when I finally get to go back to Iran for a while next year. oh my GOD I STILL CANT BELIEVE THIS EXISTS
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  • Daria
    January 1, 1970
    A BOOK ABOUT A KID WHO DOESN’T FEEL IRANIAN ENOUGH WHO GOES TO VISIT IRAN AND CONNECT TO HIS HERITAGE AND CULTURE??? WOW IM REALLY CRYING RN
  • Taylor Berman
    January 1, 1970
    From the synopsis, I was expecting a bittersweet tale of a forbidden first love. That's not what this story is, and I was frankly very disappointed by it. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. SPOILER ALERT: I just feel like the subtle flirting and touching and based on some of the things Darius thinks, that yes, he is gay. All the "oh why don't you have a girlfriend" and "I can't tell him the truth." (not exact quotes, but you get the jist). BUT his sexuality is never openly addressed From the synopsis, I was expecting a bittersweet tale of a forbidden first love. That's not what this story is, and I was frankly very disappointed by it. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. SPOILER ALERT: I just feel like the subtle flirting and touching and based on some of the things Darius thinks, that yes, he is gay. All the "oh why don't you have a girlfriend" and "I can't tell him the truth." (not exact quotes, but you get the jist). BUT his sexuality is never openly addressed and nothing actually ever happens between Darius and Sohrab, despite the whole book that seems to be leading to some kind of moment between them that never actually happens. They're just "best friends." And while friendship is an important subject, a first-love, forbidden gay romance in Iran would have been so much better. And would have added so much more depth to the book and the characters.
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  • Abby Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    Coming in August. So good. A great portrayal of a teen with depression - Darius's voice is spot on - and that pressure we all put on ourselves to be okay. Like, I feel like I know this kid. Star Trek references are a fun bonus (but not necessary to be a Star Trek fan to enjoy this book).
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  • Alex Morra
    January 1, 1970
    What to Expect: A story about a boy and not just any boy. This is a boy who is an undesirable and, simultaneously, unapologetically himself. When he goes to Iran, a place people in his social circle consider his home but a country he has never been in, he meets his grandparents and a boy named Sohrab, who teaches him more about love than he has ever known. Chock full of reflections about being depressed, overweight, bi-racial, gay, and unfriended. I cried at least three times. I smiled more ofte What to Expect: A story about a boy and not just any boy. This is a boy who is an undesirable and, simultaneously, unapologetically himself. When he goes to Iran, a place people in his social circle consider his home but a country he has never been in, he meets his grandparents and a boy named Sohrab, who teaches him more about love than he has ever known. Chock full of reflections about being depressed, overweight, bi-racial, gay, and unfriended. I cried at least three times. I smiled more often than that. Darius the Great Is Not Okay is the lead contender for my fave YA book released in 2018.Review: Darius or Darioush: Two names from two locations, historical names for a contemporary boy. Neither is one he can live up to. Many years ago, I went to a retreat. In California. Where I am from and, perhaps, should have seen the following coming. The facilitator put us in pairs for an exercise involving staring into each other’s eyes until we were overcome by each other’s beauty. All around me, people sighed in wonder, transcendent. Me, though? Well, there was nothing wrong with my partner. They were fine. Eyes, like most, were interesting. Even pretty. However, there wasn’t anything particularly self-revealing about the green-brown pair of irises, or the deep chasm of each pupil. I couldn’t, however, fake some matching ecstasy to what I perceived was happening around me. My partner was understandably upset. The facilitator both frustrated and disappointed in me. I was supposed to notice something and this was supposed to make my partner feel beautiful. This experience has haunted me ever since.However.Adib Khorram has been able to give me a way into that experience in a way that facilitator hadn’t. In this book, there was no question that Darius/Darioush isn’t someone who can be perceived as beautiful at a glance. In fact, he was so very other, the opposite is true. From his frizzy hair to his plump body, his incessant self-defeat, the fact of his depression, he is always outside of that which is valued. Even his father is against him, always picking at him, trying to make him more than he