Darius the Great is Not Okay
Series: Darius the Great #1
Author: Adib Khorram
Published: August 28, 2018
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
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.
This is a great story! To me, it’s the perfect coming of age story. There may be some teenage angst, but it doesn’t feel whiny. I’m no teenager anymore but I definitely related to Darius. Obviously, because we’re two different genders, there are some things that I’ll never really get. I mean, I never had to worry about circumcision the way the boys do. But the rest of it, not fitting in, loving things that aren’t cool, feeling like no one cares; I’ve been there! And bring in Star Trek and LOTR, I think Darius could be a kindred spirit. I also found his fascination with tea to be inspiring. I may not really like tea, but I can appreciate the little nuances. I think the relationship between Darius and Sohrab was really sweet. Khorram didn’t overdo it with the “everything has to be a woke lecture” thing and just let them be friends in a healthy and realistic way. By the time I got to the end, I was misty! Ok fine I was almost ugly crying but thankfully I didn’t full on ugly cry! I think this would be a really good one for those young nerds who haven’t figured out that fitting in isn’t all it’s cracked up to be yet. I definitely recommend it!