My Favourite Book of the Year, Wherein I Cried At Least Six Separate Times aka Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

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“It’s okay not to be okay.”

I guess writing about my 5 star crisis helped to break that horrible jinx that I was going through this year, because I found a five star read less than a week after scheduling it.

And as you can see by the title, it’s this masterpiece.

Spoiler: I loved it.

Darius the Great Is Not Okay follows Darius, a biracial teen who flies to Iran with his parents and younger sister to connect with his Iranian side of the family and his grandparents. Darius has grown up in America his whole life, and heading to Iran is a completely scary experience for him.

Something you should know about this book is that I cried at least six different times during the book (and when I say at least six different times I mean on separate occasions), which is not only incredibly impressive but also notoriously difficult. I am one of the most stone-cold readers out there, and I can count on one hand the number of books that genuinely made me cry.

If you all want to know how emotional I was reading this book, my main memories of reading this book were trying not to cry on the train home and trying not to full-on sob at home when my sister was reading next to me. No joke.

Khorram has crafted such an absolutely beautiful and gorgeous novel. It was such a cathartic and tender novel, which made me cry, laugh, smile, and then break my heart while simultaneously gluing it back together.

It is a beautiful novel about Persian culture, friendship, mental health and finding yourself in a world that rejects anything that it does not consider to be the norm. 

I absolutely loved reading about Iran. I have never been to Iran myself, nor have I read a book set in Iran, but something I absolutely always have loved in books was exploring different cultures. I loved learning about all the Persian food, the traditions, the different landmarks and cities, and absolutely everything about it.

Darius suffers from clinical depression, which his dad also goes through, and the representation was absolutely wonderful and so eye-opening to see. While I do not have clinical depression myself, the representation of clinical depression was absolutely phenomenal to read about, especially since it is so rarely seen in YA.

Granted, I’m not an OV reader, so take my thoughts with a grain of salt! However, I personally identified with many of Darius’s thoughts regarding depression, and I really appreciated how it called out the stigma around it, especially in regards to how older family members perceived Darius’s conditions and Darius’s feelings on that.

In the novel, Darius has had a tense relationship with his father, and the book truly did an EXCELLENT job at portraying their relationship, and really delving into Darius’s hurt and feelings of abandonment by both of his parents. It was A+ and so well done and I loved it with my whole heart and soul.

The biracial representation, in particular, was just so fantastic and I really related to Darius’s feelings of being biracial. While I am not biracial myself, I was primarily raised in a western environment and am not particularly well-versed in actually being Chinese. Therefore, I could truly relate to Darius’s feelings of alienation, especially amongst his Persian peers/family, and feeling not Persian enough, which is something that DEEPLY resonated with me since it was an experience that I myself have gone through. I was far too familiar with Darius’s hurt when he was constantly told he wasn’t Persian enough because it is something I myself go through too. I’m seen as too white, especially in terms of mannerisms, behavior etc. (while being true, is still hurtful to be called out upon) to be properly considered Chinese, but also too Asian to be considered white if that makes sense?

This review is high-key a mess, and I’m sorry, but I don’t have the eloquence to describe what an EXPERIENCE this was. It made ME cry multiple times, so if you want to be emotionally wrecked by a book, look no further.

But seriously, Darius the Great Is Not Okay was a GORGEOUS, once-in-a-lifetime, experience that I was beyond honored to be able to have experienced. It is criminally underrated, and I will continue to boost it forever and always. It is so needed and important in today’s world. So many teens would love having this, and it has so much good in it. Darius is truly such a wonderful character to read from, and you will be left wanting more as soon as you read its final words.

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Have you read Darius the Great Is Not Okay, and if so, what did you think of it? Are you interested in this book? Have you visited Iran before? What was your most recent 5-star read? I would love to know in the comments.