is. Nevertheless, he remains unapologetically himself. Even when those around him ascribe different traits or histories or possibilities to him on his own behalf.Then he goes to Iran.His grandfather, whom he’d never met in person, his ill. This side of his family had only been accessible to him via video calls, as two-dimensional as the screen they shared once a week. The other side of his family—his father’s side—so coldly Teutonic, he couldn’t really imagine much different. However, when he lands in Iran, it is like Dorothy landing in Oz with emotion in technicolor. Needless to say, nothing is as he expected. When he leaves, he is changed. Not because anything, in particular, is different other than the fact he is loved and he the way he knows it is like nothing he has experienced before. This book touched me in a way I have no words for. Khorram took advantage so many paper cuts to find his way into my psyche: from how Darius was watched with judgment, for how he was betrayed and embarrassed, to how the most unexpected moments brought him to an unwelcome pleasure of being seen. Those first moments of love felt like splinters: real and painful. What you may not like:  I mean…there were certain instances in which the ruthlessness and horribleness that is impossible to avoid if you happen to be human rears its ugly head. Almost everyone had a hand in doing things to each other that were Not Nice (TM). These events were hard to read. But they were authentic, touching, and written so beautifully. What you will love:  The description of Iran as seen with a Western eye from the lush gardens to the fan displaying some level of consciousness to the love of football to heaving tables of luscious, glorious food. This was described as a place where unlikely miracles happen. It wasn’t just Darius going on a journey, it was Khorram bringing the reader along for a diesel-burping, fig tree laden, alabaster tower, teenage-angst ridden ride. Also, just because Darius is openly gay doesn’t mean this book will include a romance. Darius’ identity as a gay man threads in the background but never quite makes it to the forefront of discussion, aside from moments of his coming out and moments when he wonders about those around him. I loved that. Personally, I can’t think of any other contemporary book in which romantic love and/or coming-of-age sex doesn’t play a pivotal role in the plot; this fills a necessary gap. It’s a beautiful example of coming into one’s complete identity and of how one can be complete without having to be in or out of a romantic/sexual relationship.Have I mentioned this is very likely my favorite book of 2018?
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  • Paige Jeanty
    January 1, 1970
    Darius the Great is Not Okay will hook you from the first page- Not for it’s suspense, not for its romance, not for it’s conflict, but for it’s undeniable endearment and relatable nature. Darius is a high school student battling depression and acceptance. He’s not quite thin enough, not quite athletic enough, and with a white father and a Persian mother- not quite Persian enough. He has accepted his fate of being “meh”, though he dreams of life being different. When his family needs to take a tr Darius the Great is Not Okay will hook you from the first page- Not for it’s suspense, not for its romance, not for it’s conflict, but for it’s undeniable endearment and relatable nature. Darius is a high school student battling depression and acceptance. He’s not quite thin enough, not quite athletic enough, and with a white father and a Persian mother- not quite Persian enough. He has accepted his fate of being “meh”, though he dreams of life being different. When his family needs to take a trip to Iran to visit an ailing family member, Darius begins to find out who he is and what he has to offer life. Touching on all of the relevant issues young teens face today- peer acceptance, self acceptance, parental acceptance- Darius is the ultimate underdog that everyone roots for. Contrary to the title, readers will be saying “Darius the Great IS okay” by the end of the novel. There are not enough good things to say about the fabulous book. Darius the Great is one of those books that will stick with you for a long time. Not only does the book appeal to young boys and girls alike, but the seamless integration of Persian culture leaves readers walking away more personally and culturally knowledgeable. The character development and language Khorram uses leads readers to feel perfectly connected to Darius and his family. The internal battles Darius faces between his depression, jealousy towards his younger sister, and desire for acceptance from his father are so natural that every teen will relate on some level. This is a book that is culturally and emotionally diverse, and one that I will recommend to any Young Adult reading lover.
