Darius the Great Is Not Okay

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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.

Winner of the William C. Morris Debut Award

“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.--from the publisher

320 pages            978-0525552963        Ages 12 and up

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Middle school can be a challenge for anybody.  It's an even bigger challenge when you have depression and you are half Persian in an American school.  Darius knows all the names.  He's a constant target for bullies at this school.  He really has a tough time fitting in with the guys.

At home Darius has a Father Issues.  His father suffers from depression, too.  It was a few years ago, D's dad stopped telling him stories at night when he put D to bed.  Now the only time they share is the 47 minutes of their evening episode of Star Trek.  It makes Darius feel he isn't good enough.  His father seems to love Laleh, D's younger sister, but Darius doesn't feel he is skinny enough, smart enough or anything-else enough for his father.

The family is going to take a trip back to Iran where his grandparents live.  Seems Darius' mother is pretty sure her father, Babou, is getting to the end of his life.  He has a tumor.  So they pack up, take the flight over and drive to Yazd, the town where Darius' grandparents live.

This is a story about depression.  It's a story about the Persian culture, especially the food, and how the relatives live in Yazd.  This is also a story about a boy who makes a best friend - a friend who understands him and knows how he feels even when he doesn't say his truth.

This is also a story about giving our boys the freedom to feel their full range of emotions.  Through the eyes of Darius, we experience boys who cry - or excrete excessive hormones - his words.  Through the eyes of Darius we feel the nudge of the shoulder of a friend against our shoulder.  We get to feel the good feeling of finding out we can play soccer pretty well and we didn't even know we had it in us.

This is a story about understanding what's going on beneath the skin deep side of someone.  Everyone has a story.  Everyone has stuff going on.  A tale of finding yourself and opening yourself up to your legit feelings so you can live fully and fill the place in the world that was empty until you got here.

Recommended by:  Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com

 

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