Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib KhorramDarius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius The Great Is Not Okay

byAdib Khorram

Hardcover | August 28, 2018

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about

Darius doesn't think he'll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this unforgettable debut introduces a brilliant new voice in contemporary YA.

“Heartfelt, tender, and so utterly real. I’d live in this book forever if I could.”
—Becky Albertalli, award-winning author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian—half, his mom’s side—and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life.
 
Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush—the original Persian version of his name—and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab.
 
Adib Khorram’s brilliant debut is for anyone who’s ever felt not good enough—then met a friend who makes them feel so much better than okay.
Adib Khorram is an author, a graphic designer, and a tea enthusiast. If he's not writing (or at his day job), you can probably find him trying to get his 100 yard Freestyle (SCY) under a minute, or learning to do a Lutz Jump. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.
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Title:Darius The Great Is Not OkayFormat:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 8.56 × 5.81 × 1.08 inPublished:August 28, 2018Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0525552960

ISBN - 13:9780525552963

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Why can't I hug a fictional character?! Oh my, Darius. Darius Who I Want To Hug So Badly. This sweet cinnamon roll of a character. Gosh this book will tug on your heart strings. I loved this book for a few reasons: one, because of Darius and his whole-bodied need for a friend, two, because it’s a YA book that takes place mostly out of the States (something I think we need more of), and three, the friendship that blossoms between Darius and Sohrab is just so freakin’ pure. So Darius is half Iranian, half American. He’s always felt out-of-place, whether it’s at school for being a geek or at home for feeling neglected by his father. Darius has serious daddy issues. When the family finds out that his mom’s father has a serious brain tumor, they go to Iran for a few weeks to spend time with him. Darius hadn’t been to Iran before, and he never really learned the language (a sore spot since his younger sister did), so this fish-out-of-water is now totally bug-eyed. But he soon meets his grandparents’ neighbour Sohrab, a boy the same age as him, and Sohrab welcomes Darius into his life so effortlessly it completely knocks Darius over. He finally feels what it’s like to have a true friend, to feel included, to have someone to confide in. You guys, this book. It’s the sweetest.
Date published: 2018-09-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Next Great Voice In YA Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book and chose to review it. This in no way impacts my opinion. "Suicide isn't the only way you can lose someone to depression." This was so good. I loved Darius and how he handled life. It was just so incredible to read about someone who deals with depression and anxiety. I just loved it so much. There were times when I felt a little meh about the writing. If you are a fan of THE SERPENT KING, this is the book for you. I felt like this book really spoke to me. I could 100% relate to Darius and his struggles. I am bipolar and know what it's like to have the intrusive thoughts. Or to have thoughts that you know aren't right but you can't stop them from happening or acting on them anyway. I absolutely loved the way Darius learned to be himself by connecting with his "past." I think it was such a brilliant examination of what it means to have family and history that you don't necessarily know and how to learn about that. It also looks at how to bring those two together. I cannot say enough good things about this one. If you are struggling with mental health conditions, this is the book for you. If you want to read the next great voice in YA, DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY by Adib Khorram is the book for you.
Date published: 2018-08-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bridges cultures with humor and heart WOW this book was a phenomenal one-day read for me. This book does a brilliant job of exploring issues of culture, heritage, family, discrimination, and clinical depression, with an excellent balance of heart and humor that will have you laughing one moment and dropping the floor out from under you the next. The alternation between the character's "American" name, Darius, and the original Persian version, Darioush, is an incredibly powerful choice on the author's part, it represents the core of the character's struggle of feeling caught between two worlds, and people's inconsistent expectations of what he should be. He was born in America, but his mother's entire family is in Iran. He loves Star Trek, but is also a tea aficionado. He doesn't speak Farsi, but his little sister does, though they both share an intense love for Persian desserts. His very white father shares his diagnosis of clinical depression, but has very specific ideas about how a "normal" boy should handle it and present himself. When he visits Iran and befriends Sohrab, I appreciated how that introduced another opportunity to discuss discrimination. Darius is struck by how in Portland, Persians of all kinds come together in harmony because there aren't many of them around, but in Iran, despite being a full Persian, Sohrab's family faces discrimination and brutality because of their Baha'i faith. This book is a bridge between cultures, because Darius himself is a bridge. His often-humorous internal musings address social cues, food, games, as well as language nuances (like how his mom never would confirm if Farsi borrowed a bunch of words from French). His humor is based largely in science fiction and fantasy culture (TONS of Star Trek and Lord of the Rings references) that will resonate with fans of those genres while introducing them to possibly new concepts that are firmly based in reality. The way this book presents depression has been hailed as accurate and powerful by readers who also have depression. Though I can't speak for that myself, I found it to be poignant - it's a daily part of his life, it can strike without warning, but Darius has come to terms with the fact that it doesn't define him. In fact, though he wishes people understood him better, Darius never demonstrates an inclination to change himself for people, which I thought was excellent. He doesn't fit squarely into one box, and is okay with that internally, he just wishes everyone else would be too. I highly recommend this book!
Date published: 2018-07-24