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  • Christine
    January 1, 1970
    Darius the Great is Not Okay is often charming but sometimes frustrating. I was excited about reading it because I love journeys to places I have never been, and I have never been to Iran or anywhere in the Middle East. This is a subtle book in many ways, and that certainly has its appeal (I am certain many, many people will identify with his struggles with depression and identity and be blown away by its relationship to their own experiences) but I kept hoping for something other than his inter Darius the Great is Not Okay is often charming but sometimes frustrating. I was excited about reading it because I love journeys to places I have never been, and I have never been to Iran or anywhere in the Middle East. This is a subtle book in many ways, and that certainly has its appeal (I am certain many, many people will identify with his struggles with depression and identity and be blown away by its relationship to their own experiences) but I kept hoping for something other than his internal shifts to happen, and I suppose I was disappointed because it felt like all of his changes came from external catalysts instead of inner-motivated growth. I was left rather numb to Darius himself, and at one point downright annoyed at him. Although the book was a swift read, it occurred to me about 75% of the way through that part of why I was moving through it so quickly was because I was anticipating something truly happening. I also wished that the explanation of Persian/Iranian customs and foods was better integrated. It felt like half of the book was Darius pausing to directly tell us what every single thing was instead of providing natural narration that showed us. It was a bit like "Persian Culture for Dummies" fighting against a quiet plot of internal change which is an awkward marriage. If you removed all definitions and explanations of aspects of Persian culture, Darius the Great would be a sweet and charming novella instead of a full-length book that fell just short of its own (for me) greatness.This review is based on an ARC received at BookCon.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    *Thank you First to Read for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.*A beautiful story so subtle and wonderfully written. From the food to the landscapes to the cultural identity struggles. Iran came alive before my eyes. Darius is an endearing character. He is a half-Persian teenage boy trying to figure out who he is. On the family trip to Iran, he gains a little more insight into himself with the help of his new friend, Sohrab. My one little comp *Thank you First to Read for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.*A beautiful story so subtle and wonderfully written. From the food to the landscapes to the cultural identity struggles. Iran came alive before my eyes. Darius is an endearing character. He is a half-Persian teenage boy trying to figure out who he is. On the family trip to Iran, he gains a little more insight into himself with the help of his new friend, Sohrab. My one little complaint would be Darius' dialogue. A lot of "um". A lot. At least 85% of his sentences begin with "um". I get what the author was trying to express, but it just became so repetitive. Anyway, this is an incredibly lovely story! 
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  • Elyse
    January 1, 1970
    Penguin First-to-Read ARC & BookishFirst.com ARC.Darius the Great is Not Okay was a very enjoyable read. Darius is a Fractional Persian (he's half) and lives in Portland, Oregon with his family. He's the least Persian Persian he knows. He has depression for "no reason, nothing bad has ever happened to him" and he has no friends. He doesn't get along with his father except for 47 minutes every night when they watch an episode of Star Trek together. Darius's babou (grandfather) has a brain tum Penguin First-to-Read ARC & BookishFirst.com ARC.Darius the Great is Not Okay was a very enjoyable read. Darius is a Fractional Persian (he's half) and lives in Portland, Oregon with his family. He's the least Persian Persian he knows. He has depression for "no reason, nothing bad has ever happened to him" and he has no friends. He doesn't get along with his father except for 47 minutes every night when they watch an episode of Star Trek together. Darius's babou (grandfather) has a brain tumor and isn't doing well so the family heads to Iran to visit and Darius meets his grandparents/uncles/aunts/cousins for the first time. And for the first time, Darius makes a friend. A friend who truly understands him, without words. This book was beautiful and sad and funny and heartwarming. Darius experiences so many new things and it's a joy to see. Darius mentions Star Trek and Lord of the Rings a LOT and it's adorably funny. He's a big nerd and he shouldn't change.
