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YA Review: Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Title: Darius the Great is Not Okay
Author: Adib Khorram
Year Published: 2018

Genre: YA fiction (LGBTQ)
Pages: 312
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2019 Google Reading map)Iran

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues that the 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 grandparent 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 Farsi version of his name--and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he's Darioush to Sohrab.

Review: With two of the Youth Media Awards under its belt, I had high expectations for this book. It's strange, though, my librarian friend says she is having a difficult time getting the students to read it. Maybe it's because we don't have much of a Middle Eastern population here? I wish that sort of thing didn't influence what students (and adults) read.

This one didn't start out slowly for me, but I did have a bit of an adjustment time to get used to Darius' voice, the way he repeats phrases, and his references to Star Trek. Once I got into the rhythm of his speech patterns I was off and running!

Darius is a wonderful character, so full of self-doubt a desire to be liked and loved. His new friend Sohrab is also fantastic. He brings out the best in Darius and shows him that life can be good, fun, and full of love.

Mental health is a huge part of this story and it is handled well as we see the day to day influences of depression on both teenagers and adults. Family and friendship are also strong themes, bringing out the best and worst in each character. I feel like I really got to know Darius and those that make up his world.

Challenges for which this counts: 

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