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Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
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Darius the Great Is Not Okay (2018)

by Adib Khorram

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Darius feels like an outsider everywhere -- being half-Asian, half Caucasian leaves him feeling not quite in sync with either culture. At school, he feels like there is a target on his back for which bullies are always aiming. When his maternal grandfather is diagnosed with a fatal tumor, Darius and his family travel to his mother's hometown in Iran to see family members he's never met in person before. In the course of the weeks he spends in Iran, Darius grapples with numerous emotions about himself, his family (immediate and distant), and more.

This book has received a lot of acclaim and well deserves it. The writing style runs smoothly and easily; Darius's voice feels very authentic both in his speech patterns and his inner running narrative. The other characters also feel realistic and well-rounded on the whole. The author explains some parts of Iranian culture by seamlessly weaving information into the text without ever feeling didactic. Darius's depression is deftly woven into the story, playing a big role but without feeling like a PSA about mental illness. I'm sure that many young readers will be able to identify with Darius's struggles, even if they are not an exact mirror of their own. The story's ending is hopeful without being too 'pie in the sky.' ( )
  sweetiegherkin | May 6, 2019 |
I really liked this book! It had me laughing and crying by turns. It was sweet, and moving, and relateable.
Darius is a teenager of American-Persian descent, who has been treated for depression for a few years, something his dad battles with as well. Darius never feels as though he fits in or belongs anywhere-- school, work, home, and now he learns that his family is to travel to Iran and see his maternal relations-- people he has never truly met apart from brief conversations on skype, and his anxiety has increased, because surely, this will be just one more place where he won't fit in. Much to his surprise, he meets Sohrab, and immediately there is a connection. Sohrab turns out to be his first real friend, ever. I thought this was a great story of a family that deals with depression among its members, but also the schematics of families, and how the roles can frequently change as each member grows and changes. Loved it! If you want lots of action and adventure, look for a different book, but if you are in the mood for a touching story then this may fill the bill! ( )
  Stacy_Krout | Mar 26, 2019 |
Darius is a kid who loves tea and is picked on by the "soul-less minions of orthodoxy" at his high school. When he takes a family vacation to meet his dying grandfather, his whole perspective and life changes.Diagnosed with depression, like his dad, Darius has internal struggles. When he meets his first real friend, discovers soccer, and starts to connect with his Persian side, it seems like Darius will find a way to be okay. ( )
  ewyatt | Mar 5, 2019 |
Darius struggles with depression, bullies at school, his relationship with his father, and his place in his family and the world during a visit to Iran to meet his grandparents.
There are lots of things I liked about this one, and I would have loved it, but I couldn't get to a place where I wasn't annoyed by the main character. There were also a few little, niggling things that irritated: the constant references to Star Trek - a show Darius and his father watch together - and the Lord of the Rings, which he is reading while in Iran. I think they could have worked well, but both were too frequent and way too heavy-handed; I felt like the author was elbowing me in the ribs with every reference, trying to make sure I understood the clever undercurrent. A shame, really, because the topics dealt with are really important ones, but I am comforted by the thought that seem to be in the minority with my quibbles - it won more than one YALSA award this year and that does make me happy. ( )
  electrascaife | Feb 15, 2019 |
Darius Kellner, a high school sophomore (which makes him what, 15 or 16?) and his family go on a trip to Yazd in Iran where he meets his mother's family for the first time.

I enjoyed this story of a teenage boy trying to navigate a culture unfamiliar to him when he doesn't really fit in at home either. However, the author says in an afterword that he 'wanted to show how depression can affect a life without ruling it'. I don't really think he managed that. Darius seemed a normal enough rather self-absorbed teenager coping with a bully at school and a hypercritical father. If it weren't for the references to him and his father taking their medication I wouldn't have known depression was an issue until a conversation about 30 pages before the end explaining events seven years before. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Feb 13, 2019 |
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Darius Kellner speaks better klingon than farsi and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He's a Fractional Parsian0half, his mom's side-and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life.
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