A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The novel is filled with the foods, customs, and celebrations of Iran. This is Darius' first visit to his mother's country, and he takes readers along as he celebrates Nowruz (Persian New Year), snacks on roasted watermelon seeds, eats rosewater sorbet, ice cream with saffron and pistachios, and Chelo Kababs, and drinks many different teas. When his family visits the ancient ruins at Persepolis, he finally sees the palace of his namesake, Darius the Great, who ruled the Persian Empire from 552-486 BC.
The simple act of offering to be someone's friend can change a life.
Positive Role Models
Darius has clinical depression and talks about it in an honest and transparent way throughout the novel. He shares being diagnosed, the side effects of some medications, and the positive difference the right meds have made in his life.
Violence & Scariness
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Single uses of "a--hole" and "s--t."
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Products & Purchases
Mentions of Dr. Pepper, Sour Patch Kids, and Darius and Subway restaurant for scene setting.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Adib Khorram's utterly captivating cross-cultural coming-of-age novel Darius the Great Is Not Okay chronicles a few life-changing weeks in the life of Darius Grover Kellner, a half-Persian half-American sophomore at a Portland, Oregon, high school. Darius is fat, taking medication for clinical depression, verbally bullied, and friendless. And it's just not at school where Darius feels left out. His relationship with his father consists of watching a single Star Trek episode together each evening. But when the family makes a trip to Iran to visit his mother's dying father, Darius unexpectedly makes a friend. The story stays away from politics (one character has a father who's a political prisoner) and focuses instead on family, friends, and the rhythm of everyday life in Iran. This is a must-read for any teen who's ever felt left out or struggled to fit in. The novel has won numerous awards, including the 2019 Morrison Award, presented by the Young Adult Library Services Association to an outstanding first-time author writing for teens.
Is It Any Good?
This gentle, heartwarming cross-cultural coming-of-age story delivers a profound message of hope for any teen who's struggled with depression or felt they'd never fit in. There's no sex or violence or profanity-laced dialogue in Darius the Great Is Not Okay, simply an almost-impossible-to-put-down story told by a nerdy teen with a wicked sense of humor, who, like so many boys and girls in middle and high school, is picked on simply because he has different interests and looks different.
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