EVERYTHING SAD IS UNTRUE is a patchwork of stories (some true), myths, and fables, told by 12-year-old Khosrou "Daniel" Nayeri. Born into a family so wealthy his grandfather's grandfather was called a king, young Khosrou lived a privileged life in Iran. But when his mother becomes a Christian (something which meant a death sentence in Iran), she leaves her husband behind and flees to Dubai with Khosrou and his older sister. From Dubai, the family is sent to a refugee camp in Italy until finally gaining sponsors to come to the United States. They settle in Oklahoma, and Khosrou becomes Daniel to his classmates. His mother marries a man named Ray (Rahim), who beats her badly enough to send her to the hospital. At school and on the bus home, Daniel is constantly bullied and punched and often doesn't have enough money to pay for lunch in the cafeteria. Trying to fit in, he joins clubs -- the academic team, Latin team, the cinema club -- and finally makes one friend. Then, he has a chance to stand at the front of Mrs. Miller's class and, like a middle school Scheherazade, try to win over his classmates with stories both fanciful and true. For example, the tragic legend of Tamar, the beautiful governor's daughter who falls in love with Abbas the baker, and the story of a king named Khosrou, who was so rich he had a carpet with flowers made of rubies and emeralds. Therea are also stories of how his great-grandmother, the daughter of a powerful khan, grew up in a house surrounded by saffron fields and was cheated out of her inheritance by her uncles, and how his grandmother fell in love with a librarian, tried to assassinate her husband, and was exiled to England.