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Darius the Great Is Not Okay

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Darius doesn't think he'll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. 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 I Darius doesn't think he'll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. 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 understands 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 Darioush—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 Darioush on his own.


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Darius doesn't think he'll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. 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 I Darius doesn't think he'll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. 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 understands 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 Darioush—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 Darioush on his own.

30 review for Darius the Great Is Not Okay

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kai

    "Suicide isn't the only way you can lose someone to depression." Darius the Great Is Not Okay and neither am I. I will rave about this book. A lot. I have so many good things to say about it that I need to gather my thoughts before I can write a coherent review. This book took my heart by storm. It made me sad and happy and also very hungry. When I started this book, I knew that I would get emotional. With some books, you just know. The tension started building up and I could feel the tears prickin "Suicide isn't the only way you can lose someone to depression." Darius the Great Is Not Okay and neither am I. I will rave about this book. A lot. I have so many good things to say about it that I need to gather my thoughts before I can write a coherent review. This book took my heart by storm. It made me sad and happy and also very hungry. When I started this book, I knew that I would get emotional. With some books, you just know. The tension started building up and I could feel the tears pricking my eyes. They were impatiently waiting to be released, and during the last chapters of the book, the dam broke, and I was a complete and utter mess. I would not say this is a sad book. At least not in the tragic and heartbreaking way that Adam Silvera is known for. More in the silent and nostalgic way of Benjamin Alire Sáenz. Sometimes life is ugly and beautiful at the same time, and Adib Khorram wonderfully captured this feeling. Darius has an American father (though I did have a feeling that there might be some German roots) and a Persian mother. He loves Star Trek and The Lord of the Rings but not as much as he loves his 8-year-old sister Laleh. At school, he is the weird, chubby loner, who falls victim to his classmates' jokes. And he has to take his medicine every day, or his depression will get out of hand. For all of his life, his Persian grandparents have only ever been pixels on a computer screen, but now he and his whole family are going to visit them in Yazd, Iran for the first time in his life. The only downside is that his grandfather, his Babou, suffers a brain tumour and does not have much time left. This is where I fell in love with Yazd, with Persepolis, with Persian food and culture. We need diverse books because they help us discover a world that is more than just our own four walls. We need diverse books because they teach us tolerance, acceptance and love. I needed this book, because I had never before read a story set in Iran. I never knew that I wanted to taste Quottab, a deep-fried, almond-filled pastry, or Faludeh, a sorbet-like dessert served with rose water syrup. I want to go visit Yazd, I want to see Persepolis and learn about the historic Darius the Great. I loved how elegantly the author teaches the reader about Persian culture and life in Iran. The only thing I could criticise would be Darius himself, but that would be cruel. Some people might say that they got annoyed with his inability to start a sentence without an Uh, but I think it simply transmits his shyness and awkwardness around people, especially around people he loves. You also have to keep in mind that Darius has been struggling with depression for years. He fears that he will disappoint everyone around him, especially his father, and he often feels inadequate and unwanted. I think this is something many teenagers and adults can identify with, which is what makes Darius so relatable. Another aspect that I enjoyed was that the author did not spell everything out. When authors explain each and every detail of their story, when they reveal every secret and leave no room for my own imagination, it often kills the story for me. Books that leave me to wonder and ponder are the ones that stick with me the longest. Darius life does not start and end with this book. There is room for more. There is actually a lot of potential for a sequel that would maybe explore Darius future, his friendship with Sohrab, and also his sexuality. One more thing: Darius father has two mum's, and the fact that this is portrayed in a basically off-hand way like it is the most normal thing in the world, makes me want to wave rainbow flags and throw glitter. Which defeats the cause, I know. What I want to say is, read this book. I hope you will love it as much as I did. Thank you to Penguin Random House International and NetGalley for providing me with an uncorrected eGalley! Find more of my books on Instagram

  2. 4 out of 5

    chai ♡

    So who else read this title and immediately thought “big mood”? also, am I the only one getting so many Ari & Dante vibes from this book??

  3. 5 out of 5

    may ➹

    “It’s okay not to be okay.” The first thing you should know about Darius the Great is Not Okay is that it actually made me cry (which doesn’t happen frequently). It was hilarious, and heartbreaking, and gorgeous. I saw so much of myself in Darius, and each time I put the book down I just wanted to pick it back up and read more. This book is about a boy named Darius, who has never really been in touch with his Persian identity until visiting Iran—and his family—for the first time. It’s “It’s okay not to be okay.” The first thing you should know about Darius the Great is Not Okay is that it actually made me cry (which doesn’t happen frequently). It was hilarious, and heartbreaking, and gorgeous. I saw so much of myself in Darius, and each time I put the book down I just wanted to pick it back up and read more. This book is about a boy named Darius, who has never really been in touch with his Persian identity until visiting Iran—and his family—for the first time. It’s about family and friendship and mental health and learning to be okay with not being okay. It’s about finding who you are and making connections with other people and it’s just overall a beautiful story about a boy coming to terms with himself. This book quite character-driven, as it’s focused on Darius’ development, and I REALLY loved it. Darius is such a sweet, lovable character, and you can’t help but get attached to him and root for him throughout the book. What he feels, you feel (and I lowkey almost hate that because I ENDED UP CRYING). The writing is super easy to read, enjoyable, and engaging. Darius’ voice is really hilarious (and almost reminds me a little of Alice Oseman’s writing style? which is a huge compliment) and I felt compelled to pick the book back up right after I put it down. One of the things I loved most about this book was the depression representation, which was… absolutely amazing. Granted, I haven’t seen a LOT of depression rep in books, but this is definitely one of the best representations I’ve read. While it didn’t capture my experience exactly, it did highlight just exactly how depression can turn you against yourself without you realizing it, and how it’s okay to not be okay. One of my favorite things about the rep is that it shows the “subtlety” (if you could call it that) of depression. Sometimes it’s not a huge thing looming over you; sometimes it’s just a collection of moments that build up until you can’t take it anymore. No one had ever made me feel like it was okay to cry. Or bumped shoulders with me and made me smile. Also, so many struggles with his Persian identity were struggles I could relate to, though of course with my Thai identity. There are really specific connections to my own family, but there were also more general ones, like not being able to communicate as much with grandparents, or feeling awkward with them, or not knowing things about your culture that you feel you should already know. Another of my favorite aspects of this book was how it explored the themes of family and friendship. Family was SO important in this book, especially since it’s directly connected to him getting in touch with his Persian identity, and it’s really beautiful to see him bond with these people he’d only ever been able to see on Skype. And while Darius does get to know his grandparents and aunts and uncles, he ends up also growing closer to his dad, who he hasn’t been on really good terms with. It was honestly so beautiful to see their relationship developing, especially because they also talked about depression (which his dad has as well!). And finally, about friendship… The friendship that rose between Darius and Sohrab was SO GOOD. I’d originally thought this was an m/m romance between the two of them, but it wasn’t, and I’m kind of glad? Because 1) it emphasizes that queer people don’t have to be in a relationship to be queer or queer enough and 2) FRIENDSHIP IS SO IMPORTANT. Sohrab is really Darius’ first friend, since he never really fit in at school and always got bullied, and he helps Darius realize that who he is is okay, that the different parts of himself aren’t bad or things to be insulted. And it was just so beautiful to see these two soft boys BE SO SUPPORTIVE of each other and I loved it. “Your place was empty before. But this is your family. You belong here.” At this point, I truly have no idea what else I can say to make you read this book besides this: IT MADE ME CRY. I mean, crying has been happening more often with books now, but it’s still not a common thing and that should tell you just how emotionally powerful this book is!!!! READ THIS BOOK. PLEASE. It is just a beautiful story that will stay with me for a long time, and I think it will be an unforgettable book for a lot of people. “You okay, son?” “Yeah, Dad,” I said. I took a long, slow sip of my tea. “I’m great.” :: rep :: fat biracial Persian (Iranian, white) gay MC with depression, major Persian (Iranian) Baha’i side character, major side character with depression, multiple Persian (Iranian) side characters :: content warnings :: depression, racist comments (challenged), fatphobic comments (challenged), comments criticizing depression (challenged) Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for a spot on the blog tour and promotion of the book!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)