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  • Ameema Saeed
    January 1, 1970
    I need to stop reading books that make me ugly cry on the GO train 😩
  • BreezeBlowin'Free
    January 1, 1970
    when it comes to books with persian characters, i'm always dubious. because they mostly get the rep wrong. but i'm hopeful this is good. it seems good tbh.
  • London Shah
    January 1, 1970
    I finished Khorram's DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY last night and goodness <3 This is such a profoundly affirming book, most especially for anyone who's ever not felt quite at home, and/or comfortable enough in their own skin. Every single thing about it is so incredibly realistic. Darius is most definitely very Great <3 .Such a moving, incredibly honest and realistic look at both adolescence and how your understanding and acceptance of being a child of diaspora can greatly inform that adol I finished Khorram's DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY last night and goodness <3 This is such a profoundly affirming book, most especially for anyone who's ever not felt quite at home, and/or comfortable enough in their own skin. Every single thing about it is so incredibly realistic. Darius is most definitely very Great <3 .Such a moving, incredibly honest and realistic look at both adolescence and how your understanding and acceptance of being a child of diaspora can greatly inform that adolescent journey. The characterisation & relationship portrayals are just wow. If you want to be truly moved, enjoy plenty of laughs, would love to be immersed in stunning Persian culture (the food alone😻!!!), then this heartwarming story is for you. This book gently takes you by the hand and leads you through Darius's self-journey with great care and consideration. It's remarkable in what it achieves. And on top of all that, it's choc full of FAB nerdy references! I wholeheartedly rec DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY, and am very excited to see what else this talented author comes up with! <3 <3 <3
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  • Sam
    January 1, 1970
    This book had me in tears (in a good way). The relationships between the characters are so wonderfully complex. My heart kept breaking and mending, breaking and mending...
  • Samantha (AK)
    January 1, 1970
    I received free access to an advance galley through the Penguin First to Read program. I have to step out of myself a bit to review this one, but not as far as I expected. If you know me at all, you know that I don’t read a lot of YA. That said, I think that YA fills an important literary niche, and I was thrilled to gain access to this particular ARC.Darius Kellner doesn’t fit. He’s too Persian for America, and too American for Iran. Unlike his younger sister (who he’s pretty sure is his repla I received free access to an advance galley through the Penguin First to Read program. I have to step out of myself a bit to review this one, but not as far as I expected. If you know me at all, you know that I don’t read a lot of YA. That said, I think that YA fills an important literary niche, and I was thrilled to gain access to this particular ARC.Darius Kellner doesn’t fit. He’s too Persian for America, and too American for Iran. Unlike his younger sister (who he’s pretty sure is his replacement, but he loves her anyway), he never got the hang of Farsi. At school, he’s a walking target for bullies--despite the (clearly ineffective) Zero Tolerance Policy. The backdrop to this is that Darius is clinically depressed. What advice his “Teutonic Übermensch” of a dad has to offer is often more hurtful than helpful (despite his own struggles with depression).When his maternal grandfather is found to be terminally ill, Darius’ parents pack up the family to Iran so that they can all see him before he dies. Darius has never been to Iran, and in many ways he’s just as out of place among “True Persians” as he is at home. But while in Yazd, he makes friends with his Bahá'í neighbor, Sohrab. Through their friendship and the duration of the visit, he is forced to confront all of his fears about both himself and his place in his family.Depression rep in fiction is hard to get right. Nudging audiences who may not have experience with depression into becoming invested in such a character is not easy, to say the least, but Khorram has done an outstanding job. Darius is a geeky, tea-loving teenage boy with clinical depression, dealing with all the condemnations that such a demographic must endure.“What happened to you to make you so sad, huh?”“Maybe if you were more normal, people wouldn’t pick on you.”