Title: Darius the Great Is Not Okay
Author: Adib Khorram
Date: August 28th 2018
Publisher: Dial Books
Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram is an own-voices YA book centering Darius Kellner’s journey to Yazd, his mother’s birthplace and the city where his grandparents and relatives live. He’s a half-American, half-Iranian boy who suffers of depression and who loves brewing and drinking tea.
I loved this book so much that I can’t even express how much I connected with the protagonist. Darius is me and I am he. He’s fat, depressed and he doesn’t fit in any group. He’s too American to be considered Persian, but he’s also too different to be considered 100% American, thus leaving him in a sort of limbo.
You know, two years ago I returned to China after a long time because my grandfather too was dying because of a tumor. It was awkward meeting him, after all, he was the remaining shell of what I am sure was a great man. And this is one of the things that Darius and I have in common, While in China, I started feeling like maybe there was a place for me, that if I wanted, I could belong somewhere.
It wasn’t like I didn’t want to talk to Mamou.
I always wanted to talk to her.
But it was hard, it didn’t feel like she was half a world away, it felt like she was half a universe away-like she was coming to me from some alternate reality.
It was like Laleh belonged to that reality, but I was just a guest.
I loved learning so much about a new culture: the food, the teas, the holidays, the language. Persian and Chinese have a period of history in common and this is why they both have an important thing in their culture: the taarof. I’ve always wondered about its rules, but I think I will never understand them.
The family dynamics resonated very much with me. The relationship between Darius and his father developed in a slow and beautiful way, like all the book honestly is. Darius the a Great Is Not Okay is raw and delicate at the same time. It makes you cry and it makes you smile.
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.
There was nothing like it back home.
Sohrab is a great friend, Darius’ only friend. He always try to make him comfortable and he doesn’t judge him for being depressed. This character always listened to Darius and helped him mature.
The writing style was captivating and this novel instantly became one of my all-time favorite books. If you’re looking for a heart-breaking and refreshing story, with descriptions of a culture totally different from yours, I highly recommend Darius the Great Is Not Okay. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.
About the author
Adib Khorram is an author, a graphic designer, and a tea enthusiast. If he’s not writing (or at his day job), you can probably find him trying to get his 100 yard Freestyle under a minute, or learning to do a Lutz Jump. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where people don’t usually talk about themselves in the third person.