A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Darius is passionate about all things related to tea. Readers learn what goes on in a tea tasting and about different varieties of tea (Gyokuro, a green tea from Japan that's famous for being shaded three weeks before plucking, teas with exotic names like Dragonwell, and teas that taste buttery or sweet or even like eggplant).
Storyline emphasizes building self-esteem, making good choices in a relationship, working with teammates, sticking together as a family through tough times.
Positive Role Models
Darius takes the self-confidence he built while in Iran and continues to build on it throughout the story -- at his job, on the soccer field, with a new group of friends. When the Kellner family face financial hard times, they work together, supporting and encouraging one another. Darius' soccer coach offers a lesson in how to counter "toxic masculinity" on a sports team. Before games and practices, she has them circle up, hold hands, go around the circle saying something kind or helpful a teammate has done for them.
Violence & Scariness
A girl is verbally bullied by classmates who don't think of her as White. She hits a boy who makes fun of her mother's accent.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A character feels (and resists) pressure from his more experienced boyfriend to go further sexually than he's comfortable doing. A lot of passionate kissing, some wandering of hands below the waist. A character is embarrassed by having erections after kissing his boyfriend and thinking of another cute boy. Talk of "hooking up" and "jerking off," and a teen admits to watching porn. An adult character has transitioned from male to female. A father makes his son practice putting a condom on a cucumber.
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Some profanity ("bulls--t," "a--hole," "crap," "d--k"). A character uses some unusual homophobic slurs: "Dairy Queen."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Adib Khorram's Darius the Great Deserves Better is the sequel to the multi-award-winning Darius the Great Is Not Okay. Sixteen-year-old Darius Kellner and his family have returned from a visit to his mother's family in Iran, and his junior year is off to a better start than the fat, bullied Darius of the first novel ever thought possible. He's not only made the varsity soccer team, but also become good friends with his teammates and begun an internship at his favorite tea shop, and he has his first-ever boyfriend. But he and his father are still battling bouts of depression, and the family's facing some tough financial times. Characters occasionally use strong language ("bulls--t," "a--hole," "crap," "d--k"), and unlike Darius the Great Is Not Okay, this novel includes sexual content. A major storyline deals with the pressure Darius feels from his boyfriend to go further sexually than he's comfortable with. There's a lot of passionate kissing, some wandering of hands below the waist, and characters talk about erections, masturbating, "hooking up," and "jerking off." This is a warm, engaging, and often funny sequel sure to please readers who already know Darius and certain to make fans of teens meeting him for the first time.
Is It Any Good?
This is a story for any teen who's ever felt "different," a story about what can happen when you find the confidence to step out and grab hold of your dreams. While still filled with warmth and humor, Darius the Great Deserves Better has a sharper edge than Darius the Great Is Not Okay, with more mature storylines about teen sex, homophobia, "toxic masculinity" in sports, and a transgender family member.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.