Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Darius the Great Is Not Okay!
If you haven’t heard me screaming about this book already, well, here’s another chance to be exposed to the sheer wonderfulness that is this book.
Seriously. I’m in love.
Darius the Great Is Not Okay is both heartbreaking and heartwarming in its coming of age story. Darius is about to take his first-ever trip to see his family in 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, Darius gets to know the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything. Sohrab makes Darius feel understood. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab who calls him Darioush–the original Persian version of his name.
Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab. And when it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.
5 Random Things Darius Would Approve Of
If you didn’t know already, Darius has some passions that help shape Darius into, well, Darius! And so I compiled a list of five cool items sold/featured on the Internet that I think Darius would be super into, so you can get to know Darius a little better before the book comes out tomorrow!
(I’m not affiliated with any of these if you were wondering. It’s just that some of these are so cute *cough*THE ENAMEL PIN*cough* that I just had to include links in case you wanted to check them out!!!)
1. Brother & Sister Morse Code Bracelet
Darius and his little sister Laleh are like, #siblinggoals.
Even though they have their differences, Darius loves his little sister and isn’t afraid to admit it. Which is why I could totally see Laleh roping Darius into wearing one of these brother/sister bracelets that spell out ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ in Morse Code with the beads!
I think Darius would make a fuss about it when presented with it, but he’d totally love it on the inside and rarely take it off. Because that’s just the type of awesome big brother he is. It’s stylish and understated, so I don’t think he’d end up opposing to it in the long run.
Find it on Etsy here!
2. Lifetime Tea Lovers Club Member Enamel Pin
Seriously, the tea in this book is intense.
And I don’t mean the drama tea, I mean the tea tea. The leaves soaked in liquid that coffee-haters love drinking.
Because Darius is such a huge tea nerd. There are like, multiple passages in the book where he talks about tea and preparing tea and all sorts of tea-related topics, and you know Darius will not take anything less than great tea.
Which is why I feel like Darius would totally own this pin, even if he didn’t wear it everywhere. Because Darius would 100% be a part of the Lifetime Tea Lovers Club with his knowledge and affinity for the brewed drink.
Find it on Etsy here!
3. Hobbit House Mug
The tea enamel pin, pulls us into a nice segue into something that has two of Darius’ passions intersecting: tea & Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit.
Not only is this mug great for drinking tea in, but it’s also designed to look like a Hobbit House (burrow? hillside abode?) which I think Darius would totally approve of. Like, I could see this as a gift from Stephen (Darius’ dad) as a way of branching the gap between the two of them, something that is a big part of this novel & its coming of age.
Darius and his dad might not have the best relationship right now, but their shared love of geeky things (like weekly Star Trek viewings) is one of the ways they breach that gap.
Find it on Etsy here!
4. Iranian Flag Sunglasses
This is one of those junky plastic things that cost two cents to make and end up as cheap prizes at places like school fairs or whatever.
But I feel like Darius would have a really really hard time throwing these out. Especially after his vacation to Iran. I think it would end up taking a symbolic place in Darius’ subconscious, and even though it’s just a cheap piece of plastic you probably can’t see very well through, I like to think Darius would feel some connection to this and throw it away after the other pair of cheap sunglasses he won in this hypothetical situation.
Darius’ heritage is important to him, and he feels like he’s missing out as he can’t speak Farsi like Laleh and his mom. So I feel like these glasses would be a way of having a connection, even if they are just two cent plastic.
Find it here!
5. Lord of the Rings Hockey Jersey
This is ultimately the most epic item on the list, and one of the most incorrect as well.
Because even though Darius WOULD TOTALLY LOVE THIS LORD OF THE RINGS THEMED JERSEY…it’s also for hockey, not football. Boo.
Regardless of this jersey’s sport affiliations (who can even tell the difference anyways? soccer? football? hockey? all the same, pshaw!) I think Darius would be totally in love with this jersey.
I mean, Sohrab buys Darius an Iranian soccer jersey, so this would totally be a cool gift for Darius in the future *wink wink* IT’S JUST SO EPIC, OKAY?
Read the article here!
Was this listicle just me writing ficlet-adjacent pieces about Darius the Great Is Not Okay? Maybe.
But I hope you did end up learning more about Darius through my hypothetical situations about these objects and Darius’ potential approval of them! Read on for more of my thoughts about this book!
This book did not let me down at all.
