Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Publisher: Penguin Books
Copyright Date: 2018
Reading Age: 12-17
Reading Level: Grades 7-9
Awards: William C. Morris Debut Award
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Darius is what is referred to as a Fractional Persian. He is half from his mother's side. He is a quiet, geeky teen with mental health issues, and he is worried that he will be as much of an outsider in Iran as he is at home. He doesn't really speak Farsi well, and his grandparents don't understand his need for medication for his clinical depression. Then he meets Sohrab. They start spending all their time together, and suddenly, Darius begins to feel like he just might belong.
Darius is taking a trip to Iran to visit family, but he knows Klingon better than Farsi. It can be tough being a geeky teen in a foreign country. It is about a teen boy whose mother's family is from Iran and involves a visit to a country often at odds with the United States. Darius says he is what is referred to as a Fractional Persian, a person who is half this and half that. he suffers from clinical depression and takes medication in order to treat it. When he arrives in Iran, Darius discovers that a relocation to a different environment is not a guarantee that the way he is treated will change. His grandparents don't understand why he would need medication for a malady they cannot see with their eyes. He is a quiet, geeky teen with mental health issues, and he is worried that he will be as much of an outsider in Iran as he is at home. When Darius meets Sohrab, not only does he meet a boy that he might be able to love, he is also introduced to a part of himself that he has never really acknowledged. They eat traditional food, hang out on rooftops and gaze out over the buildings of an Iranian town. For the first time in his life, Darius begins to feel like he might be able to belong. That feeling of being an outsider is a universal feeling for teens, and the heart and empathy of this story will be reflected by those who read it as they follow along with Darius discovering who he is as he realizes he is not a fractional entity but a whole, complicated person.
Darius is taking a trip to Iran to visit family, but he knows Klingon better than Farsi. It can be tough being a geeky teen in a foreign country.
About the Author
Adib Khorram is an author, a graphic designer, and a tea enthusiast. He was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. A theater kid in high school, he went on to study design and technical theater at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, with an emphasis in lighting design. He later attended one year of film school in Vancouver, BC.
He returned to Kansas City after school, and worked in the event production industry until 2020. His first novel, the DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY, was published in August 2018 by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, and won YALSA’s William C. Morris Award for Best Debut Author Writing for Teens, the Asian/Pacific American Literature Association’s Young Adult Award, and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor, among other accolades. A companion novel, DARIUS THE GREAT DESERVES BETTER, was published in August 2020 to critical acclaim; it became an instant Indie Bestseller and received a Stonewall Honor. His picture book debut, SEVEN SPECIAL SOMETHINGS: A NOWRUZ STORY (illustrated by Zainab Faidhi) was published in spring 2021.
When he's not writing, he enjoys yoga, figure skating, electric guitar, food, wine, video games, board games, and Kansas City barbecue. (About the author found here. Author photo found here.)
Darius knows Klingon better than Farsi. Discuss learning a foreign language. Do you think learning a fictional language would be easier?
Darius experiences a lot of microaggressions. Discuss how those experiences can wear someone down.
Challenge issues: LGBTQIA+
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This book includes heart. It is about a teen boy whose mother's family is from Iran. It includes a visit to a country often at odds with the United States as well as looking at mental health and a teen who does not feel like he is quite enough.