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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

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.…

Overall Book Review:

Darius the Great is Not Okay is a story about friendship, defining yourself, and finding your place in the world. Main character, Darius (a.k.a. Darioush) is a typical teenager who deals with bullies, struggles to get along with his father, and finds it challenging to make friends. Beyond that, Darius suffers from depression and many other issues that come with that. Darius has a mother who is from Iran but his father is from the United States and it is difficult for him to fit in. He’s never met his mother’s family who still live in Iran but that is about to change as his family goes for a visit. Being around his mother’s family, who he might physically resemble more than those in the United States, brings up new issues as he tries to find a way to fit in with them.

Author, Adib Khorram, paints a very vivid picture of the physical landscapes in Iran as well as the traditions and culture. You’ll love the characters in Iran, from the perfect grandma to the grandpa who isn’t great at showing his affection and is dramatically changing from health issues. Additionally, the aunts, uncles, and even the bullies are excellently portrayed. Khorram also creates the characters who are closest to Darius to fit him perfectly and even though they may struggle in their relationships, the interactions feel authentic. Khorram includes some deep themes that not only contribute to the complexity of the plot but also make the story very relatable to many.  You’ll also be entertained by the many references to Star Trek and Lord of the Rings throughout the story. Whether you’re a teenager dealing with similar things as Darius or a parent of a child who is struggling with related issues, the story will interest you.

Review of an Advance Reading Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Dial Books for Young Readers

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  4 religious exclamations; 4 mild obscenities; 4 scatological words; 1 anatomical term.

Violence/Gore: Several (11) brief incidents including character joking about character with sauce on face looking like it is blood; joke that cooking would end in bloodshed; character wondering if anyone would be sad if he died; character having terminal cancer; story about a man accidentally killing son; second-hand report of character slapping boy across the face; reference to terrorists; reference to torture in television show; reference to dead people; second-hand report of character getting stabbed to death; character telling another that he nearly committed suicide.

Sex/Nudity:  Several (12) brief incidents including characters see each other naked while showering in a locker room; references to sleeping naked; reference to wife getting pregnant; innuendo; homosexual innuendo; characters putting fake testicles on another’s bike as a prank; reference to grandmothers being lesbians; two masturbation references.

Mature Subject Matter:

Bullying; terminal cancer; depression; suicide.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Reference to school policy of no drugs; reference to people drinking alcohol on a plane; reference to using alcohol to christen vehicle.

Overall Book Rating

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About the Reviewer

I love being able to help busy parents who just don’t have the time to pre-screen all their children’s books and know how much I appreciate it as my sons have gotten older. I feel very blessed that my amazing husband makes it possible for me to be a stay-at-home mother to four amazing boys. When not reading or enjoying time with my family, I like baking, especially trying new recipes, and the occasional sewing project.