Read from the Book

My grandmother loomed large on the monitor, her head tiny and her torso enormous.I only ever saw my grandparents from an up-the-nose perspective.She was talking to Laleh in rapid-fire Farsi, something about school, I thought, because Laleh kept switching from Farsi to English for words like cafeteria and Heads-Down, Thumbs-Up.Mamou’s picture kept freezing and unfreezing, occasionally turning into chunky blocks as the bandwidth fluctuated.It was like a garbled transmission from a starship in distress. “Maman,” Mom said, “Darius and Stephen want to say hello.” Maman is another Farsi word that means both a person and a relationship—in this case, mother. But it could also mean grandmother, even though technically that would be mamanbozorg.I was pretty sure maman was borrowed from French, but Mom would neither confirm nor deny.Dad and I knelt on the floor to squeeze our faces into the camera shot, while Laleh sat on Mom’s lap in her rolling office chair.“Eh! Hi, maman! Hi, Stephen! How are you?”“Hi, Mamou,” Dad said.“Hi,” I said.“I miss you, maman. How is your school? How is work?”“Um.” I never knew how to talk to Mamou, even though I was happy to see her.It was like I had this well inside me, but every time I saw Mamou, it got blocked up. I didn’t know how to let my feelings out.“School is okay. Work is good. Um.”“How is Babou?” Dad asked.“You know, he is okay,” Mamou said. She glanced at Mom and said, “Jamsheed took him to the doctor today.”As she said it, my uncle Jamsheed appeared over her shoulder. His bald head looked even tinier. “Eh! Hi, Darioush! Hi, Laleh! Chetori toh?”“Khoobam, merci,” Laleh said, and before I knew it, she had launched into her third retelling of her latest game of Heads-Down, Thumbs-Up.Dad smiled and waved and stood up. My knees were getting sore, so I did the same, and edged toward the door.Mom nodded along with Laleh and laughed at all the right spots while I followed Dad back down to the living room.It wasn’t like I didn’t want to talk to Mamou.I always wanted to talk to her.But it was hard. It didn’t feel like she was half a world away, it felt like she was half a universe away—like she was coming to me from some alternate reality.It was like Laleh belonged to that reality, but I was just a guest.I suppose Dad was a guest too. At least we had that in common.Dad and I sat all the way through the ending credits—that was part of the tradition too—and then Dad went upstairs to check on Mom.Laleh had wandered back down during the last few minutes of the show, but she stood by the Haft-Seen, watching the goldfish swim in their bowl.Dad makes us turn our end table into a Haft-Seen on March 1 every year. And every year, Mom tells him that’s too early. And every year, Dad says it’s to get us in the Nowruz spirit, even though Nowruz—the Persian New Year—isn’t until the first day of spring.Most Haft-Seens have vinegar and sumac and sprouts and apples and pudding and dried olives and garlic on them—all things that start with the sound of S in Farsi. Some people add other things that don’t begin with S to theirs too: symbols of renewal and prosperity, like mirrors and bowls of coins. And some families—like ours—have goldfish too. Mom said it had something to do with the zodiac and Pisces, but then she admitted that if it weren’t for Laleh, who loved taking care of the goldfish, she wouldn’t include them at all.Sometimes I thought Dad liked Nowruz more than the rest of us combined.Maybe it let him feel a little bit Persian. Maybe it did.So our Haft-Seen was loaded with everything tradition allowed, plus a framed photo of Dad in the corner. Laleh insisted we had to add it, because Stephen begins with the sound of S.It was hard to argue with my sister’s logic. “Darius?”“Yeah?”“This goldfish only has one eyeball!”I knelt next to Laleh as she pointed at the fish in question. “Look!”It was true. The largest fish, a leviathan nearly the size of Laleh’s hand, only had its right eye. The left side of its head— face—(do fish have faces?)—was all smooth, unbroken orange scales.“You’re right,” I said. “I didn’t notice that.”“I’m going to name him Ahab.”Since Laleh was in charge of feeding the fish, she had also taken upon herself the solemn duty of naming them.