By Mia Santangelo
In Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram, Darius, whose family is from Iran, has lived in America his whole life, but has never fit in anywhere. He is about to take his first ever trip to Iran to visit his family and is worried that he isn’t going to fit in there either. He has spent his life jumping between considering himself American and Persian. On top of that, he’s dealing with clinical depression, a dad who he can never impress, and a “chronically anaemic social life.” In Iran, he meets his ailing grandfather and loving grandmother, makes a new friend, Sohrab, and begins to feel like a true Persian.
I enjoyed this book for many reasons. First of all, it is very educational in less-discussed topics. I barely knew anything about Iranian and Persian culture beforehand, but I learned so much about Persian traditions, food, clothes, Farsi, and life in this community.
The topic of mental illness is well represented, and reading about someone who is biracial and always feels stuck in the middle is intriguing. It really put things into perspective because the reader gets to see life through another person’s eyes. I also enjoyed the fast-paced narrative paired with the abundance of emotion and information. I felt like it was written well without being overdone.
The book was also very character-driven. There is a lot of development with Darius and the relationship development between both his dad and his best friend Sohrab. The family dynamics were also really well-written and it was really heartwarming to see Darius grow closer to his family, especially his dad.
Overall, this book was a short, enjoyable read that had diverse topics packed into it. I feel like no matter who you are, you would be able to relate to this book in one way or another because we all feel a little bit like Darius every once in a while.