    Re-read 8/11/20: I loved this book even more the second time around and am actually raising my rating from a 4 to a 5. This book is incredible and if you haven't read it yet YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED TO. I am so glad that I have an arc of Darius the Great Deserves Better so that I can dive in IMMEDIATELY! Original read 8/28/18: WOW OKAY I liked this a heckin’ ton. This is the first book I’ve ever read with an Iranian main character and I learned so many things about the culture that I never knew be Re-read 8/11/20: I loved this book even more the second time around and am actually raising my rating from a 4 to a 5. This book is incredible and if you haven't read it yet YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED TO. I am so glad that I have an arc of Darius the Great Deserves Better so that I can dive in IMMEDIATELY! Original read 8/28/18: WOW OKAY I liked this a heckin’ ton. This is the first book I’ve ever read with an Iranian main character and I learned so many things about the culture that I never knew before. It was also just really well written and I will without a doubt read everything Khorram publishes in the future. So good! TW: depression, fatphobia, disordered eating, racism, racist slurs, suicidal thoughts, terminal illness

  5. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    First book of the Reading Rush complete!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    4.5 stars, rounded up. What an enjoyable, sweet, and special book! "What kind of name is Darius Grover Kellner? It was like I was destined to be a target." Darius Kellner calls himself a "Fractional Persian"—his mother is Persian, and he refers to his blonde, Teutonic father as the Übermensch. But he feels like he doesn't quite fit into either world. He looks like his mother but never really learned to speak Farsi (although his younger sister did), and while he and his father share a love of Sta 4.5 stars, rounded up. What an enjoyable, sweet, and special book! "What kind of name is Darius Grover Kellner? It was like I was destined to be a target." Darius Kellner calls himself a "Fractional Persian"—his mother is Persian, and he refers to his blonde, Teutonic father as the Übermensch. But he feels like he doesn't quite fit into either world. He looks like his mother but never really learned to speak Farsi (although his younger sister did), and while he and his father share a love of Star Trek , it seems like mostly Darius disappoints his father, because he's not more athletic, not in better shape, not the Übermensch-in-training he knows his father wants. The other thing that Darius and his father share is depression, although both manage it through medication. But when Darius gets sad when the more popular kids in high school (aka the "Soulless Minions of Orthodoxy") pick on him or play pranks with him as the subject, when his father disapproves of Darius' in-depth interest in fancy teas (not the factory-made stuff he sells at his part-time job), or when his father criticizes his hair or his eating habits, it seems like his father forgets that Darius has the same problem, which depresses him even further. But when his family heads to Iran to visit Darius' grandparents (his first trip to his ancestral home), he hopes that things will be different. While he absolutely loves spending time with his grandmother, he feels ill-at-ease around his grandfather, who is terminally ill. He feels his grandfather looks at him as disapprovingly as his father, especially when he learns Darius takes medicine for depression. Plus, he doesn't speak Farsi, and his younger sister has no problem communicating with everyone. Everything changes when Darius meets Sohrab, the son of friends of his grandparents. With Sohrab, Darius plays soccer (and enjoys it for the first time), visits various historical landmarks and tourist attractions in the area, and learns about both his heritage and his grandparents, who have been a part of Sohrab's life as long as he can remember. More than that, however, Darius finds he can confide in Sohrab and share the things that sadden him or cause him to feel inadequate, and he knows not only does Sohrab listen, but he identifies with the feelings as well. "The thing is, I never had a friend like Sohrab before. One who understood me without even trying. Who knew what it was like to be stuck on the outside because of one little thing that set you apart." Darius the Great Is Not Okay is a book about feeling like you don't fit in, and how good it feels when you finally click with someone who helps you realize your self-worth. It's about the assumptions we make which cause us emotional pain, and how if we only expressed our feelings, we'd save ourselves so much anxiety. It's also a book about what it's like to live with depression, and how it can impact everything we do and feel, as well as our relationships. This is such a special book. It is so full of heart and the characters are so memorable. I was utterly hooked on this book from start to finish, and unbelievably, read the entire book in one day (and I worked, too). Adib Khorram does such a fantastic job telling a simple yet poignant, rich story, and he makes you feel the same emotions the characters do. I enjoyed this book so much I am willing to overlook my one pet peeve, which is that nearly every sentence Darius said started with, "Um." I know this is probably accurate for teenage boys, but it got a little monotonous after a while. I love books that leave me with a smile on my face. Darius the Great Is Not Okay is definitely one of those. I can't wait to see what's next for Khorram—if this is what he did in his debut, the sky's the limit! See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Reading_ Tam_ Ishly

    ***the sequel is calling me*** All those tears and all. This book talks about so many things: the representation of mental health (depression, therapy, stigma and the discrimination towards it), multicultural representation, the Persian culture and tradition; food and tea love; family and friendship; the sibling dynamics; and yes, also handling bullying, body shaming; coming of age representation. It also shows how a family copes with a member suffering with brain cancer. It also deals with ident ***the sequel is calling me*** All those tears and all. This book talks about so many things: the representation of mental health (depression, therapy, stigma and the discrimination towards it), multicultural representation, the Persian culture and tradition; food and tea love; family and friendship; the sibling dynamics; and yes, also handling bullying, body shaming; coming of age representation. It also shows how a family copes with a member suffering with brain cancer. It also deals with identity and belongingness. I got super attached to all the characters! There's nothing like ten other side characters. Every character is my family now. The good, the bad and the damn fathers. Father issues. Lots of it here. This book gave me a lot more than what I had expected. I cried buckets and buckets starting from page 2. A good book is always a good book no matter what. My heart is still burning.... Book memory: I hid the book under my pillows when there were only 10 pages left because I wasn't ready to get done with it so soon. Yes, NCT 127, ATEEZ, MCND, BTS helped me calm down in about 40 minutes and then I was able to finish reading it up. "My face was experiencing some extreme thermal flux of its own." Hahahah!!! This author made me laugh out loud and cry at the same time.