“Captain Ahab had one leg, not one eye,” I pointed out. “But it’s a good literary reference.”Laleh looked up at me, her eyes big and round. I was kind of jealous of Laleh’s eyes. They were huge and blue, just like Dad’s. Everyone always said how beautiful Laleh’s eyes were.No one ever told me I had beautiful brown eyes, except Mom, which didn’t count because (a) I had inherited them from her, and (b) she was my mom, so she had to say that kind of thing. Just like she had to call me handsome when that wasn’t true at all.“Are you making fun of me?”“No,” I said. “I promise. Ahab is a good name. And I’m proud of you for knowing it. It’s from a very famous book.”“Moby the Whale!”“Right.”I could not bring myself to say Moby-Dick in front of my little sister.“What about the others?”“He’s Simon.” She pointed to the smallest fish. “And he’s Garfunkel. And that’s Bob.”I wondered how Laleh was certain they were male fish.I wondered how people identified male fish from female fish. I decided I didn’t want to know.“Those are all good names. I like them.” I leaned down to kiss Laleh on the head. She squirmed but didn’t try that hard to get away. Just like I had to pretend I didn’t like having tea parties with my little sister, Laleh had to pretend she didn’t like kisses from her big brother, but she wasn’t very good at pretending yet.I took my empty cup of genmaicha to the kitchen and washed and dried it by hand. Then I filled a regular glass with water from the fridge and went to the cabinet where we kept everyone’s medicine. I sorted through the orange capsules until I found my own.“Mind grabbing mine?” Dad asked from the door. “Sure.”Dad stepped into the kitchen and slid the door closed. It was this heavy wooden door, on a track so that it slid into a slot right behind the oven. I didn’t know anyone else who had a door like that.When I was little, and Dad had just introduced me to Star Trek, I liked to call it the Turbolift Door. I played with it all the time, and Dad played too, calling out deck numbers for the computer to take us to like we were really on board the Enterprise.Then I accidentally slid the door shut on my fingers, really hard, and ended up sobbing for ten minutes in pain and shock that the door had betrayed me.I had a very sharp memory of Dad yelling at me to stop crying so he could examine my hand, and how I wouldn’t let him hold it because I was afraid he was going to make it worse.Dad and I didn’t play with the door anymore after that.I pulled down Dad’s bottle and set it on the counter, then popped the lid off my own and shook out my pills.Dad and I both took medication for depression.Aside from Star Trek—and not speaking Farsi—depression was pretty much the only thing we had in common. We took different medications, but we did see the same doctor, which I thought was kind of weird. I guess I was paranoid Dr. Howell would talk about me to my dad, even though I knew he wasn’t supposed to do that kind of thing. And Dr. Howell was always honest with me, so I tried not to worry so much.I took my pills and gulped down the whole glass of water. Dad stood next to me, watching, like he was worried I was going to choke. He had this look on his face, the same disappointed look he had when I told him about how Fatty Bolger had replaced my bicycle’s seat with blue truck nuts.He was ashamed of me. He was ashamed of us.Übermensches aren’t supposed to need medication.Dad swallowed his pills dry; his prominent Teutonic Adam’s apple bobbed up and down as he did it. And then he turned to me and said, “So, you heard that Babou went to the doctor today?”He looked down. A Level Three Awkward Silence began to coalesce around us, like interstellar hydrogen pulled together by gravity to form a new nebula.“Yeah. Um.” I swallowed. “For his tumor?” I still felt weird saying the word out loud. Tumor.Babou had a brain tumor.Dad glanced at the turbolift door, which was still closed, and then back to me. “His latest tests didn’t look good.”“Oh.” I had never met Babou in person, only over a computer screen. And he never really talked to me. He spoke English well enough, and what few words I could extract from him were accented but articulate.He just didn’t have much to say to me.I guess I didn’t have much to say to him either. “He’s not going to get better, Darius. I’m sorry.” I twisted my glass between my hands.I was sorry too. But not as sorry as I should have been. And I felt kind of terrible for it.The thing is, my grandfather’s presence in my life had been purely photonic up to that point. I didn’t know how to be sad about him dying.Like I said, the well inside me was blocked. “What happens now?” “Your mom and I talked it over,” Dad said. “We’re going to Iran.”

