BLOG TOUR: Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram + Author Guest Post

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ISBN: 9780525553809

Title: Darius the Great Is Not Okay

Series: —-

Author: Adib Khorram

Publisher: Dial Books

Publishing Date: August 28th 2018

Format: Paperback

Number of Pages: 320

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

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Darius doesn’t think he’ll ever be enough, in America or in Iran. Hilarious and heartbreaking, this unforgettable debut introduces a brilliant new voice in contemporary YA.
Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s about to take his first-ever trip to Iran, and it’s pretty overwhelming–especially when he’s also dealing with clinical depression, a disapproving dad, and a chronically anemic social life. In Iran, he gets to know his ailing but still formidable grandfather, his loving grandmother, and the rest of his mom’s family for the first time. And he meets Sohrab, the boy next door who changes everything.

Sohrab makes sure people speak English so Darius can understand what’s going on. He gets Darius an Iranian National Football Team jersey that makes him feel like a True Persian for the first time. And he understand that sometimes, best friends don’t have to talk. Darius has never had a true friend before, but now he’s spending his days with Sohrab playing soccer, eating rosewater ice cream, and sitting together for hours in their special place, a rooftop overlooking the Yazdi 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. When it’s time to go home to America, he’ll have to find a way to be Darioush on his own.

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**Thank you Penguin Random House for providing me a finish copy and inviting me to be a part of this blog tour! This, by any means, did not affect nor influence my review.**

Darius the Great is Not Okay is more than “just-an-okay” book . Tell you what, I thought I wouldn’t enjoy this book. I prefer character-driven stories less than plot-driven stories because I tend to get bored easily – especially when all I get was a cycle of how the main character’s day begun and ended and nothing interesting seems to happen. Sure enough, there were times I got bored and felt like this is too plain on the beginning. But surprise! Here I am, giving this a 4 stars rating.

Meet Darius. He loves tea, he’s half Persian half American, he’s a bullying victim, he’s fat, was diagnosed with clinical depression – which according to his doctor, the reason for his severe anxiety, he’s gay and he’s a huge Star Trek fan. At first, I wasn’t quite sure of what to think of him. I couldn’t relate or click (Idk the right term???) with his humor and I thought that he sounded too childish for his age. But as the time goes by I unconsciously changed my mind. I liked Darius, he’s humorous, I did not connect with him in a deep way but he is still relatable (anxiety and depression, hello?). And he’s really just a typical teenager which made it easy to think of him as a friend.

The characters are three-dimensional. All perfect to make everything seem real. I liked them from Darius’ extended Persian family, to Sohrab’s store owner uncle – especially Sohrab. You know that feeling when you met a person for the very first time and you just know that he’s a good guy? And you’re like “Go get him, friend!”? He is so kind and welcoming, it was impossible from the start not to want to know him better. He’s just a good guy.

The struggle of having to deal with two different cultures because you are biracial, navigating with that other part of your identity and dealing with conflicts arising because you must be both at the same time? The struggle of being asked “what are you depressed for?” by the people who do not understand it once they learned that you are depressed? Darius’ insecurities? Darius’ envy towards his sister, his father issues, the way he felt awkward with his Persian relatives? I loved how they were all addressed from the start towards the end.

I may have shed only few tears, but I was really touched for the most part. This unexpectedly made me feel emotional. This is full of heart-warming encounters and relationships that will make you just want to hug your loved ones especially your family at the end. I also loved the family dynamics. It goes through problems and has its own cracks. Their family felt so realistic and normal which made it easy for me to feel like a part of it. This also made me miss my grandparents and appreciate more my grandmother who is still here. I also loved the friendship built between Sohrab and Darius. It all just happened so naturally. It’s lovely.

Aside from the various representations, approximately 85% of the book was set in Iran and most of this was spent with Darius exploring its culture. I really appreciate all the things Darius – and I – learned about Iran and the Persian culture. It felt like I, myself, lived in Iran for a couple of weeks, visited those landmarks in Yazd and drank and ate all those mouth-watering foods and drinks! And the fact that it is an #ownvoices book made me appreciate this even more because this made me completely feel and see where this book is coming from – from the deepest parts of Adib Khorram’s heart. Just beautifully diverse.

I had mixed feelings towards the end. It was still sweet and satisfying. However, I hate that part with Chip on it (but I like Chip, there’s difference, okay?), because I feel like it was too late and that it should have happened earlier in the book. It somehow ruined the ending for me because Chip’s role suddenly felt out of place. I felt like the author just threw the opportunity away from Chip’s character to be a more significant part of this book on the beginning and then suddenly used him in the end for what? for the sake of cliffhanger?

