Friday, September 14, 2018

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

4 Stars

There are no bells and whistles for this one. Some books don’t need them. Darius the Great Is Not Okay is the story of a young boy who takes a trip to Iran with his family when they discover his grandfather is terminally ill. It’s about finding a place in the world when you feel like you’re nothing but a social outcast. More importantly, it’s about clinical depression. And it is DONE. SO. WELL. You can tell the author struggles/has struggled personally. Someone who has not dealt with the lying liar who lies which is depression might find Darius to be a bit of a pill – overly sensitive and quick to take offense – the kind of boy certain members of society would refer to as a “Snowflake.” I’ll admit there were moments when, despite my best efforts, even I felt that way too and in my head I was screaming “PLEASE JUST TALK!!!” or “THEY DIDN’T MEAN TO HURT YOUR FEELINGS.” But . . . . .

Sometimes making it impossible to break out of the spiral.

My only “complaint” with this story was that Darius was presented as an older teen, complete with job, but he read more like a middle-grader. That’s the age group I’d recommend this book to. My other “complaint” (for lack of a better word) has to do with the shelving of this book as “LGBT.” I’m assuming it stems from the following:

“Did you ever think that you wouldn’t get picked on so much if you weren’t so …”

“So what, Dad?” But he didn’t answer. What could he possibly say.

If readers want to fill in that blank with “gay” it’s certainly their priority, but it could easily be filled in with “nerdy” or “mopey” or “awkward” or “unsocial” or on and on and on. I read plenty of coming of age/first love/what-have-you stories – this wasn’t one.

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