YA Coming of Age

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kmanos Avatar


Darius the Great is Not Okay follows Darius, an Iranian-American teen who deals with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and his first trip to Iran to visit his ailing grandfather in a place where he knows he should belong but doesn't feel like he does. When he meets his next door neighbor, Sohrab, he finally feels like he has someone on his side. The book is a story about never feeling like you are enough, no matter where you are or who you're with, but with the support of friends and family you can finally start to discover your place in life. I listened to this on audio, which helped with following along with proper pronunciation of words in a language I don't personally know. As someone who comes from Hispanic lineage, but did not grow up learning Spanish or around that culture, I could relate to Darius when he feels ostracized from his own family. This is such a character driven story about family, friendship, loss, and figuring out your place in the world. I also loved the subtle queer tones, and in the sequel we learn that Darius does identity as gay and gets a boyfriend, but in this first book I'm not even sure Darius is fully aware of it himself, which is just another aspect of his identity that he may grapple with mentally. I hope teens can pick this book and see themselves in Darius in similar (and different) ways, and enjoy his character journey as much as I did.