Darius the Great Is Not Okay – book review

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Darius the Great Is Not Okay
Realistic Fiction
YA Fiction
* * * * Stars (Great!)

Darius is a chubby 14-year-old Persian-American who loves tea and Star Trek and his little sister, but not so much being bullied, being a disappointment to everyone, and dealing with his depression. When his grandfather is diagnosed with a brain tumor Darius and his family travel to Iran to visit them and he gets to meet his extended Iranian/Persian family in person for the first time. It’s wonderful to get to know more about his family and their history/culture, but it’s also difficult for Darius because he doesn’t speak Persian and often feels left out. He does, however, make a new friend – his first best friend ever – and they spend time together playing soccer (non-American football), and talking. Darius has a lot of issues and is hesitant to speak up for himself/makes a lot of assumptions about what other people think of him/misinterprets people’s intentions. When he has honest conversations with people and everyone really talks and really listens, however, he finds the validation and love and respect that he’s seeking. This was really fascinating – the setting in Iran, especially, is detail-rich and paints an excellent picture of life there. Adib Khorram also explores depression (both Darius’ and his father’s) in a very accessible way that shows what it can be like for different people. Readers will celebrate Darius’ achievements at the end.

Reviewed by YA Librarian