  8. 5 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    Oh this was so good. I got so into it that if anyone had asked me what I was doing this weekend, I would've been fully like: "Yes I am just in Iran with Darius this weekend how about you." It was so easy to feel in the story. Darius is biracial Persian/American and since he's visiting Iran for the first time (and he doesn't speak farsi) he so often felt lost and outside and like he didn't truly belong. So explained the culture and the holidays as he went and it was so easy to be swept up in expl Oh this was so good. I got so into it that if anyone had asked me what I was doing this weekend, I would've been fully like: "Yes I am just in Iran with Darius this weekend how about you." It was so easy to feel in the story. Darius is biracial Persian/American and since he's visiting Iran for the first time (and he doesn't speak farsi) he so often felt lost and outside and like he didn't truly belong. So explained the culture and the holidays as he went and it was so easy to be swept up in exploring his heritage with him. I heart. ➸ It also had thoroughly good depression rep. Absolute shout out to ownvoices authors who bare their soul on the page, because that is not easy ok. Darius has been depressed ever since he was a really young teen, so this is his life. But like he has no "reason" to be and that chews at him. Depression doesn't work that way WE KNOW THAT. Darius knows that. But (as also a depressed person with no "reason") I just connected with him so hugely. He talks about the wild emotional mood swings and the isolation and the anxiety spirals. It was just A+ excellently discussed. (view spoiler)[And I almost CRIED when his dad was talking about how he nearly killed himself when Darius was about 7, so that's why he pulled away from their relationship. afsjdkal. Depression is horrible and cruel and scary and I think the book captured that while not being uber dark also. (hide spoiler)] (((also shout out to the fact it was a book with depression, but that wasn't the catalyst or Thing Darius had to work through. It was part of his life but the book underlined how you could just go on living plus manage your depression))) ➸ It was MASSIVELY about family! I loved this! Just getting to be with Darius as he meets his Iranian relatives for the first time, gets to know his grandparents, eats absolutely all the delicious amazing holiday food. oh oh. I had such a good time. (I don't want to sound like I demand ownvoices authors walk white people thru their culture, but I really loved learning about this and soaking up all the explanations and the "touristy" perspective of the sights they went to see.) And Darius' grandma is sooo nice. I just loved how they all said "I love you" so often and it was so special and close omg. And his parents loved each other and Darius has an epic ball of sparkles for a little sister (I listened to the audio so I don't know how to write her name haha). Who he loves!! Yay for big brothers taking care of their smol sisters! ➸ And the friendship between Darius and Sohrab was amazing. I think it was softly coded queer (as in Darius was questioning?) but it mostly focused on how he felt he had his first true friend with Sohrab, how they could be themselves and it was okay. It was such a soft and loving story about friendship and family and figuring out how you fit in the world. There's this one part where Sohrab says "We have a saying in Farsi. It translates ‘your place was empty.’ We say it when we miss somebody." And I love that. And it's not just Darius finding his place amongst his Persian family, but he's finding his place just being HIM.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    3.5 stars A solid YA novel I would recommend to fans of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda . Darius the Great Is Not Okay did not blow me away, but I appreciated several parts of it, in particular its emphasis on Persian/Iranian culture, its careful portrayal of depression, and its focus on friendship. With the awful current political climate, Adib Khorram's rendering of Iran felt like a much needed respite from the racist and problematic images we receive from mainstream media. Khorram's depic 3.5 stars A solid YA novel I would recommend to fans of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda . Darius the Great Is Not Okay did not blow me away, but I appreciated several parts of it, in particular its emphasis on Persian/Iranian culture, its careful portrayal of depression, and its focus on friendship. With the awful current political climate, Adib Khorram's rendering of Iran felt like a much needed respite from the racist and problematic images we receive from mainstream media. Khorram's depiction of Darius's depression felt intentional and authentic too, such as how we see him struggle with excessive rumination right on the page. Finally, I liked the friendship between Darius and Sohrab. So rarely we do get to see soft, tender friendships between two young men, especially one that does not turn explicitly romantic, so I found their connection wonderful. Similar to how I felt about Simon, I wanted more depth from this novel. While I liked Darius and Sohrab's frienship, I felt like their conversations could have been longer, or more disclosing even. Sohran has an immense impact on Darius, so I wished for more content to explain that impact, beyond basic validation and vulnerability (see the relationship in Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe for an example, supported by beautiful writing too.) I also wanted more depth from Darius's relationship with his dad. While their relationship had nicely written tension throughout the book, the one scene that resolved that tension felt too neat - I wanted more content that addressed masculinity, intricate father and son dynamics, or how mental illness can make us mean to the people we love. Despite these qualms, I still liked this novel and would recommend it tot those intrigued by its synopsis. While the book did not move my heart too much, it makes a nice addition to the YA genre.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Katie B

    Darius Kellner is what he likes to call a Fractional Persian as his mother was born and raised in Iran but his dad is white. Although he has a nightly ritual of watching Star Trek reruns with his father, the rest of the time Darius feels like he is a big disappointment to his dad. The family makes a trip to Iran to visit relatives and there Darius meets Sohrab, the teenage neighbor of his grandparents. This is a YA story of feeling like you don't belong and learning to accept who you are. I reall Darius Kellner is what he likes to call a Fractional Persian as his mother was born and raised in Iran but his dad is white. Although he has a nightly ritual of watching Star Trek reruns with his father, the rest of the time Darius feels like he is a big disappointment to his dad. The family makes a trip to Iran to visit relatives and there Darius meets Sohrab, the teenage neighbor of his grandparents. This is a YA story of feeling like you don't belong and learning to accept who you are. I really enjoyed the author's subtle approach in regards to certain topics which in my opinion makes it stand out among other books in the genre. I don't think everything always has to be spelled out for the reader or every loose end wrapped up in order to appreciate a story. By far the thing I loved most about the book was the focus on culture and the role it played in Darius feeling like he just didn't quite belong. I liked how the book explored the different relationships Darius had with family members and thought having not just Darius but his father also deal with mental health issues really added to the story. Definitely recommend especially if you are looking to hear from a voice that isn't commonly represented in fiction. Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Lanz

    Richly cultural and beautifully real, Darius The Great is Not Okay was a truly wonderful book. “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.” ~★~ What is this book about? ~★~ Darius is a half Iranian teenager that hardly fits in at home in America. He knows more about hobbits and Star Trek than social cues, and the only thing he has in common with his father is their clinical depression. When Da Richly cultural and beautifully real, Darius The Great is Not Okay was a truly wonderful book. “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.” ~★~ What is this book about? ~★~ Darius is a half Iranian teenager that hardly fits in at home in America. He knows more about hobbits and Star Trek than social cues, and the only thing he has in common with his father is their clinical depression. When Darius learns that his grandfather has a worsening brain tumour, he and his family go on a trip to Iran to visit him. The culture and people come as a shock to Darius at first, but then he meets Sohrab, and the Persian part of him feels more at home than ever. The two develop an unbreakable bond of friendship, and Darius is able to learn a lot about both himself and his heritage. “How could I be a tourist in my own past?” ~★~ This was by far the most authentic, vividly cultural book I’ve ever read, and I loved it to pieces. Adib Khorram was able to create crystal clear scenery and a lovely atmosphere through his own Iranian background. I feel I know so much more than I first did about the Middle East. Darius, oh Darius. I can’t stress just how much his character means to me. The way his depression was handled was amazing, the growth in his relationship with his father had me in tears. Teenagers everywhere will easily be able to relate to this beautiful character because of his faults and struggles. It was nothing short of breathtaking to follow Darius’ journey of self discovery. “...love was and opportunity, not a burden.” The aspect of budding friendship demonstrated through Darius and Sohrab was wonderully heartfelt. I couldn’t help but feel a peculiar attachment towards the two and their blossoming relationship. The overarching theme of self discovery and family was handled in a way I have trouble describing. Darius harbors such a strong love for both his parents and his younger sister, their interactions left me feeling a certain warmth. This book was beautiful, I’ll gladly say it a thousand times over again.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Corey