“Stop being selfish.”There’s also attention given to the more overlooked aspects of antidepressants, such as weight gain and the difficulty of finding the right dosage and prescription for a given person, as well as the fact that the meds don’t fix everything. Darius struggles with all of this, fighting to find color in a world that is emotionally grayscale.This book is not about Darius magically becoming happy through the power of love and friendship. Depression doesn’t work like that. It is, however, a book about coming to terms with the idea that it is okay to not be okay, and pushing to be the best you can within your limitations. It does get better. Good things can happen to you. Happiness is a thing you can pursue.Also in this book, Khorram explores what it is to be a child of a first-generation immigrant, caught between cultures. Darius’ mother wanted her first child to be as American as possible, but in so doing inadvertently cut him off from his heritage. This is amplified by the more moderate approach taken to the second child’s integration.It’s not all good. The language and humor is a bit repetitive, and some of the geek references are just nonsensical. The most egregious example was “Soulless Minions of Orthodoxy,” which is a great descriptor for inflexible supporters of the establishment, but not so much for high school bullies. Had it been used only a couple of times, I could have shrugged it off. As it stands, the proof copy I was given seemed to use the phrase every five pages or so.Less objectively, Darius Kellner is a teenage boy, surrounded by teenage boys, with all the commentary that implies. Some of it is just eyeroll-worthy locker-room talk, but there was one paragraph I had to read three times before it clicked that it was a reference to… certain morning inconveniences. (Could have gone my whole life without that realization, thanks.)Overall, though, this was a good read. The last page in the book is a collection of resources that I’ve copied below. The list I have is U.S.-specific, so I don’t know if it will be different in the U.K. edition (or any subsequent international publications.)Personal rating: 3 / 5 ...but because I’m a YA cynic, and because this is an advance copy, and because (despite its flaws) this is one of the best representations of depression I’ve seen in fiction, I’m going to add another star.U.S. Resources (from the back of the book)♢ National Alliance on Mental Illness: nami.org♢ Anxiety and Depression Association of America: adaa.org♢ Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance: dbsalliance.org♢ Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741♢ National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1.800.273.8255♢ The Trevor Project (LGBTQ Lifeline): 1.866.488.7386♢ Trans Lifeline: 1.877.565.8860
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  • Jenni Frencham
    January 1, 1970
    Khorram, Adib. Darius the Great is Not Okay. Penguin, 2018.Darius is a socially awkward Trekkie (or Trekker, if you're picky). He doesn't have a lot of friends at school and is obsessed with tea, even though he works in a Teavana-esque store that sells a lot of "tea," which is mostly sugar. Darius and his family go to Iran to visit his maternal grandparents as his grandfather is dying of a brain tumor. This will be Darius's first time in Iran, and he's nervous. His Farsi isn't nearly as good as Khorram, Adib. Darius the Great is Not Okay. Penguin, 2018.Darius is a socially awkward Trekkie (or Trekker, if you're picky). He doesn't have a lot of friends at school and is obsessed with tea, even though he works in a Teavana-esque store that sells a lot of "tea," which is mostly sugar. Darius and his family go to Iran to visit his maternal grandparents as his grandfather is dying of a brain tumor. This will be Darius's first time in Iran, and he's nervous. His Farsi isn't nearly as good as his younger sister's, and he has been warned that his extended family will not understand his need to take medication to control his depression. While in Iran, Darius learns more about his heritage and befriends the neighbor boy; if he had stayed longer, perhaps they would have been more than friends.Darius has a lot of hang-ups: he feels like his father doesn't approve of him because he isn't a jock and because he hasn't been able to control his medication-derived weight gain; he is frequently teased at school and his bullies even follow him to his job; he feels invisible in his own family because his little sister's big personality steals the spotlight. It's super awkward for him at first in Iran because his Farsi isn't very good and many of his relatives don't speak English super well, so he's sort of left out. Then he meets Sohrab. Sohrab is a neighbor boy about his same age, and they become friends quickly. Sohrab invites Darius to play soccer and speaks up for him when he won't speak up for himself. When his family finally leaves Iran to return to the United States, Darius is sad to be leaving