Book Review: Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

This cover is everything

This cover is everything

Darius the Great Is Not Okay
by Adib Khorram
Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Series: stand alone
Published: August 28th 2018
Rating: I loved this more than words and Darius needs to let me know how he is doing from time to time. I am sorry I don’t make the rules.
Times read: 1
Recommended by: I think I kept seeing it on twitter and as a recommended book on Goodreads.

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram is an #ownvoices book about Darius Kellner a half white half Persian sixteen-year-old boy living in Portland whose parents decide that it is time for them to visit Iran for the first time in his life.

One of the main themes of the book is figuring out how to be "enough" for the people around you. Darius feels as if he isn't American enough in America, Persian enough in Iran, "sane" enough, or just right enough for his father. It was so touching to read about him figuring out what expectations he should meet and what he can let go to be himself. I think that this book would be a great addition to international schools because of that. One of the greatest things about reading is the ability to connect with characters who on the surface are completely different than yourself. I am not Persian (True or Fractional), male, or a teenager. It doesn't matter. Darius was such a real character that the reader knows, understands, and hopefully is able to see the world through his eyes for a little while. Darius is one of the best characters that I have read in a long time. He feels like a person that I know and someone that I would want to spend time with and check on. I want him to be okay and happy.

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.

The other main theme of this book was friendship. How do you make friends with people when it just doesn't seem natural to you. I was an adult before I found "my people" and I related so much to the relief and joy of finding others who get you. Darius's friendship with Sohrab was so beautiful and moving. I am glad to read about an emotional and healthy friendship between boys. Representation matters in all ways.

Bonus points for have some of this most accurate and relatable section on crazy long international flights. How gross you feel, the weirdness of international airport Subway, and the terrible feeling that you both need to sleep for days and the way you can't sleep for more than ten-minute snatches. I felt all of that.

The depiction of depression is sensitive and realistic. I know that depression can look different for different people, but this felt as if it was the way that Darius experiences depression. He takes medication for it, and the book touches on the difficulty in getting the dosage right. Not enough books tackle this and it makes Darius that much more real.

And have I mentioned the food? My appreciation for food in literature is well documented, and this book was delicious edition. There is such a love and a reverence for Iranian food that I cannot even. I was writing down and googling food words all the way through this book because I am not going to go any more time without these in my life. Crispy rice for-evah!

Darius the Great is Not Okay is also a great addition to my Iran book list. It is funny and touching and I read almost all of it in one sitting. I regret nothing expect not ordering food earlier and the fact that I took this long to get to the book even though I had it preordered. Don't be like me, read it now.

From Goodreads:

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 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.