    As I've gotten older, I've developed a curiosity about/longing for connection to my Persian heritage that I didn't have as a younger person. I couldn't tell you where exactly this sudden interest came from, but I have lately found myself following the news about Iran, and asking my grandparents about the old country, and, of course, reading a lot of novels by Iranian-American authors. What I'm trying to say, in short, is that I was primed to like this book. I'd heard about it months ago, when th As I've gotten older, I've developed a curiosity about/longing for connection to my Persian heritage that I didn't have as a younger person. I couldn't tell you where exactly this sudden interest came from, but I have lately found myself following the news about Iran, and asking my grandparents about the old country, and, of course, reading a lot of novels by Iranian-American authors. What I'm trying to say, in short, is that I was primed to like this book. I'd heard about it months ago, when the author was awarded a six-figure advance by Dial, and when my girlfriend managed to get her hands on a galley*, I dove into it almost right away. But the book, unfortunately, is bad. And not, mind you, bad in a failed-to-meet-expectations way (it's bad in that way too, but more to the point), but bad in a "show-don't-tell," Creative Writing 101 way. DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY by Adib Khorram follows the story of Darius, a teenager living in Washington state, born to an Iranian mother and a white father. Darius is a self-identified Treckie, and in stereotypically Treckie fashion, falls prey to the usual social pitfalls: he's picked on by his classmates in school, he has a difficult time making friends, and he is frustrated over and over by his own inability to read (as he refers to them with annoying frequency) "Social Cues"**. The first third of the book is spent establishing Darius' social ineptitude, and of course, his Persianness. And here enters one of the author's greatest failings in this novel: it's as though instead of building a convincing, three-dimensional character by perfecting a voice and ascribing to that character compelling idiosyncrasies, and establishing the character's nuanced worldview, Khorram has seen fit to simply make the character Persian. Indeed, the most interesting thing about Darius is that he's Persian. His obsession with tea, his longing to learn Farsi, his takes on Nowruz and Persian cuisine... such are the dubious foundations on which Darius is constructed. Take away the Persianness, and who is Darius? Well, for an idea, let's take a look at a typical conversation had by Darius and another character: "Did you have a nice time, maman?" [My grandmother asked me] "Yeah. Um. Babou showed me Darius the first." "Where your name came from." I nodded. "I wish you had seen it sooner. I wish you lived here." "Really?" "Yes, of course. I miss you. And I wish you could know your family history better. You know, for Yazdis, family history is very important." "Um."*** Without his Persianness, in other words, Darius is a socially isolated, monosyllabic, and not-very-well-defined character. Which is not only a writerly failing on Khorram's part, but somewhat sociopolitically problematic. I am, on the one hand, cheered by the proliferation of Iranian-American literature since the advent of the Trump era, and on the other hand, a little concerned by the commoditization and solidification of the Iranian-American identity, of which Khorram seems guilty here****. With his Persian identity and his extreme social awkwardness established, then, it is quickly learned that Darius' grandfather (still living in Iran) has a terminal brain tumor and is quickly approaching the end of his life. In the span of 20 or so pages, Darius' mother decides to take the family to her hometown of Yazd for a week, so that the children can meet their grandfather before he passes. This potentially rich and moving plotline, however, turns out to be a McGuffin for the real story at the heart of DARIUS THE GREAT, in which Darius finally finds a friend in Sohrab, his grandfather's neighbor's child. Sohrab is a charming, athletic boy around Darius' age, with a winning smile (repeatedly referred to as a "squint"). Sohrab is nonetheless socially outcast due to local prejudice against Bahá'ís as well as the fact that his father was taken political prisoner during the Green Revolution protests that took place several years before the novel is set. After a meet-cute involving a post-soccer-game shower*****, Sohrab and Darius find themselves "joined at the shoulder," and (without any spoilers), the most probable narrative arc unfolds from there: there are confidences, moments of adorable whimsy, fights and reconciliations. In other words, not exactly the kind of stakes that are going to blow anyone away. The novel is, in short, a fluff piece, easy to read and easy to forget. Which might be fine if the prose wasn't so clumsy and poorly composed. See, for instance, Khorram's habit of using unnecessary line breaks to make overly simple thoughts sound profound******. Or the annoying repetition of certain phrases, which are again presumably supposed to make up for the lack of work done to characterize Darius (see especially, "That's normal./Right?" and "Soulless Minions of Orthdoxy," which is how Darius refers to bullies and is amusing the first time but less so the two-dozenth time). Again, it's not that the book is bad relative to other published novels. It's that the book is so bad, it's difficult to understand how exactly it got published in the first place. It's repetitive and clumsily written and, despite the large font size and generous spacing of the physical text, somehow a chore to read--it took me weeks to get through this. And moreover, there's a hollowness and empty sentimentality at the novel's core that not only fails to make any meaning of the Persian-American experience, but makes the reader feel kind of sad and betrayed at the hands of Khorram. So, if you're looking for a good Persian-American novel in this age of American hostility towards Middle Easterners, might I direct you to Porochista Khakpour's brilliant Sons and Other Flammable Objects? *A request is made at the beginning of the galley to note somewhere in any reviews of the book that my copy was an uncorrected proof, so consider that noted. **Darius spends so much time thinking about whether certain utterances or actions of those around him are "Social Cues" (capitalization sic), that the reader occasionally wonders whether or not Darius is on the Spectrum, but there's no definitive evidence one way or the other. (Likely, it's simply a failure of Khorram's to develop Darius' voice: in general, one of the things that irked me about the book is the way Khoram totally failed to nail the voice of the contemporary American teenager. Darius is supposed to be about 14 or 15, but he often comes off sounding about three or four years younger). ***Not to harp on the possible-autism thing, but Darius is more or less this non-verbal throughout the novel, again making one wonder... ****Not to mention the slightly offensive and patronizing attitude of the publishing industry through all of it; I very much doubt this novel would have earned its six-figure advance had the 2016 US Presidential election turned out differently. *****Another thing that's left frustratingly opaque is the homoerotic tension between Darius and Sohrab. It's never said explicitly that Darius is queer, but there are a few heavily suggestive moments. There is, for instance, the aforementioned shower scene, in which Sohrab and a few other boys make fun of Darius' uncircumcised penis. This is in addition to the curious frequency with which S and D get touchy-feely with each other (Sohrab is perpetually putting his arm around Darius' shoulder) and the endless physical descriptions of Sohrab related to the reader by Darius (e.g., "He was kicking his soccer ball around... barefoot and shirtless. Sweat plastered his short hair to his temples, and the nape of his neck.") And finally, there's a "resources" page at the end of the novel, directing readers to organizations like The Trevor Project and The Trans Lifeline... Khoram might have been able to pull off this ambiguity (again, not un-problematic, considering the perils of being queer in Iran's Islamic Republic) had the rest of the novel contained any kind of nuance. DARIUS, though, is otherwise as subtle as a seizure. *****Literally thumbing through the book at random here, e.g.: "He felt safe with me/Maybe that's the thing I liked about Sohrab best of all," "Mom was calling me by my Iranian name/I wished she would make up her mind,"That night, Dad didn't tell me he loved me/I didn't tell him either."

