“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 by Adib Khorram
Review by: Ivy
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Darius Kellner doesn’t have that many friends, and that’s fine. He’s proud of his Persian roots but has only ever seen his Iranian family on awkward Skype calls. Darius always thought he could at least stay connected with his close family, but now his dad seems to be drifting away from their father-son tradition of watching Star Trek and his sister speaking Farsi more than English, it feels like all he’s got left is his passion for brewing tea and his proudly Hobbit-ish haircut.
When his mom announces a spontaneous family trip to Iran to visit Darius’ grandparents, he fears he won’t fit in. Then he meets his grandmother, who gives the best hugs, his grandfather, who’s kind inside his rough outside husk, and Sohrab, a friend who Darius feels like he’s known all his life. Suddenly he can’t imagine leaving the place where temples pierce the clouds and everything smells sweet and dusty, where you can play soccer for hours and look up at the night sky and feel more okay than you ever have in your whole life.
Darius the Great is Not Okay is a fresh and sensitive book, with a wholly original character and concept. It’s less about teen angst and more about family angst, which definitely isn’t the traditional YA path. I’ve never read a book like it before, a book that’s soft while staying funny and handles dark and difficult topics in a relatable way.
Darius the Great isn’t about being bullied or ashamed of who you are. It celebrates themes of identity, love, and family. The conflict lies in Darius’ struggles within himself, with his father, and the mental illness that plagues them both.
Darius the Great is great for fans of Aristotle & Dante and Sara Farizan, supplying a genuine tale of human connection. An exploration of a lonely kid discovering his identity, this book is warm, Trek-y, and much more than okay.
Rating: 5/5 Captain Picards.
- “I wanted to know what our family’s stories were. I wanted to know the things Mom wouldn’t think to tell me. Things she knew but never said out loud, because they were a part of her. I wanted to know what made the Bahrami family special.”
- “I was one tiny pulsar in a swirling, luminous galaxy of Iranians, held together by the gravity of thousands of years of culture and heritage.”
- “Everyone wants you here. We have a saying in Farsi. It translates ‘your place was empty.’ We say it when we miss somebody.” I sniffed. “Your place was empty before. But this is your family. You belong here.”