Publisher : Dial Books | Penguin Random House
Genre : Young Adult |Contemporary
Page Count: 320
Synopsis : 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 understand 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. (From Goodreads)
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange of an honest review*
TW: Bullying, fatshaming, depression, terminal illness, death.
Darius the Great is Not Okay, and I don’t think I am either. THIS BOOK. It took me a while to read because of a slump but I think that at the end, it cured it. And I’ve had this page opened for at least a two weeks trying to find the words to write this review but it’s been hard and even as I’m typing this now (Because i need this review up asap and i procrastinated enough for a lifetime oops) I’m not sure where my thoughts are going to take me or how they’ll translate into coherent sentences. But the gist of it is, I loved this book. So much.
The writing is quite simple and yet very beautiful and emotionally charged. Darius, the MC, is the type that feels a lot, he feels everything and isn’t ashamed of his feelings, and that shows in his voice. I actually loved reading from his POV, how genuine, real and unfiltered his perspective is, which made the book all the better to read, even when he’s struggling, even when life becomes too much.
Darius the Great is Not Okay is very much a character driven story, there’s no real linear plot to it but there is a lot of character growth, of self-discovery, family love, and all kinds of complicated relationships. I honestly loved reading from Darius‘ perspective so much, he has such an honest genuine voice that I know a lot of teens can relate to, especially depressed teens, heck, even I related to him a lot. He feels so much, all the time, and more often than not is overwhelmed by all his emotions and I really appreciated how okay he is with not being okay. Don’t get me wrong, he struggles. A lot. But most of the time, he rolls with it, he doesn’t try to repress his feelings or pretend he’s Something he isn’t and I think that’s brave and something that teens with depression need to see. I felt like the whole message of this book can be summed up in one sentence: It’s okay not to be okay. And that’s something I needed when I read the book.
The relationships in this book are amazing, every one of them, even the not so great ones. At the start of the book, Darius has never met his grandparents because they live back in Iran and he’s never been so we actually get to witness him forming a bond and breaking down walls that were between them for the first time and that was so heartwarming, especially when it comes to his Mamou (grandma) whom I ABSOLUTELY adored, she’s so soft and affectionate and makes sure to vocally let him know that he’s loved and cared for. Then comes his relationship with his parents, his mom is a little bit like his Mamou, but then we have his dad with which things are a little more rocky. Well. A lot more rocky. Darius’ dad also has depression and while they were very close when he was a child, there’s a rift between them now that only seems to get bigger. His dad basically blames him for being bullied as well as fatshames him over and over. It’s rought but I love how it was all so deep and complex and well handled.
Then my favourite. The softest, cutest, best male friendship I’ve ever read. When he goes back to Iran, Darius meets his grandparents’ neighbour, Sohrab, a boy his age with whom he forms an immediate bond. And I adored that there was no trace of toxic masculinity anywhere, both were so open and honest witth each other, never afraid of showing their emotions in front of each other, they basically becomes best friends in the span of a few weeks. Which reminds me, I’ve seen in quite a few places that Darius is gay, which, unless the author said it and I missed it, is stated nowhere in the book. I conceed that he is heavily queer coded but he reads more on the aroace spectrum than anything else. But again, no specific words are used in the book so no *official* representation, it’s just coding, and someone else might read him differently.
I would highly highly recommend Darius the great is not okay for anyone looking for fat and depression representation, and obviously Iranian too. But also. Really anyone who loves a good book exploring human relationships in a genuine way.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read Darius the Great is Not Okay? If so, what did you think?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.