Sohrab and sad to be leaving a family that feels more real to him than they had when he only knew them via Skype. I found this book to be very readable. Darius is an awkward teenage boy, and this book reads true to that voice. He refers to his bullies as the Soulless Minions of Orthodoxy, talks about paying attention to various Iranian social cues, and relishes the time he spends watching Star Trek with his dad. Darius doesn't understand why his dad is so hard on him, and he feels like he is constantly disappointing his dad. All of these things would make this book very relatable for many teens. I love the addition of Persian culture and the trip to Iran, and for most of my patrons, this will be a window into a world they've never visited. For those wondering about the LGBT content: Darius's father has two moms, and it's hinted in the book that Darius might be gay, although that's not something he's quite ready to process yet. His friendship with Sohrab certainly appears to be blossoming into something more before he has to return to the States. This book definitely fits into the "awkward teen without backbone is having troubles, then grows a backbone and starts speaking for himself and standing up for himself and things are a bit better" category of books, which are ones my teen patrons love, so I can easily recommend this title.Recommended for: teensRed Flags: The bullies at Darius's school call him D-bag and a few other savory terms; the bullies in Iran mock Darius because he is uncircumcised (and they see this in the post-soccer shower room). Darius's extended family doesn't understand his need to medicate for his depression and say things like, "Just don't be so sad," which could be problematic to some readers.Overall Rating: 5/5 starsRead-Alikes: Jack of Hearts (and other parts); Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel; Jaya and RasaI received a complimentary copy of this book through Edelweiss for the purpose of review.
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  • Austin Manges
    January 1, 1970
    (I received an arc courtesy of Penguin Random House.)Darius the Great is Not Okay is a book that explores a young man's discovery of personal identity, greatness in ancestral roots, and true friendship. Darius (or should I say Darioush) is a fractional Persian who travels to Iran to meet his grandparents and the rest of his extended family (on his mother’s side) for the first time. Darius, to his own surprise, however, discovers much more than roots to his family tree in this visit across the se (I received an arc courtesy of Penguin Random House.)Darius the Great is Not Okay is a book that explores a young man's discovery of personal identity, greatness in ancestral roots, and true friendship. Darius (or should I say Darioush) is a fractional Persian who travels to Iran to meet his grandparents and the rest of his extended family (on his mother’s side) for the first time. Darius, to his own surprise, however, discovers much more than roots to his family tree in this visit across the sea. He discovers Sohrab.And even more to Darius surprise, he discovers a friendship that empowers and encourages him to not only be Darius, but Darioush--the original Persian version of his name—which in tow, I believe, teaches Darius to love and accept all parts of who he is and who he has the potential to become, if he’ll just embrace those parts of himself he’s allowed limited. This novel dissects friendship; the love, the loyalty, the richness friends give in their support and acceptance of not who we try to be, but who we simply are. Really, this novel illustrates how friendship can be a bloom of hope for those who feels hopeless in the department of ever having anyone to call a friend. Which I personally love. I absolutely love the line, “your place was empty”. I think those five words say so much. I hope this book finds the hands of all of us in life who feel (or who have felt) like we don’t belong or that we are inadequate in any regard. I hope this book reveals to us the people in our lives, who are much like Sohrab, who are there to encourage, support, and simply listen. I loved how silence wasn’t (always) something feared in this novel. I also loved how Sohrab wasn’t afraid to speak up for his new-found friend (such as telling Darius’ sister and so many others to speak English around Darius, since he didn’t know Farsi), especially in situations where rudeness or ignorance simply existed. I think this book illustrates courage, gentleness, love, and kindness in so many different lights. Some, we may not have seen before. Darius is a voice everyone needs to take time to hear. He’s unique and wonderful and we need more characters like him in Contemporary YA. Thank you, Adib Khorram, for sharing this wonderful story with us. It’s a must read, for sure.
