Review: “Darius the Great is Not Okay” by Adib Khorram

37506437Title: Darius the Great is Not Okay

Author: Adib Khorram

Publisher: Dial Books / Penguin Publishing Group

Publication Date: August 28, 2018

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Get it: IndieBound | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Amazon | Books-a-Million

(Digital ARC graciously provided by Penguin Publishing Group via their First to Read program)

 

A bi-racial teen discovers the other half of his heritage in Adib Khorram’s heartbreaking and hilarious coming-of-age tale.

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 understand 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 Darious – 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 Darious on his own.

I didn’t know what I was expecting when I requested for Darius the Great is Not Okay. The blurb looked interesting and I was looking for something light to read, so uncontrollable me hit the request button. Little did I know that I will be handed one of the best books I’ll read this year.

There’s just so much to love in this debut – an awkward, relatable main character who will endear himself to readers, a healthy friendship, an honest portrayal of depression, and the sounds, smells and taste of Iran. I just gobbled everything up!

This one relies heavily on its main character, Darius, an awkward, nerdy teen who struggles with depression. Darius does not fit anywhere, not in school where he is a prime target for bullies like Fatty Bolger; not even in his own home where, no matter what he does, his father seems to disappointed of him. So, when his parents take him and his sister to Iran to visit his ailing father for the first and probably the last time, he’s even more out of his element.

It was so precious reading Darius’ growth. He starts out with pretty much a very negative perception of almost everything. He doesn’t really have any friends at school, except for the Persian girl who he occasionally have lunch with. He also doesn’t have a close relationship with his father, often referring to him as an “übermensch.” But, in Iran, he slowly opens up and instantly connects with Sohrab, his grandparents’ young neighbor and the son of his mother’s childhood best friend.

Sohrab becomes Darius’ first real friend and their friendship, I think, is something that both boys needed. Like Darius, Sohrab also doesn’t fit in. He is Baha’i, and this makes him a prime target for the other boys in his neighborhood. Through Sohrab, Darius discovers how it feels like to be included, to have someone to talk to and someone who’ll give him that much needed silence when he needed it, and he learns to trust himself in the process enough to start opening up. himself to the other people in his life.

As much as I love that though, what got me is the realistic and very truthful portrayal of depression in this book. Since the story follows Darius very closely, some parts may be clouded by his persistent self-loathing and overreactivity. The talk Darius and his dad had nearing the end of the book tugged at my heartstrings and made me spill a few tears. It was just so sincere and honest, and practically one of the best scenes in the whole book.

Darius’ sexuality isn’t discussed much, only hinted at, and I was actually pretty okay with that, the same way that having no romance was just fine. I think the story’s main point was to have Darius open himself up, and Adib Khorram accomplishes it successfully.

Darius the Great is Not Okay is an amazing coming-of-age story with a main character who’ll endear himself to readers. This one comes with high recommendations from me.


adib-headshotAdib Khorram is an author, a graphic designer, and a tea enthusiast. He was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. A theater kid in high school, he went on to study design and technical theater at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, with an emphasis in lighting design. He later attended one year of film school in Vancouver, BC.

He returned to Kansas City after school, and has worked in the event production industry ever since. His first novel, DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY, will be published in August 2018.

When he’s not writing or working at his dayjob, he enjoys swimming, ice skating, food, wine, video games, board games, and Kansas City barbecue.

You can find him on Twitter (@adibkhorram), Instagram (@adibkhorram), or on the web at adibkhorram.com

 

First Line Fridays: “Darius the Great is Not Okay” by Adib Khorram

First Line Fridays (feature photo)

First Line Fridays is a weekly feature hosted by Hording Books.


This is probably the late, but as the saying goes, better late than never, right? Truthfully, I haven’t been online for the past couple of days. Not for the lack of trying. After coming home from work, I ready my laptop, open it and all that only to shut it back down again because I just don’t have the energy to even keep my eyes open long enough to finish a writing a single post. I know this is my body telling me to take a break because I’m physically and mentally exhausted, and I heeded its call, something that I learned to do only a few years ago. I shouldn’t feel guilty about taking a break especially when all the signs are there that you need it. The same goes to all of you, too.

Anyway, I’m rambling again. My first line for this Friday comes off from a book that I just recently finished and totally cried over.

37506437

 

Steam belched and hissed. Sweat tricked down the back of my neck.

Smaug the Terrible was furious with me.

“What does it mean, ‘filter error’?” I asked.

“Here.” Mr. Apatan wiggled the hose where it fed into Smaug’s gleaming chrome back. The blinking red error light went dark. “Better?”

“I think so.”

Smaug gurgled happily and began boiling once again.

 

Darius the Great is Not Okay is a book I didn’t know I needed ’til I finished it. My goodness! It was hilarious and heartbreaking and truthful all at the same time. Even now as I’m trying to write my review for it (which I’m hoping to post before the book comes out this Tuesday) I don’t know where to start. I highly recommend this coming-of-age story to all of you.

Alright, well, ramblings aside, that’s it for me today. I wish all of you happy and estful weekend! Ta-ta!

💗💗💗

Rachel

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