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mrinmayi

    4.5 stars Buddy read with MONICA PHOEBE JOEY RACHEL CHANDLER This book was heart warming at one moment and the next l was sobbing like a baby So basically a roller coaster of emotions My emotions while reading this book : I could relate to Darius in so many ways My parents belong to two different cultures So there were many situations in the books that I was familiar with Darius was trying his best to become a part of the Persian culture and I was so proud of him!! I loved his character arc🥰 Though I would 4.5 stars Buddy read with MONICA PHOEBE JOEY RACHEL CHANDLER This book was heart warming at one moment and the next l was sobbing like a baby So basically a roller coaster of emotions My emotions while reading this book : I could relate to Darius in so many ways My parents belong to two different cultures So there were many situations in the books that I was familiar with Darius was trying his best to become a part of the Persian culture and I was so proud of him!! I loved his character arc🥰 Though I would have preferred the character development to take place around 50% of the book rather than 80% That being said this would have been a 5 star read if the ending was not rushed I kept on wanting more of the story Special mention to the Irani food I kept on nagging my mother to give me falooda and berry pulao😅 Just adding this biryani gif here: I must thank my STALKER friend JOE GOLDBERG for this gif... Because of her I saw a 5 min biryani AD.... Never thought I would see such a long biryani AD Sorting CEREMONY ❤❤ Darius: Slytherclaw?? Sohrab: Hufflepuff Laleh: Gryffindor Stephen: Slytherin Darius' mother : Ravenclaw Mamou: Hufflepuff Babou: Slytherin

  14. 5 out of 5

    Em Lost In Books

    I used to stay away from YA but this year it's a different story. I have read many YA books this year, so I can safely says that I am not averse this genre as I used to be 2-3 years ago. I saw this book making rounds on my GR home page repeatedly and one fine Saturday I caved in and started reading this. I have to confess, to me blurb without "Iran" is the avg blurb that I read for this genre. This story revolves around Darius who is on his first visit to Iran to visit his ailing maternal grand I used to stay away from YA but this year it's a different story. I have read many YA books this year, so I can safely says that I am not averse this genre as I used to be 2-3 years ago. I saw this book making rounds on my GR home page repeatedly and one fine Saturday I caved in and started reading this. I have to confess, to me blurb without "Iran" is the avg blurb that I read for this genre. This story revolves around Darius who is on his first visit to Iran to visit his ailing maternal grand father. If the feeling like an outsider in his own family is subtle back in America, here that feeling is overwhelming. He is perhaps the only kid in Yzad who is on medication for depression or at least that's how he felt. His first time in a new country, language barrier, cultural difference, this was too much for Darius. But in this new country he also find a friend in Sohrab. He is easy to talk, and which helps Darius to bring out of his shell. But I think it is the father-son relationship in this book that I loved the most. Both are on medication for depression. Darius always thought that his father is ashamed of him because of his obesity, depression and that's why he keeps an hawk eye on his eating habits. He is ashamed of Daruis's depression. Being in Yzad brought these together and broke the ice that they both had felt previously. It was cute to see the duo interacting. I don't know why this is under the lgbt shelf. Sure Darius and Shorab are close but it was never said that they like each other romantically. They loved and cared deeply for each other but that is also friendship. I don't know why a story about two boys must be put in lgbt shelf. Anyways this was a lovely coming of age story. Give it a try when you want to read a YA which is not all about America.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ There are no bells and whistles for this one. Some books don’t need them. Darius the Great Is Not Okay is the story of a young boy who takes a trip to Iran with his family when they discover his grandfather is terminally ill. It’s about finding a place in the world when you feel like you’re nothing but a social outcast. More importantly, it’s about clinical depression. And it is DONE. SO. WELL. You can tell the author struggles/has str Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ There are no bells and whistles for this one. Some books don’t need them. Darius the Great Is Not Okay is the story of a young boy who takes a trip to Iran with his family when they discover his grandfather is terminally ill. It’s about finding a place in the world when you feel like you’re nothing but a social outcast. More importantly, it’s about clinical depression. And it is DONE. SO. WELL. You can tell the author struggles/has struggled personally. Someone who has not dealt with the lying liar who lies which is depression might find Darius to be a bit of a pill – overly sensitive and quick to take offense – the kind of boy certain members of society would refer to as a “Snowflake.” I’ll admit there were moments when, despite my best efforts, even I felt that way too and in my head I was screaming “PLEASE JUST TALK!!!” or “THEY DIDN’T MEAN TO HURT YOUR FEELINGS.” But . . . . . Sometimes making it impossible to break out of the spiral. My only “complaint” with this story was that Darius was presented as an older teen, complete with job, but he read more like a middle-grader. That’s the age group I’d recommend this book to. My other “complaint” (for lack of a better word) has to do with the shelving of this book as “LGBT.” I’m assuming it stems from the following: “Did you ever think that you wouldn’t get picked on so much if you weren’t so …” “So what, Dad?” But he didn’t answer. What could he possibly say. If readers want to fill in that blank with “gay” it’s certainly their priority, but it could easily be filled in with “nerdy” or “mopey” or “awkward” or “unsocial” or on and on and on. I read plenty of coming of age/first love/what-have-you stories – this wasn’t one.

  16. 4 out of 5

    abby

    Darius Kellner isn't sure he fits in anywhere. At school, he's the Fractional Persian, the kid who sticks out as being just a bit different. At home, he struggles to connect with his dad, who is Zero Persian but rather a blond Teutonic ideal. He doesn't speak Farsi like his mom and little sister. Even the way he makes tea seems called into question. But when his grandfather is diagnosed with a brain tumor, Darius is thrown into his most fish-out-of-water situation yet: Iran. He is in a country wh Darius Kellner isn't sure he fits in anywhere. At school, he's the Fractional Persian, the kid who sticks out as being just a bit different. At home, he struggles to connect with his dad, who is Zero Persian but rather a blond Teutonic ideal. He doesn't speak Farsi like his mom and little sister. Even the way he makes tea seems called into question. But when his grandfather is diagnosed with a brain tumor, Darius is thrown into his most fish-out-of-water situation yet: Iran. He is in a country where he doesn't understand the customs of know anyone-- not really even the family he's there to visit and has only spoken to through a computer screen. But in this strange world comes Darius's first real friend and a greater understanding of who he is. He might live up to his great namesake after all. I would call this book a "quiet contemporary." The story is entirely character driven. I really enjoyed this. I did think Darius was a little too hard on his dad and it was weird the way he refered to him as a Ubermensch. I think this is being marketed as LGBT but there is only the vaugest hint of that. This is a simple, sweet coming of age story set in a culture rarely written about in English. Thank you to Bookish First for providing me with an advanced copy of this book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Zitong Ren

    Oohoohoo, look at my emotions go on a rollercoaster. I mean, I don’t tear up very often reading books, maybe it’s because I haven’t gotten to the really depressing part of literature yet. Like, when I read this, I had some tears in my eyes, especially at this one scene near the end, but it wasn’t like full on sobbing, so I don’t know if I should be glad that a book has yet to destroy me like that, yet(I mean I know it’s coming eventually). What I’m getting at is, is that not a lot of books can m Oohoohoo, look at my emotions go on a rollercoaster. I mean, I don’t tear up very often reading books, maybe it’s because I haven’t gotten to the really depressing part of literature yet. Like, when I read this, I had some tears in my eyes, especially at this one scene near the end, but it wasn’t like full on sobbing, so I don’t know if I should be glad that a book has yet to destroy me like that, yet(I mean I know it’s coming eventually). What I’m getting at is, is that not a lot of books can make me feel this way, which clearly meant that this book did something right for me to care this much. I was sort of debating on whether to give it four or five stars, and normally if I have to think about giving a book a four or five, I generally go with a four. For like the first eighty percent or so, I was feeling around a four star, and it wasn’t the last twenty percent or so that I did get a bit emotional and that last bit was a solid five stars. That being said, it is a very high four stars, and who, knows I may change my mind in the future. There were so many aspects of this that I enjoyed, if not loved. Darius is an absolute solid character that was straight up well written, and I could really feel for him. He also has to deal with depression and constant bullying, and many of the statements made against him are incredibly racist. Reading this sort of stuff is eye opening and also makes me grateful that despite being an Asian living in a Western country, that I haven’t had any serious racial attacks made on me. I liked Darius’ character development and you could really see him grapple with certain things that occurred during the book and he ends up being a much stronger person than he was at the start of the novel. I originally actually thought that this was going to be centred around a gay romance and that it was m/m, simply because I had heard that it was queer. It certainly appeared to be a queer novel and Darius is a queer character, even though it isn’t explicitly stated in the text. What was really great however was that the book actually focussed on this friendship between Darius and Sohrab, which was wonderful. It largely felt really realistic, considering the things the characters have to go through and what their past experience with friends has been like. It was genuinely just such a beautiful friendship and I’m so glad that is was just a friendship instead of a romance as we really need more friendships in novels and normalise that there isn’t a romance. There were some aspects that weren’t entirely developed or explained, but for the most part, I really liked the friendship between the two of them. Another really great aspect of this novel was the family dynamics between Darius and his Mamou, Babou, who he is meeting for the first time, and also his relationship between his parents and his sister. There were some really great moments and at how Darius gets to properly know his family in Iran and see the things he has missed out on previously. There’s also the relationship with his Dad, with is often tenuous at best and to see it develop and have their bond become strong again and to learn the truth of the matter, which was just so sweet. Laleh, being only eight, didn’t exactly get a lot of character development, but Darius is able to learn to many things about himself and his family through her and to really help find himself. It’s great that this is an own voices novel, as it follows Persian character who has depression, much like the author, as I feel many things are much more authentic, especially dealing with things like depression and what they can mean culturally. It also helped me learn, or at least understand some basic aspects of Persian culture and what it is sort of like and really shows how contrasting and different it is to other cultures. It was great exploring a bit about another culture that I didn’t know a whole lot about and then I can go on and do more research about certain things that I have been introduced to. Also being an Australian, I actually though that Darius was seventeen, when he is actually liked fifteen because I got the names of the high school years wrong, but once I made that realisation I was able to even sort of realise and become aware of how important certain things were for Darius. 8.5/10