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  • WillowRaven
    January 1, 1970
    Review/Book: Darius the Great is Not OkayAuthor: Adib KhorramThis story is about Darius (Darioush) who is part Persian, living in America, with his blended family. His mother was born and raised in Iran, and then met Stephen Kellner, fell in love, married and moved to the United States where they had 2 children: Darius, and his sister, Laleh. Darius is a sort of outcast at his school, has only 1 friend and works at a local tea store - which he loves. He has interesting, colorful, creative descri Review/Book: Darius the Great is Not OkayAuthor: Adib KhorramThis story is about Darius (Darioush) who is part Persian, living in America, with his blended family. His mother was born and raised in Iran, and then met Stephen Kellner, fell in love, married and moved to the United States where they had 2 children: Darius, and his sister, Laleh. Darius is a sort of outcast at his school, has only 1 friend and works at a local tea store - which he loves. He has interesting, colorful, creative descriptions for the people and things in his life, and often uses pop culture to help get his point across. It is this unique approach to life that initially endears the main character to the reader. At one point, Darius finds that he and his family are heading to Iran - the home land - for family reasons. It is there he discovers the true meaning of family *and* real friendship, and what it truly means and feels like to belong. He also comes to some realizations about himself and goes through changes he had not anticipated. He develops and appreciation for his heritage and a desire to want to know more. Within the book the main character takes you on an adventure not just through his life, however through his family's native language - which I thoroughly enjoyed learning - as well as the customs of Iran. You come away with a better understanding, and appreciation, for the customs and traditions that are revered through the communities of Iran.I was really taken with this book, as shown by how quickly I finished reading it (just under 4 days) - when I am truly enjoying a book, I will "devour" it .... and I did that with this book. I really had a hard time putting it down.In closing, I wish to say that I received this book as an ARC edition via BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review.  I wish to thank both the publisher and the author for the chance to read a most remarkable "coming of age" story.  In my opinion, this book is most definitely "okay" - it is one of the best I've read so far this year!!
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    Quick note before the review; I'm not too sure why people have this on their LGBT shelves, but it's not LGBT. I believe the author is LGBT, but there are no apparent LGBT themes. Also trigger warning for depression and talk of suicide.I really really loved this book. Darius's mom is Persian, but Darius has lived his whole life in America. He's fat, awkward, takes meds for depression, and loves tea. He doesn't really have friends at school and is constantly being teased by a few of the guys in hi Quick note before the review; I'm not too sure why people have this on their LGBT shelves, but it's not LGBT. I believe the author is LGBT, but there are no apparent LGBT themes. Also trigger warning for depression and talk of suicide.I really really loved this book. Darius's mom is Persian, but Darius has lived his whole life in America. He's fat, awkward, takes meds for depression, and loves tea. He doesn't really have friends at school and is constantly being teased by a few of the guys in his grade. Upon the news his grandfather has a brain tumor and won't get better, his parents decide they need to take a trip to Iran to see him. While they're there, Darius befriends Sohrab, and they discover they're a lot like each other, despite them growing up in different countries. Despite the writing style being the fourth-wall-breaking kind, I really liked it. I connected to Darius more I think, because of the way his depression is narrated. It doesn't come up and down like a lot of authors tend to do, it's always there, lurking between the lines. It reads like depression feels. I also loved that it takes place in Iran, I love that teenagers are going to get to read this and find a part of themselves within it, as there aren't many teen books with Persian main characters. And that this one mostly takes place in Iran is fantastic. It also touches on the prejudices Darius faces at school, as well as what it feels like to visit somewhere that's supposed to be your home, but feeling like a tourist.I also loved the way it depicted a healthy male friendship, where they could both show feeling, stand up for each other, and have respect for each other without worrying it would make them less "manly"The only problem I had was that the writing became a bit repetitive after 200 pages, the voice that came from the style began to fall away because lines were repeating so often. I can't wait for this book to come out. Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin for the e-arc.4.5/5 stars!
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