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Darius the Great is Not OkayA Book Expo Young Adult Buzz Panel SelectionAn Indies Introduce SelectionAn Indie Next Top Ten Pick for Fall 2018“Layered with complexities of identity, body image and mental illness that are so rarely articulated in the voice of a teenage boy of color. Khorram writes tenderly and humorously about his protagonist’s journey of self-acceptance, making it hard not to want to reach through the pages, squeeze his hand and reassure Darius that he is, in fact, going to be O.K.”—The New York Times“Reminiscent of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (better known in movie form as Love, Simon) and Angie Thomas’ phenomenal The Hate U Give, the novel chronicles a politically aware teendom where microaggressions are as much an everyday obstacle as untamed acne and humdrum mall jobs… Darius the Great Is Not Okay will have you craving a freshly steeped tea, an episode of Star Trek, and a glass of faloodeh—all courtesy of one delightful package.” —Entertainment Weekly   “This is the hilarious and heartbreaking story of Darius: a clinically-depressed, half-Persian lonely American teenage Trekkie who heads to Iran for the first time to meet his mom’s family.”—Cosmopolitan“This is an incredible story of friendship, family, and identity that you absolutely won't regret reading.”—Buzzfeed“Is your heart still full from reading Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda? Well, do we have the perfect book for you. Adib Khorram's Darius the Great Is Not Okay is a tender look into the life of Darius Kellner, a nerdy half-Persian teenager who's having difficulty finding his place in the world.” —PopSugar “Darius the Great Is Not Okay brings Iran alive, with sounds and smells and imagery, and you'll tearfully be rooting for Darius as he struggles with this mental health, identity, and his place in the world.” —Bustle ★ “First-time author Khorram’s coming-of-age novel  brings to life the sight, sounds, smells, and tastes of [Iran] . . . as it shows how a boy who feels like an outcast at home finds himself and true friendship overseas.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review  ★ “Khorram's debut novel is filled with insight into the lives of teens, weaving together the reality of living with mental illness while also dealing with identity and immigration politics. This tear-jerker will leave readers wanting to follow the next chapter in Darius’s life.” —Kirkus, starred review★ “Darius is a well-crafted, awkward but endearing character, and his cross-cultural story will inspire reflection about identity and belonging. A strong choice for YA shelves. Give this to fans of Adam Silvera and John Corey Whaley.” —School Library Journal, starred review“A refreshing bildungsroman and an admirable debut novel that will leave readers wanting more.”—Booklist “Khorram’s debut novel is an affectionate portrait of Iran: the food and aromas, the rich traditions and eclectic culture. . . . Readers will understand that home can be more than the physical place you live, and that people who make you feel at home can come into your life unexpectedly.” —The Horn Book"Heartfelt, tender, and so utterly real. I'd live in this book forever if I could." —Becky Albertalli, award-winning author of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda“I love this story, and the way it combines the bitter of adolescence with the sweet of friendship and family. Brewed together they make a beautiful, memorable book.” —Laurie Halse Anderson, award-winning author of Speak“Darius the Great is not just okay—he’s wonderful. A story about learning who you are, who you want to be in the world, and how family will always be there, no matter how great the physical or emotional distance.”  —Sara Farizan, author of If You Could Be Mine"I've never read a book that so powerfully demonstrates how connecting with where you come from can illuminate who you are and help you figure out where you're going. From its deadpan Star Trek humor to its brilliant examination of mental health, Darius the Great is Not Okay is a supernova of heart and hope that's sure to become a classic." —Nic Stone, New York Times bestselling author of Dear Martin"A love letter to anyone who has felt uncomfortable in their own skin and wondered where exactly they belonged. A big-hearted and marvelous debut." —Jasmine Warga, author of My Heart and Other Black Holes“Darius the Great is Not Okay is a total knockout. This story of identity and friendship—and how one can inform and reveal the other—will stay with me for a long time. And challenge me too, as a person and artist, which all great books should do. For its exploration of male friendship and cultural expectations alone, Adib Khorram’s lovely debut should be required reading.” —John Corey Whaley, award-winning author of Highly Illogical Behavior"Prepare to fall hard for Darius. His voice will grab you instantly, with sharp humor and tender growing up moments, and won't let go until the very last page. This is openhearted storytelling at its best." —Arvin Ahmadi, author of Down and Across