Darius the Great is not okay by Adib Khorram – 5/5

Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

“How could I be a tourist in my own past?”

– Adib Khorram


Book: Darius the great is not okay

Author: Adib Khorram

Published: 28 August 2018

Genre: Young adult fiction, Bildungsroman

LGBTQIA literature: Not Sure, Yet!

Publisher: Penguin Books

Cover design: Samira Iravani

Pages: 317

My rating: 5/5


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 to change his life.

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

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, 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 that okay.

“…love was and opportunity, not a burden.”

– Adib Khorram


Why do good books do this thing? I mean, come to an end? I cried enough to fill a pond and that’s not just during the ending.

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Darius the Great is not okay was a book that I chose to read after being overwhelmed by how much people usually have an opinion on other people going through depression. As a doctor and someone who has been through something similar but was lucky enough to survive because of the support of my family and friends, I know better than to be the voice of others going through it.

I honestly do not understand why and how a person can even assume that they would understand a feeling that they’ve never been through. Darius the Great is not okay was a book that spoke volumes about the very topic without coming off as overwhelming.

The story is set around a high schooler, Darius who suffers from depression and is constantly bullied in school for being from a different ethnicity (Persian on the mother’s side), his name and being plump. He is also in dismay of thinking that he is nothing but a disappointment to his father.

Darius has a supportive family but he has seen his father drift away from him over the time. The only constant thing in his life making him happy was his sister, Laleh.

Darius’ mom is originally from Iran but she has never been there after the wedding and hence Darius and Laleh haven’t been their either. They talk to their grand parents and other relatives via Skype and Darius has always felt distant because of his lack of ‘Farsi’ speaking or understanding abilities.

Source: Google

Darius’ granddad is nearing death due to a life threatening disease and they make a plan to go visit them. This experience changes Darius’ outlook on life.

The story continues as Darius struggles to feel belonged to some place and tries to mend his differences with his dad and gets to know his maternal side of the family.

The plot, as you can see, is very well set and explained. It’ll get you hooked from the beginning. The book, though initial felt medium paced, picks it up after the first few chapters and then it gets hard to put it down.

Source: Google

It’s not only relatable and the need of the hour but also feels so real. I absolutely loved reading it. There are definitely going to be several instances where the taps in my lacrimal glands were forced open and I do not mind it at all.

Source: Google

The writing is really good. The author has made me cry twice in a single page and several times before and after that.

We learn a lot of the Farsi culture. There are a lot of star wars and Lord of the rings references in the book. You can never go wrong with a book that has that.

There is no cliffhanger in the book even though there is a part II coming out soon. There however is a longing to know more because of how skillfully Adib Khorram managed to steal our hearts away with this beautiful story.

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I have thought about everything and I really can’t find a thing I would like to change about the story. It’s one of those books which devour you completely.

The book made me cry even while writing the review!

I wouldn’t mind re-reading the book. This is one of the very few books I’d add to that list. I cannot wait for Darius the Great deserves better.

I rate the book 5/5 stars and also a special thank you to the author for making me drink water.

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

– Adib Khorram

Spoiler alert

The book has a lot of beautiful and relatable situations. Especially, mental health being a taboo when Darius goes to his home country. Darius always being the target of bullying and then coming back home only to feel like he is not enough and that his sister was just a compensation for his failures was truly heart breaking.

I was so glad by how much he was loved when he went to Yazad. It changed his outlook on his life. He mended his relationship with his father and made a friend forever.

I am in awe of all the things I felt while reading this story. I somehow feel like there is chance for Darius and Sohrab to be together. That would be great if it happens in book 2.

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Some of my favourite parts include the stories that Darius learned about his mother’s childhood and how easily Sohrab made Darius feel like he belonged.

‘Jaye Shoma Khali’, the Persian version of ‘Your place was empty’ translating to you were missed was the most heart touching line from the book.

Source: Google

Coming to the characters:

Darius Kellner: Our beloved Darius has had a rough school life. From being teased for his weight and bullied for his name and origins, it doesn’t help that his relationship with his father is on the rocks. He is under medication for depression alongside his father and he does not know if there is anything in particular that has triggered it. He used to be a football player but the meds spoiled it for him. He always feels like whatever he does, it’s only going to disappoint his father. (hard relate) I felt like he was a very passionate and heart felt kid who gave his 100 percent but sometimes the 100 percent isn’t enough and it’s okay. Darius loves his sister and learns to love his family that he meets for the first time when he goes to Yazad. I want to adopt and spoil him. I absolutely loved this character and the growth he had through the book.

Sohrab: Sohrab is the sweetest friend anyone could ever imagine having. He is very welcoming and mixes well with anyone that happen to cross paths with him and does not care that you have flaws. Everyone do, don’t they? He lives with his mum and his dad was falsely arrested because of his ethnicity. Sohrab in an attempt to mix with his peers, makes a wrong decision to tease Darius but realises what he has done and apologizes immediately. Now, I’m not saying that it’s okay to lose it once in a while but I know how friendships can be lost to ego. We Stan a friend who can apologize and make up for the mistakes of their own. He yells at Darius when his father passes away and proves to us that how ever calm and collected you are, when your lost and angry, you say things that you don’t mean. He makes up to him again In-spite of grieving and that went to show how important he felt Darius was to him.

Stephen Kellner: Boy! Did I hate him in the beginning! In the process of fending for his own mental health, Stephen Kellner became one of the reason for destroying Darius’. I don’t blame him though because him being mentally stable was much more important than being there for Darius at the cost of his mental health. We do find out that he went through a very bad phase where he contemplated suicide but he did conquer it and is alive and well now. He was the silent parent who did everything without saying. The way he goes out of his comfort zone to express all his feelings to make Darius understand itself shows how much his kids mean to him and how hard he has tried to hold on.

“Everyone wants you here. We have a saying in Farsi. It translates ‘your place was empty.’ We say it when we miss somebody.”

I sniffed.

“Your place was empty before. But this is your family. You belong here.”

– Adib Khorram

What I liked about it:

1. The LOTR references! Keep em coming!
2. How the author managed to make me cry twice on the same page and many more times before and after that
3. How casually having homosexual parents is mentioned
4. How much more I love with my family after reading the book
5. How amazing it is to have read this
6. The cover
7. A very easy read
8. The afterword
9. Darius’guide to tea!
10. THE THEME OF THE BOOK and how effortlessly it fills your mind


1. It came to an end
2. I’m dehydrated
3. I need more

“You’re the only person who never wanted me to change.”

– Adib Khorram

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