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (LoverofTBR)

    Notes BR with Diana, Mrin, Rue, Tani, and Mari! Ladies, I am going to consider this BR a success. For the most part, lol (looking at you, Brekker)! Rating 4 ‘it’s okay not to be okay’ 🌟 Review Wow, look at me reading another book outside of my usual genres! I don’t read YA contemporary novels anymore, especially that deal with heavy issues including mental health, because I use books as my escapism tool and I don’t want to face reality while I am immersed in a novel. If that makes s Notes BR with Diana, Mrin, Rue, Tani, and Mari! Ladies, I am going to consider this BR a success. For the most part, lol (looking at you, Brekker)! Rating 4 ‘it’s okay not to be okay’ 🌟 Review Wow, look at me reading another book outside of my usual genres! I don’t read YA contemporary novels anymore, especially that deal with heavy issues including mental health, because I use books as my escapism tool and I don’t want to face reality while I am immersed in a novel. If that makes sense at all. I’m glad, however, that I got a chance to pick up this novel for our BR! Imagine my surprise when I was totally enraptured in Darius’s coming of age journey. 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. Darius Kellner is a teenager (specific age was not specified in the novel) who has been diagnosed with clinical depression at a very young age, depression that he inherited from his father, Stephen Kellner. Darius The Great is Not Okay is a book about Darius’s journey to feeling comfortable in his own skin. The highlight of this journey was his trip to Iran and the special friend he made there, Sohrab. His friendship with Sohrab plays a pivotal role in Darius getting better at communication and building his confidence, the confidence that has swindled as he was growing up due to bullying at school, feeling left out in learning about his Persian culture, and his rocky relationship with his father. The thing is, I never had a friend like Sohrab before. One who understood me without even trying. Who knew what it was like to be stuck on the outside because of one little thing that set you apart. What made this book powerful was the simplistic writing. It was never loud and in your face, instead it had a gripping subtleness to it that left room for the reader to understand and infer the reactions and emotions of characters using the context, dialogue, and even your own life experiences. The pacing of the book was great, but the pacing of Darius’s character development was a bit lacking. I’d finally managed to open up the well inside me. I didn’t think I could block it again. The character development that I was excited to read didn’t show up at the expected 50-60% instead, it resulted at around 80% making the ending seem a bit rushed. But the ending, and even most parts of the book, didn’t lack in leaving me a raw, emotional mess. The cultural references, Darius’s struggle of fitting in, the innocence of a new budding friendship, the journey of learning how to understand and communicate feelings, and more importantly, the refreshing way that the effects of clinical depression on relationships are portrayed are all the reasons why I loved this book. “It’s okay not to be okay.” I know this book will stay with me for a long time to come. And I am very glad we are getting a sequel this year! The romance fanatic in me can’t help but be excited that we have two potential love interests. Very excited to see where the second book goes!

  19. 5 out of 5

    ✨ jamieson ✨

    I liked this a lot, my rating is somewhere between a 3 and 4 star I'm still deciding. The focus on friendship and anxieties around culture/diaspora was really interesting. I've never read a book set in Iran so that element had me so interested throughout. The depression rep is also GREAT. Just overall great rep here. (This is ownvoices Persian & depression rep I believe) The only thing I didn't LOVE was that I thought the characters could have been more fleshed out, especially Sohrab and Laleh. B I liked this a lot, my rating is somewhere between a 3 and 4 star I'm still deciding. The focus on friendship and anxieties around culture/diaspora was really interesting. I've never read a book set in Iran so that element had me so interested throughout. The depression rep is also GREAT. Just overall great rep here. (This is ownvoices Persian & depression rep I believe) The only thing I didn't LOVE was that I thought the characters could have been more fleshed out, especially Sohrab and Laleh. But at the same time this was a pretty short book so I get there isn't heaps of time. I definitely recommend this though, especially if you're interested in friendship and family dynamics. Psa though: this does not have queer rep for people thinking it did!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Arunimaa

    I don't think it's possible for me to actually be able to externalize how much this book meant to me. And how dear it has come to be to my heart. I had some level 150 break downs while reading this book. And I loved every second of it. I know what you're thinking and no, I am not a masochist. This books sure has its heartbreaking elements but they aren't "sad" sad. They are more touching than sad. It's just one of those books which make you have really wholesome break downs. And if you don't wha I don't think it's possible for me to actually be able to externalize how much this book meant to me. And how dear it has come to be to my heart. I had some level 150 break downs while reading this book. And I loved every second of it. I know what you're thinking and no, I am not a masochist. This books sure has its heartbreaking elements but they aren't "sad" sad. They are more touching than sad. It's just one of those books which make you have really wholesome break downs. And if you don't what I mean by that, there is only one way to find out - READ THIS BOOK. Darius The Great Is Not Okay is probably the most beautiful and touching book I have read in a while. It is so special to me in ways that I can't even put into words right now. Darius is such a beautiful boy. And all I want to do is engulf him in an eternal hug. The main reason why I loved this book so much is that it made me feel in the most realistic ways possible. The emotional and "feel" value of this book doesn't come from some major life-changing events. It's the littlest of things. Of thoughts. Of emotions, that were so realistic to me. Of course, I don't mean to say that I completely knew what Darius was going through. His battles are different and so are his circumstances. But still, there is plenty to relate to. Certain loops of thoughts that he would get stuck in, the moments of self-doubt, inadequacy from just the tiniest of exchanges. Things that don't ever seem problematic in the larger scheme of things but can actually sometimes really hurt. It was the fact that something doesn't have to go terribly and majorly wrong in your life to make it suck sometimes. Sometimes it's the smallest of the things that make you sad, petty and feel inadequate. And it's natural. And it's okay. Even if it's not okay, that's okay. I enjoyed and adored each and every character and their relationships so much. This is really a beautiful, feel-good book that just highlights the beauty of relationships. Not romantic relationships. Just relationships in general. The beauty of masculine affection. We always see very affectionate female friendship bonds, but we rarely see male ones. Not like the one Darioush and Sohrab shared. It was truly a beautiful thing to witness. All I would like to say at the end is that this is one of those books that each and every person should read once in their lives. P.S. I fell in love with Yzad and Iranian food.

