Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Suicide isn’t the only way you can lose someone to depression.

Übermensch to Darius, p. 286

A four hour read that’s a lot more uplifting than the above quote suggests. I loved this book from its front cover to its end.

Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian – half, his mom’s side – and his first-ever trip to Iran is about the change his life.

Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush – the original Persian version of his name – and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab.

Adib Khorram’s brilliant debut is for anyone who’s ever felt not good enough – then met a friend who makes them feel so much better than okay.

I wish you could see yourself the way I see you.

Sohrab to Darius, p. 287

Khorram does debut well. Darius the Great is Not Okay was a wonderful read that addressed more than mental health and mis-guided stereotypes of Iranians and Iranian-Americans. Darius’s story approaches the disconnection between parents and their children and the earliest examples of racial divides in American society: high school.

It’s amazing how Khorram so ably utilizes villainous characters – like school bullies and parents who just don’t understand – to move a story forward without enabling any feelings that these villains couldn’t possibly be real or human. Everyone in Darius’s life reads genuine. Like many of us, Darius knows who in his life must love him but he’s unconvinced by the way they show it. He also knows that there is something wrong with the way some of his peers treat him and that the way he feels isn’t the way he should feel.

Darius the Great is Not Okay teaches us that’s it’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to not know how to handle everything life throws at us. It’s not okay to not be ourselves. And it’s not okay to stop trying to learn how to love and be loved the way we deserve.

Darius’s story will speak to those who connected to Junot Díaz’s Oscar Wao or anyone who feels that depression has kept them back from fulfilling their potential.


Adib Khorram is the author of Darius the Great is Not Okay, which earned the William C. Morris Debut Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Literature, and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, as well as a multitude of other honors and accolades. His next book, Darius the Great Deserves Better, will be released August 25, 2020, and his debut picture book, Seven Special Somethings: A Nowruz Story will be released spring 2021. When he isn’t writing, you can find him fixing other people’s PowerPoints, learning to do a Lutz jump, practicing his handstands, or steeping a cup of oolong. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where people don’t usually talk about themselves in the third person. You can find him on Twitter (@adibkhorram), Instagram (@adibkhorram), or on the web at adibkhorram.com.


  • YALSA William C. Morris Award Winner
  • APALA Asian/Pacific American Literature Award Winner
  • Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor
  • Midwest Booksellers Choice Award Winner
  • Lambda Literary Award Finalist
  • ALAN Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Finalist

Photo and synopsis retrieved from Bookshop

Author bio retrieved from Adib Khorram Writes Books website

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.