BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram [in Booklist]

Sixteen-year-old loner Darius Kellner is an easy target at his Portland, Oregon, high school. He’s clinically depressed, a diagnosis he shares with his “Teutonic Übermensch” father. His nurturing comes mostly from his Iranian immigrant mother, and he’s close to his 8-year-old sister. For all that, he’s a self-described “fractional Persian.”

When his grandfather becomes ill, the Kellners trek to Yazd, Iran, for an overdue family reunion. The visit proves positively life changing, as Darius experiences his first-ever true friendship.

Michael Levi Harris, a polyglot who makes use of his Persian proficiency, is a sensitive reader, smoothly distinguishing Darius’ native English with the accented hesitancy of his extended family, juxtaposing Darius’ halting Farsi with his relatives’ fluid exchanges. Despite his linguistic talents, Harris’ repeated mispronunciation of genmaicha​ is notably clumsy, as Darius works part-time in a teashop. Occasional stumbles aside, Harris’ finely tuned performance makes Adib Khorram’s debut accessible to even the most reluctant readers.

Review: “Media,” Booklist, February 1, 2019

Readers: Young Adult

Published: 2018


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