I’ve been so excited for Darius the Great Is Not Okay for longer than I can remember, and this turned out to be just as stellar as I thought it would be!
I mean, one of the greatest things about this book is that Khorram knows his writing style & what Darius’ voice sounds like, and he isn’t afraid to use it. Darius is such a unique protagonist and you can tell when he speaks just by his dialogue and how he says things.
Darius is nerdy and awkward and maybe doesn’t know who he is right now, but he’ll definitely find out throughout the course of the book. Understanding who you are is hard and Darius will find parts of himself while he’s in Iran with his family.
Plus, Khorram isn’t afraid to make Darius’ narration unique as some of the parts within the chapter are shorter rather than one giant scene making up a chapter. There are little pieces, maybe only three or four paragraphs, that really help the reader get into Darius’ headspace and also understand some of the Persian culture and Darius’ history and background.
I felt like Darius was such a relatable character. I usually have a harder time connecting with male narrators, but Darius was so relatable. I liked reading about his relationship with his dad and I was actually satisfied with where their relationship was left off, because his father pressures Darius a lot.
You can see where both Darius and his father are wrong and right, and neither is completely wrong or completely right. It was an interesting experience to read how their dynamic shifted throughout the novel. I loved the rest of the family dynamics, especially the ones between Darius and his little sister (so cute!!!).
What made this book really easy to relate for me, though, was how Darius felt like he was neither American or Iranian. I struggle with this myself because I’m Asian-American and I know what it feels like to go to another country where half your family lives and not understand the social cues or a word of what they’re saying.
The relationship Darius had with his father of being the only “outsiders” in Iran was something I related to very strongly, and I feel like the entire idea of being an outsider to your own culture, both in America and Asia, is something Khorram portrayed really well.
It’s honestly what made this book so wonderful for me. I could really relate to that feeling that Khorram captured, and I think anyone who has more than one culture (especially if you’re not fluent in one cultures’ language) will be able to relate to Darius’ experiences.
The only thing that I would have changed is just some of the plot. I wish it was more tangible and physical, just a couple of things to up the stakes, rather than the really large character-based nature of this book. I loved reading Darius’ character, but I wish it was balanced out a little more with a physical plot.
The nuanced nature of Darius’ attraction to boys was something I really enjoyed. It’s really subtle how Khorram kind of slips this in, and it’s never explicit and nothing ever happens, but you get this tiny twinge. You know, but you also don’t know.
I think Darius and Sohrab had a wonderful friendship and parts of this book were definitely heartbreaking, but also rejuvenating. Like a good cry. Darius, to ‘come of age’ in a sense, has to go through the emotional wringer to get to that place where he’s able to be the best Darius he can be.
Overall, I really really loved reading this book and found it so relatable. It’s equally humorous, heartbreaking, and heartwarming, and I definitely recommend it to all lovers of contemporary fiction. If you’re not opposed to a very character-based plot, I definitely recommend you check this out! Also if you’re one who’s familiar with being a part of two cultures and not fitting into either.
Thank you so much to Penguin Teen, Penguin Teen @ Book Con, and Penguin Teen + Bookish First for providing me with advance readers’ copies in exchange for an honest review!
More About the Book
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.
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.
More About the Author
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. This is his first novel.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the tour stops below!
August 20 – Novel Novice – Creative Instagram Picture
August 21 – AEB Book Reviews – Review
August 22 – VelarisReads – Book Aesthetics
August 23 – Happy Book Lovers – Creative Instagram Picture
August 24 – Forever and Everly – Review
August 27 – Vicky Who Reads – Listicle: Random Things Darius Would Approve Of
August 28 – Snarky yet Satisfying – Creative Instagram Picture
August 29 – The Hermit Librarian – Author Guest Post: “Tea, properly made, is a core interest to Darius, despite his manager at Tea Haven. Are there greater themes or parallels between his interest in properly brewed teas and his story/journey that readers should take note of?”
August 30 – Keep Holding on to Books – Book Aesthetic
August 31 – Malanie Loves Fiction – Review
September 3 – Afire Pages – Review + Author Guest Post: Recommendations of Persian food and places-to-see for tourists.
September 4 – Dotters Daughters Picks – Moodboard
September 5 – The Fandom – Review + Different Persian dishes in the book
September 6 – The Royal Polar Bear Reads – Author Interview
September 7 – Reading (AS)(I)AN (AM) ERICAN – Review