"Darius The Great Is Not Okay" by Adib Khorram highlights the ups and downs of living with Clinical Depression
by Rana Asfour
I’ve had ‘Darius the Great Is Not Okay’ by Adib Khorram on my radar since it was first published in 2018. Well, thanks to a buddy read with @teachingtheapocalypse I’m loving this tender Young Adult novel about Darius Keller, an American teenager who identifies as ‘a Fractional Persian’ from his mum’s side. The story centres around his first trip to Iran with his sister and parents to meet his grandparents for the first time. It’s published by Penguin Books and has been optioned for film.
Darius has clinical depression and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents is proving a problem, for one because he speaks better Klingon than he does Farsi. However, the best part of his visit is when he meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and the two become instant friends. Through this friendship specifically (both have father issues) and being in Iran generally (the family, the sights, the food, & taarof), Darius (aka Darioush) begins to feel that he might be much better than okay.
I was one tiny pulsar in a swirling, luminous galaxy of Iranians, held together by the gravity of thousands of years of culture and heritage.” ― Adib Khorram, "Darius the Great Is Not Okay"
A tender, heart-squeezing read. As a mum all I wanted to do was reach into the book to give Darius a hug. (Note: all mums will relate to Darius frustratingly starting all his sentences with "Um" 😉) - Seriously though, he’s hilarious, witty, kind, observant and loves Star Trek but "not more than his 8yr old sister." However, as it is a YA novel, I should mention trigger warnings include themes on depression as I mentioned as well as suicidal thoughts, fat shaming, racism and terminal illness.
In the afterword author Adib Khorram writes: "In telling Darius’s story, I wanted to show how depression can affect a life without ruling it - both as someone who lives with it, and as someone who loves people living with it."
A very special book that should be on everyone’s bookshelf!