  21. 5 out of 5

    ;3

    “we have a saying in farsi. It translates to ‘your place was empty.’ we say it when we miss somebody." "your place was empty before. but this is your family. you belong here.” 🥺🥺🤧🤲🏼👏🏼 “we have a saying in farsi. It translates to ‘your place was empty.’ we say it when we miss somebody." "your place was empty before. but this is your family. you belong here.” 🥺🥺🤧🤲🏼👏🏼

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tani

    Tried and failed buddy read with Mary Poppins, Captain Jack Sparrow, Miranda Priestly, Bugs Bunny and Willy Wonka. Tried and failed buddy read with Mary Poppins, Captain Jack Sparrow, Miranda Priestly, Bugs Bunny and Willy Wonka.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Romie

    “You're okay,” he murmured. “No. I'm not.” “I know.” He rubbed my back up and down. “It's okay not to be okay.” I was a bit scared going into this book, because what if I ended up being the only human being not liking it? But, fortunately for me, I ended up really liking this beautiful story. It's a story that deals with so many important subjects: friendship, grief, clinical depression, the feeling of not belonging or being enough, and love between a father and son who don't really know how to talk “You're okay,” he murmured. “No. I'm not.” “I know.” He rubbed my back up and down. “It's okay not to be okay.” I was a bit scared going into this book, because what if I ended up being the only human being not liking it? But, fortunately for me, I ended up really liking this beautiful story. It's a story that deals with so many important subjects: friendship, grief, clinical depression, the feeling of not belonging or being enough, and love between a father and son who don't really know how to talk. This book is important. I loved Darius with all my heart. I, a French-Vietnamese woman, identified with this sweet fat biracial American-Iranian boy suffering from clinical depression. The fact that Darius dealt with so many of the things I had to deal with while growing up and still do now nearly made me cry a few times. As someone who grew up fat, with clinical depression, as someone who had to deal with racism because I'm biracial, I saw so much of myself in Darius. And then there's the fact that, even though it's not expressly said, Darius is gay, and it plays in the story. Darius is an extremely interesting character with a personality of his own. The way this book deals with clinical depression is absolutely amazing. Both Darius and his dad suffer from it, and I think it's one of the best representations I've ever read. It's extremely hard to find a book that makes me feel like my own clinical depression is not just something that's happening to me. This book gave me not one, but two characters, who talk about mental health and have to deal with their depression daily. The fact that they even talk about it together was overwhelming. I'm so so thankful for this representation. The family aspect of this book was incredible as well. Darius, his mom, dad and little sister go to Iran because his grandfather is suffering from a brain tumor and they don't know how long he still has to live. Darius goes there for the very first time, which means it's also the first time he gets to meet his family in real life: his granddad, his grandmom, uncles, aunts, cousins... a multitude of people he only used to know via skype are now in front of him. I loved the relationship he had with his grandmother, it was so sweet and genuine. I loved how we got to see the relationship between Darius and his dad evolve, how they learnt so much about each other while in Iran. This review is a mess, and I'm truly sorry about it. I just don't know how to put all my thoughts together when it comes to this book, I wish I could. 4.25

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Buckby

    Suicide isn't the only way you can lose someone to depression. actual rating: 4.5/5 stars Wow, i enjoyed that book a lot and for Adib's debut novel it was a real good one to start with! Plot: This book centres around Darius Kellner who is a Persian American who has an American father and a Persian mother, who is just going through the motions of any teenager at his age. However Darius is living with depression and dealing with the day in and day out jokes from his classmates, he's just trying t Suicide isn't the only way you can lose someone to depression. actual rating: 4.5/5 stars Wow, i enjoyed that book a lot and for Adib's debut novel it was a real good one to start with! Plot: This book centres around Darius Kellner who is a Persian American who has an American father and a Persian mother, who is just going through the motions of any teenager at his age. However Darius is living with depression and dealing with the day in and day out jokes from his classmates, he's just trying to get through the day. Darius and his family are soon heading on a vacation to stay with his mothers grandparents after only seeing them through a computer screen for his entire life they soon make their way to Yazd, Iran to stay with them, However this trip is plagued with the fact that Dariu's grandfather has a brain tumour and doesn't have long left to live. I really am enjoying the fact that there are so many more own voices stories coming out in the YA book community because for me i do really enjoy learning about how other people in different cultures live and how different their lives may be to mine. Adib brought me into a culture that i really have little knowledge of and it was cool to learn about Persian culture and food. This book also deals with some pretty heavy topics that are now becoming more talked about in YA novels and in the book community more. Depression is a main factor in this book because Darius is living with clinical depression and is taking medication to help combat what he is going through and i really love how open Darius is about it however he is a little ashamed in the beginning of the book but blossoms to the fact he just learns to talk about it more and learns self acceptance within himself. I would also say that Darius has some anxiety thrown into the mix of his depression when he has that fear of disappointing his family especially his father. While reading this book i really found myself in Darius in that fact because this is exactly how i feel myself and it was such a spot on representation. Suicide isn't the only way you can lose someone to depression. Family is a real big part of this story and i loved seeing the dynamic of Dariu's family change from the beginning of the book to the end where we see a massive change and i must admit i did find myself tearing up towards the end when Darius and his family left Iran because i can only imagine how hard that was leaving people behind you love. One thing i also enjoyed is how when this story ended there was still more room to add more in a sequel later on, so it could focus on a number of possibilities such as Darius sexuality, life after leaving Iran and his future friendship with Sohrab. It's like real life just because one chapter of your life has ended doesn't mean that life itself is over and its just the beginning of a new one. I had never been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, but Dr. Howell said that anxiety and depression often went hand in hand. Comorbidity, he called it. It was an ominous-sounding word. It made me anxious. Adib's debut novel was very well written and i found myself really enjoying this book, from good representation, family, culture and so much more i cannot wait to see what this author has in store next! because i will defiantly be picking up his next book!

  25. 5 out of 5

    lily ☁️

    Malanie said that this book reminds her of me, because it is “friendship, cleverness, and fluffy wholesomeness, which = Lily’s vibe”, so you bet I’m going to read it!! And if I don’t love this, I might as well crawl into a dark hole somewhere far away from civilization, where no one can find me (which incidentally suits me just fine, because uni starts next week). Blog | Bloglovin’ | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter Malanie said that this book reminds her of me, because it is “friendship, cleverness, and fluffy wholesomeness, which = Lily’s vibe”, so you bet I’m going to read it!! And if I don’t love this, I might as well crawl into a dark hole somewhere far away from civilization, where no one can find me (which incidentally suits me just fine, because uni starts next week). Blog | Bloglovin’ | Instagram | Tumblr | Twitter