Overall, Darius the Great is Not Okay surprised me a lot. Adib has simple yet engaging and entertaining writing. This is a beautifully diverse book that tells an interesting story and introduces us to a fresh new voice in YA. I wish there would be a book 2!

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4-flowers

Author Guest Post

Top 5 To-Go Places In Iran

I’ve always wanted to go to Iran, but I never have, for a number of reasons political, religious, cultural, and personal. There’s a particular ache I feel when I think about that: how I might never get to see where my dad was born and raised.

Writing Darius the Great Is Not Okay ended up being a way to soothe that ache. One of my favorite parts of the writing process was researching Iran: going through old family stories and albums, reading books and articles about how it’s changed since my family left, learning what tourists think of Iran and what members of the diaspora miss the most.

Inevitably, more came up than I could ever fit into a book. So, here are the top five places in Iran I wish I could have sent Darius to (and that I hope to see myself some day), in no particular order:

Skyline of Chak Chak

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Chak Chak: This village in Yazd Province (Yazd, where Darius takes place, is the capital city of Yazd Province) features a famous fire temple and, most notably, a natural spring that slowly and constantly drips onto the rocks below. According to my cousin, this is where the village gets its name: chak chak is the Farsi onomatopoeia for the sound of dripping water.

Azadi Tower - Tehran City.jpg

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Azadi Tower: The Azadi Tower is one of the most significant landmarks of Tehran, Iran’s capital. It’s a stunning piece of architecture that looks almost otherworldly.

Mausoleo de Shah Cheragh, Shiraz, Irán, 2016-09-24, DD 32.jpg

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Shah Cheragh: Both a mausoleum and a mosque, this monument in Shiraz is known most famously for its stunning mirror-lined walls and domes.

www.irangazette.com/en.Historical Sites Bazar1

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Bazaar: Literally any bazaar. I’d love to lose myself in the sights and sounds and smells of a proper Iranian bazaar. And maybe eat my way through it.

Khorramshahr: As far as I can tell the city isn’t named after my family, and my family’s not named after it, but that doesn’t change the fact that a number of my family members used to visit this seaside city in the summer. Many of my aunts and uncles and cousins tell stories of visiting the beaches in Khorramshahr when they were younger.

And there we have it. Iran is a beautiful country full of more wonders than any book can contain. And though I don’t expect I’ll ever get to visit, I still have my fingers crossed. Just in case.

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adib khorram

Adib Khorram is an author, a graphic designer, and a tea enthusiast. If he’s not writing (or at his day job), you can probably find him trying to get his 100 yard Freestyle under a minute, or learning to do a Lutz Jump. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where people don’t usually talk about themselves in the third person.

Find him on:

Website | Twitter | Instagram

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Amazon | IndieBound

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WEEK ONE

WEEK TWO

  • August 27 – Vicky Who Reads – Listicle: Random Things Darius Would Approve Of
  • August 28 – Snarky yet Satisfying – Creative Instagram Picture
  • August 29 – The Hermit Librarian – Author Guest Post: “Tea, properly made, is a core interest to Darius, despite his manager at Tea Haven. Are there greater themes or parallels between his interest in properly brewed teas and his story/journey that readers should take note of?”
  • August 30 – Keep Holding on to Books – Book Aesthetic
  • August 31 – Malanie Loves Fiction – Review

WEEK THREE


Have you read Darius the Great Is Not Okay? Are you a fan of tea? Have you been to Iran? What’s your favorite YA contemporary read this year so far? Share your thoughts below!

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30 thoughts on “BLOG TOUR: Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram + Author Guest Post

  1. Really enjoyed this. Interested that your dad was born and raised in Iran – I’m always curious to visit but for the same reasons as you it’s kept me away. I’m goad the book gave you the chance to research into Iran and add some awesome things to your list. The bazaar would be right up my street!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved how this book made me curious to visit Iran too! I hope both you and the author (and me) will finally be able to go there soon. I think all of them are “must-visit” places.

      Like

    1. Thanks to Adib! Hehe and same. I am also intrigued to see these places he mentioned. 💖 I’ve never been out of my country before.

      Like

    1. I hope you’ll be able to read great YA books someday! If you feel like reading YA, I think I can help you with that. 😀

      Like

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