Soulless minions of orthodoxy. Ah, high school. Middle school. Incredibly toxic workplaces. We have them everywhere, even if we are supposed to be in bully-free zones.
Darius is really just trying to live life, doing his after school job with the corporate-mandated greetings, watching Star Trek with a dad who doesn’t understand him, being a Fractional Persian, taking his meds. He doesn’t think going to Iran to see his dying grandfather will help with any of that, although he suspects there will be some good food and tea there.
There is that and so much more. He makes a friend, a true friend, a best friend. Watching him live his life in the new space, we see a whole different Darius unfurl, be tested, doubt himself, love, let go. Sohrab is one of those friends of the soul we’re lucky to have maybe once or twice in life, and Darius sees that and knows, even in his worst moments, how much that matters.
Reading this book on a gloomy day, I was transported, not just to Iran with Darius and his family, but also through the tricky, painful edges of the way his brain works, back to friends of my youth whose laughter and support helped me through my own tough moments. Though I can hardly watch the news without feeling despair these days, this sad, joyous, tender, beautiful book manages to end on a note of hope, and that is a gift indeed.
Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram