Book About Culture, Friends and Family

Today I have a book about culture, friends, and family.  This book has recently received some love from award committees and I can see why.  It tackles some of the loneliness and self-doubt experienced by boys in a really caring way.  I was impressed by this debut novel and can’t wait to see what the author comes up with next.

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Title: Darius the Great Is Not Okbook about culture friends and family Darius the great is not ok

Author: Adib Khorram

Target: Grades 8 and up

Series: No

What this book is about:

Darius is a Star Trek nerd who happens to be half Persian. He has never fit in at school and he is successfully managing his depression through therapy and medication.  When his grandfather in Iran becomes ill, the whole family makes the long journey to see him before he passes.  By connecting with his Persian side, Darius starts to feel more like himself. When he makes a close friend in Iran, something he doesn’t have at home, he finally feels understood.  Can that get Darius to a place where he feels ok?

Why I love this book:

  • I don’t often get to read books with a Persian main character and see the customs and ways of life in Iran so this was eye-opening.  I do have a few Persian friends, and while I hardly consider myself an expert, the traits exhibited did match my friends to a T!  From the importance of tea and how it is brewed (yes my Persian friends have given me tea and teapot with directions attached!) to taarof, deferential politeness, this book will open your eyes to the customs in this country.
  • I loved Darius. The struggle to connect with his dad felt so real.  His feeling of isolation without a close friend to confide in is something I think many boys experience.  Managing his depression is something that many kids deal with. It is refreshing to see it so openly portrayed in the story without a lot of hoopla attached to it but the simple message that these kids can’t just buck up and be happy.
  • There were a few times when I thought the author was going to take the friendship between Darius and Sohrab to a different place, but they always remained nothing but friends.  In hindsight, I think the author was emphasizing how boys never think they can be physically close to one another with a hug or an arm around their shoulder and that this casual physical touch can be bonding, just as it is for women.

Who this book is for:

This book is more introspective than action-packed, so kids have to be willing to invest in that kind of story.  Lots of Star Trek and Lord of the Rings references, so if your kids like those, they will feel right at home in this story.  

Final thoughts:

Wonderful YA book for boys that gets to some of their insecurities and challenges in a great narrative. 

To purchase this book:

Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: Darius the Great Is Not Ok.  A portion of each purchase will go to support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.