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rue

    🥀 Plot This story is about Dauris who can't seem to fit anywhere and is constantly teased at school for being fat and Zoroastrian. Like his father he is diagnosed with clinical depression but instead of bringing the father and son closer it drives them apart. Everything changes when they decided to take a trip to Iran to see his ailing grandfather in person rather than on video call. 🥀Thoughts The real question here is how old is he in this book? "A lot of people thought so, because she w 🥀 Plot This story is about Dauris who can't seem to fit anywhere and is constantly teased at school for being fat and Zoroastrian. Like his father he is diagnosed with clinical depression but instead of bringing the father and son closer it drives them apart. Everything changes when they decided to take a trip to Iran to see his ailing grandfather in person rather than on video call. 🥀Thoughts The real question here is how old is he in this book? "A lot of people thought so, because she was eight years younger than me" His sister is 8 years old, now do the math. If you are like Rue that's so simple he's 16. Well, guess what I thought so too. But then the author threw in this. "Parviz was twenty-three, and Navid was twenty-one, which made them closer to me in age than anyone, except Nazgol the Nineteen-Year-Old Nazgûl." The reason why I am pointing it out is because his inner monologue is somewhat of a child and a whining one at that. •The problem here is his depression isn't explained properly. One of the part about reading is getting to see the world through the eyes of someone who's perspective I might not have fully considered before. Due to the fact that it's not addressed well I had to fill in the gaps for someone's Mental health, which works for mystry/thriller as we have the freedom to judge a flawed character. But for a realistic novel like this one it just makes the author ignorant for brushing it under the rug. •Another thing is the narrative voice is overly simplistic and repatative. It's like the author had programmed them to say certain words & phrases over and over. For instance Dauris says Um! "wow" for everything. And Sohrab squints a hell lot. Oh! Other phrase that's used multiple times would be "That's normal, right?" I don't know if it was author's stylistic approach, but it just didn't translate well as a dialogue. •Very one dimensional characters with no... It's very generic when narrated by Dauris. If you erase the fact that he is socially awkward and can't put words to his thoughts. Then it becomes a typical story about a guy getting bullied with all the cliché tropes the only thing different would be the setting. •Oh boy! Let's talk about the fight at the very end. What was the purpose of that? Was it necessary?(view spoiler)[ How would Dauris know about his dad getting killed? (hide spoiler)] And his explanation to why he did it was so dumb. (view spoiler)[“I was hurting. And you were there. And I knew how to make you hurt as bad as me.” Imagine being friends with someone who is creating a fasade of being friendly but on the inside he/she wants you to get hurt badly. (hide spoiler)] •Another thing, concerning his relationship with his father is that, well... there is none. Dauris tells us that his dad is disappointed in him, that he is critical of him. Indeed there's lots of TELLING but not enough SHOWING. Sure we see that his father is dismissive of the fact that Dauris is bullied in school, but there is little evidence to go off of explaining how or why his father is truly disappointed in his son. The redeeming quality of the book is definitely the culture and the way Iran is described with all it's glory and the decedent food. I also liked the little interactions with his grandma who I honestly believe has the most kindness bottled up in her. The wholesome sibling relationship is another refreshing take by the author portrayed by Dauris and his younger sister, Lahleh. (view spoiler)[ "The worst was watching Mom say good-bye to Babou. They knew they were never going to see each other again. I thought about what Mom had said: how she wished I had known him before. Back when he was warmer. Stronger. Happier. I knew she was saying good-bye to that Babou too. The one who carried her piggyback through the streets of Yazd. The one who tucked her in at night. The one who picked figs fresh from the tree for her every summer." This almost made me tear up. (hide spoiler)] I also liked the authors note near the very end it clarified a lot of my initial doubts regarding some of the character's action. But since i had already finished the book it didn't really help make the overall experience a little better. - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Us committing the same mistake again but this time with two new people and a different book. Buddy Reading with Mari, Rachel, Tani, Mrin & Diana.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Gemma ♕ Bookish Gems

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is absolutely beautiful. It a fantastic look at the effects of depression not just on the person going through it but on the people around them too. "Suicide isn't the only way you can lose someone to depression." Truer words were never spoken. Darius and his father had lost each other, both suffering under the same thing in different ways. Watching the struggle of their relationship had me on the verge of tears a lot and I’m not ashamed to admit that there were a couple of times where This book is absolutely beautiful. It a fantastic look at the effects of depression not just on the person going through it but on the people around them too. "Suicide isn't the only way you can lose someone to depression." Truer words were never spoken. Darius and his father had lost each other, both suffering under the same thing in different ways. Watching the struggle of their relationship had me on the verge of tears a lot and I’m not ashamed to admit that there were a couple of times where I cried outright. This book is powerful and heartbreaking and honest. I loved learning all about Persian culture alongside Darius and watching a friendship bloom between him and Sohrab. It was so nice to see Darius start to come out of himself with Sohrab and learn what it means to have a friend. When Sohrab’s father was killed it was like a punch to the gut because not only did it show the struggles of life in Iran but also it showed that when we are hurting, we always seem to lash out at those we love the most. That whole scene with Sohrab and Darius made me so unbelievably sad and I’m so glad that when Darius returned to the US, he and Sohrab were able to maintain friends. It was also great to see him start to be more sure of himself thanks to spending time with Sohrab so that when he went home, he felt like he could get back into “soccer” *British shudder :P* and we even saw that he was starting to let his walls down and there was a possibility of a friendship forming between him and one of his classmates. My favourite thing about this book though, is the evolving relationship between Darius and his father. Watching them drift further away from each other, before struggling back to each other; seeing the fear his dad had for him; understanding where that fear comes from…so beautifully done and really gets you right in the feels! I highly, highly recommend this book 😊 ************ Oh man...this book was so beautiful and emotional. RTC.

  28. 4 out of 5

    May 舞

    3.5 stars Thomas's review sums up my thoughts very well. I will also add that Darius addressing his father as "Stephen Kellner" or the "Ubermensch" and not "Dad" most of the time did a great job at portraying the tension and distance in their relationship. Not making romance the center of the novel is another point I appreciated. “I felt so helpless. Sohrab was hurting and there was nothing I could do. Nothing except sit there and be his friend. But maybe that was enough. Because Sohrab knew it was 3.5 stars Thomas's review sums up my thoughts very well. I will also add that Darius addressing his father as "Stephen Kellner" or the "Ubermensch" and not "Dad" most of the time did a great job at portraying the tension and distance in their relationship. Not making romance the center of the novel is another point I appreciated. “I felt so helpless. Sohrab was hurting and there was nothing I could do. Nothing except sit there and be his friend. But maybe that was enough. Because Sohrab knew it was okay to cry in front of me. He knew I wouldn't tell him not to have feelings. He felt safe with me.” ................... Pre-read review: I absolutely love the title and I hope that the book itself will be just as good ^-^

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anjal

    "It's okay not to be okay." this book tackles with a lot of relevant issues in a very subtle way. the writing is great and funny inspite of the issues being very heavy. it talks about - race, identity, sexuality, mental health, trauma, family, relationships and body image. Darius who is a teenager is diagnosed with depression at an early age and without giving too much away, it shows his struggles how often they are comorbid to each other. i loved his relationship with his dad. we got to see all "It's okay not to be okay." this book tackles with a lot of relevant issues in a very subtle way. the writing is great and funny inspite of the issues being very heavy. it talks about - race, identity, sexuality, mental health, trauma, family, relationships and body image. Darius who is a teenager is diagnosed with depression at an early age and without giving too much away, it shows his struggles how often they are comorbid to each other. i loved his relationship with his dad. we got to see all the ups and downs and also, all the characters were so well written even though the book is barely 300 pages long. if i had a dollar for every time my relatives talked about my weight, i'd be rolling in that dough lol. it's real, honest and raw without overtly talking about anything. i thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and can’t wait for the sequel. rating - 4/5

  30. 4 out of 5

    Julie Zantopoulos

    What a stunning audiobook. That author's note! Watching Darius deal with his depression and find his place in the world and within his family left me so soft. It's a beautiful story about Persian culture and also mental health and unconditional love. I'm so glad that I finally read this book thanks to ContemporaryAThon round 6. What a stunning audiobook. That author's note! Watching Darius deal with his depression and find his place in the world and within his family left me so soft. It's a beautiful story about Persian culture and also mental health and unconditional love. I'm so glad that I finally read this book thanks to ContemporaryAThon round 6.

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