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!
Author: Camryn Garrett
Published: October 29, 2019
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 1-5, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
In a community that isn’t always understanding, an HIV-positive teen must navigate fear, disclosure, and radical self-acceptance when she falls in love–and lust–for the first time. Powerful and uplifting, Full Disclosure will speak to fans of Angie Thomas and Nicola Yoon.
Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.
Keeping her viral load under control is easy, but keeping her diagnosis under wraps is not so simple. As Simone and Miles start going out for real–shy kisses escalating into much more–she feels an uneasiness that goes beyond butterflies. She knows she has to tell him that she’s positive, especially if sex is a possibility, but she’s terrified of how he’ll react! And then she finds an anonymous note in her locker: I know you have HIV. You have until Thanksgiving to stop hanging out with Miles. Or everyone else will know too.
Simone’s first instinct is to protect her secret at all costs, but as she gains a deeper understanding of the prejudice and fear in her community, she begins to wonder if the only way to rise above is to face the haters head-on…
Simone does not have an easy life: Born with HIV and having to change schools, living with both of her dads who won’t let her even see her gynecologist on her own, now she meets a boy she is interested in. But what about her HIV status and possible sex? She thinks things are going fine and then at her new school she gets an anonymous note in her locker…
If you want to read a novel with diversity then Full Disclosure will be the novel to read as it is extremely diverse. Full Disclosure talks very candidly about many subjects that most YA novels steer clear from: Sex and sexual health, vibrators, masturbation, and much more. It also raises awareness about HIV and how it can be transmitted that the reader may or may not be familiar with. It also shows how one faces life living with HIV and when/how they should choose to disclose their status to others.
Due to the nature of the novel, I would suggest parents read this novel first before passing it on to your teen. This would be to see if your teenager is ready to read a novel like this, but also for the parent to prepare themselves as they may find themselves having to answer questions that may be raised. I would say this would be for the older teenagers from ages 16 and up.
All of these characters are realistic and candid with their situations, and Simone and Miles are just cute together along with being honest and open with each other. In some ways they seem more mature than their age, which is understandable for Simone as she has been living with HIV her entire life
Full Disclosure is recommended!
George (Now being published as Melissa)
Author: Alex Gino
Published: August 25, 2015
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: October 25-26, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she’s not a boy. She knows she’s a girl.
George thinks she’ll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte’s Web. George really, really, REALLY wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can’t even try out for the part . . . because she’s a boy.
With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte — but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.
Forget what you personally believe about transgender people, we need more books like this! Whether this will be a book for a transgender child to read, this book can be for everyone as it shows how one person who feels they are very different from others can be their own person.
George is in 4th grade and though she physically looks like a boy, she knows in her heart that she is a girl. As the reader reads the novel, they see how George feels. She has not told anyone who she really is, including her family. Over the course of this short novel, George tells her best friend Kelly who she actually is and that she wants to be Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web in the school play and Kelly is all for that!
This is a novel of differences, acceptance, and coming together. This is a novel that shows how being different can make one person feel among other ‘normal’ people.
This is a novel written by trans author Alex Gino and the title was just changed from George to Melissa earlier this year. Here is a link that explains that change: https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-book-news/article/87750-alex-gino-debuts-new-title-and-cover-for-groundbreaking-trans-novel.html This book is one of the most banned books for a variety of reasons and I found out about it during Banned Books Week this year and decided to read it for myself. Though I am not a parent, I did really enjoy this novel and feel it would be appropriate for middle grades kids.
Depending on the version you read, George/ Melissa is highly recommended![Top]