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20 thoughts on “My Favourite Book of the Year, Wherein I Cried At Least Six Separate Times aka Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

  1. AHH I am so so so very excited and impatient to read this book, your review and the fact that it made you so emotional just makes me wish I had a copy right here with me now to read it, it sounds absolutely INCREDIBLE ❤ This was a stunning review and I am so, so very happy that you found a 5-stars read!! ❤ ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with your thoughts wholeheartedly Taasia!! I related to Darius both with his depression-related thoughts and his feelings of conflict with his Persian identity, so much sometimes that it hurt! It definitely made me cry a lot, and I think the way it was written (what I like to call simply and subtly beautiful) just made it even more touching. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad that you so heavily related to this book too, and it’s great to hear that our thoughts agree May! The book really has excellent portrayals of both of the aspects you really related to, and which I wholeheartedly love. This book was DESIGNED to make us cry, I swear, and the writing was perfection. Your description of it was so spot on. Thank you for your kind comment, it means a lot 😭💗

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This was a lovely review!! I’m so glad you loved it so much– I am usually not a crier when it comes to books either but this one might be cry to. I have been wanting to read this books for a while and you’ve made me super excited to read it!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Taasia, I’m so glad you finally found your five star read! As I said in your previous post, 5-stars really are about *feelings*. After all, a book that makes you cry SIX times has to be a 5-star!
    I’m planning on having Darius the Great as my next read. There has been so many positive reviews for it and, as Mental Health Awareness Month, it will fit perfectly, since it deals with depression. I’m sure I’ll cry myself as well at some point, so I’ll let you know which scene was that and you can tell me if you cried there too, hahah.
    Lovely review! 💞

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  5. Oh my goodness, I’ve been seeing this book everywhere and now I *need* to read it. I love the setting of this story and especially the biracial aspect — I’m half-Cantonese Chinese and half-Caucasian, so I’m always on the lookout for books where character traverse two different cultures and create their own beautiful combination of it. 😊
    I think what you mentioned about growing up in a Western environment & not being well-versed in being Chinese is so interesting — have you written more about that, because I would love to learn more about your experience! I think that it’s easy to sometimes too easy for people to assume that someone is attached to a certain culture because of the place they grew up in or the way they look, especially if they go traveling. For me, it depends on where I go — when I went to Europe, people immediately knew I was Cantonese in some way (probably because I was traveling with my Chinese side of the family), and whenever I go to Hong Kong or other parts of Asia, people assume I’m from somewhere else.
    Anyways, I loved this review of yours! Can’t wait to read this book 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah this is an amazing book and I hope you love it if you pick it up! The setting is wonderful and the biracial rep imo (even though I’m not biracial myself) was done beautifully, and I think you’d like it!

      I did write more about this in my American Panda review last year (it was one of my first few reviews so it wasn’t that great ahahah) as that book did prominently feature this topic. I absolutely agree with your point – it’s super tiring to see people assume things about you and your culture based off what they see.

      You’re truly such a sweetheart, Zoie!! Again, I hope you love it and happiest of reading ❤


  6. Great review!! Seriously, this was the opposite of a mess. You articulated everything really well, and I’m honestly even more excited to get to this book than I already was, especially because I’m trash for any book with good depression representation. But I’ve also been really interested in reading this book because I think it’ll be really interesting to read from the perspective of someone who’s biracial and learn more about the experiences of a biracial person, so I’m so glad to hear that that aspect of the book was done so well in your opinion and that Darius’ struggles with his racial identity were something that resonated with you. I hate that I’m moving soon and therefore can’t order this right now, but as soon as I get to Singapore (it’s confirmed, I’m moving there in July!) I am running straight to Kinokuniya to pick this up, because I need it in my life! And then I can read it and rave about it with you :)) But yeah, glad to hear that you loved this book, and hopefully you continue to read more five-star books!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura why are you so sweet ahhhhh 😭❤ I tried but I feel like it came out as keyboard smashing most of the time omg 😂 I believe the depression rep is either OV or the author has people close in life with clinicial depression! The biracial rep was absolutely fantastic and I loved it! Best of luck with the move and I hope we can meet in person!! Even though I might not be in Singapore in the school year, I’ll defo be there for at least part of the summer so I’m so happy you’re moving to SG!! Kino is truly the best even though it breaks all our wallets lmao, I can’t wait for your thoughts on it!! Hope we both find more 5 star books, happiest of reading 💖


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