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Summary and book reviews of Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius the Great Is Not Okay

by Adib Khorram

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram X
Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2018, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2019, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Adrienne Pisch
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About this Book

Book Summary

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 a Fractional Persian—half, his mom's side—and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life.

Darius has never really fit in at home, and he's sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn't exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they're spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city's 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.

Adib Khorram's brilliant debut is for anyone who's ever felt not good enough - then met a friend who makes them feel so much better than okay.

Excerpt
Darius the Great Is Not Okay

My grandmother loomed large on the monitor, her head tiny and her torso enormous.

I only ever saw my grandparents from an up-the-nose perspective.

She was talking to Laleh in rapid-fire Farsi, something about school, I thought, because Laleh kept switching from Farsi to English for words like cafeteria and Heads-Down, Thumbs-Up.

Mamou's picture kept freezing and unfreezing, occasionally turning into chunky blocks as the bandwidth fluctuated.

It was like a garbled transmission from a starship in distress. "Maman," Mom said, "Darius and Stephen want to say hello."Maman is another Farsi word that means both a person and a relationship—in this case, mother. But it could also mean grandmother, even though technically that would be mamanbozorg.

I was pretty sure maman was borrowed from French, but Mom would neither confirm nor deny.

Dad and I knelt on the floor to squeeze our faces into the camera shot, while Laleh sat on Mom's lap in...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Adib Khorram's debut novel crosses cultural boundaries to tug at heartstrings and remind us of the importance of kindness. It transports the reader into the doubts and insecurities of being a teenager, and provides a lesson on how friendship and family act as a guide toward shaping one's identity...continued

Full Review (755 words).

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(Reviewed by Adrienne Pisch).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. While the book doesn't sugarcoat problems in the country (unjust imprisonment and an outdated view of mental illness are mentioned), it mainly stays focused on the positive - Iran's impressive landscape and mouthwatering food, the warmth of its people - as it shows how a boy who feels like an outcast at home finds himself and true friendship overseas.

School Library Journal
Starred Review. A strong choice for YA shelves. Give this to fans for Adam Silvera and John Corey Whaley. Grades 8 and up.

Author Blurb Becky Albertalli, award-winning author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Heartfelt, tender, and so utterly real. I'd live in this book forever if I could.

Author Blurb Laurie Halse Anderson, award-winning author of Speak
I love this story, and the way it combines the bitter of adolescence with the sweet of friendship and family. Brewed together they make a beautiful, memorable book.

Author Blurb Sara Farizan, author of If You Could Be Mine
Darius the Great is not just okay - he's wonderful. A story about learning who you are, who you want to be in the world, and how family will always be there, no matter how great the physical or emotional distance.

Author Blurb Nic Stone, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin
I've never read a book that so powerfully demonstrates how connecting with where you come from can illuminate who you are and help you figure out where you're going. From its deadpan Star Trek humor to its brilliant examination of mental health, Darius the Great is Not Okay is a supernova of heart and hope that's sure to become a classic

Author Blurb Jasmine Warga, author of My Heart and Other Black Holes
A love letter to anyone who has felt uncomfortable in their own skin and wondered where exactly they belonged. A big-hearted and marvelous debut.

Author Blurb John Corey Whaley, award-winning author of Highly Illogical Behavior
Darius the Great is Not Okay is a total knockout. This story of identity and friendship - and how one can inform and reveal the other - will stay with me for a long time. And challenge me too, as a person and artist, which all great books should do. For its exploration of male friendship and cultural expectations alone, Adib Khorram's lovely debut should be required reading.

Author Blurb Arvin Ahmadi, author of Down and Across
Prepare to fall hard for Darius. His voice will grab you instantly, with sharp humor and tender growing up moments, and won't let go until the very last page. This is openhearted storytelling at its best.

Reader Reviews

Rebecca R

Unique, Haunting, and Special Tale
This book has a teenage male protagonist but readers of all ages and genders will be able to relate to the difficulties he faces. Darius's Persian ancestry makes him a target of ignorant bullying at home in the USA, but a family trip to spend time ...   Read More

RebeccaR

A Special, Unique, and Unforgettable Coming-of-Age
I would classify this as a must-read for 2018! Darius is a unique teenage boy whose story will appeal to all ages, even though the book is categorized as YA. Darius has to deal with high school life where he isn't one of the supposedly cool, in-...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

The Original Darius the Great

Relief of Darius the Great in PersepolisIn Darius the Great Is Not Okay, Darius has two main concerns about his name: it starts with "D" (which provides ample opportunity for bullies to give him horrible nicknames), and it has connotations of an unattainable legacy. His namesake is Darius the Great, king of Persia from 522-486 BCE.

Darius I was born circa 550 BCE to a provincial governor. How he became king is historically controversial. The kinder version of the story says that Darius was serving the heir to the Persian throne, Cambyses, in Egypt when word arrived that Cambyses' younger brother Bardiya had stolen the throne from their father. However, Cambyses had secretly assassinated Bardiya months before, and the usurper was a pretender, a man named Gaumata. Cambyses set ...

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