BLOG TOUR: Darius the Great Is Not Okay, Adib Khorram (August 28, 2018)

I let Dad hold me, like that tiny potato-sack version of myself, sleeping on his chest when I was a baby.

“You’re okay,” he murmured.

“No. I’m not.”

“I know.” He rubbed my back up and down. “It’s okay not to be okay.”

This book has been on the top of my TBR for months. So when Penguin Teen contacted me about being a part of the official blog, I jumped at the chance. DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY has everything: a diverse main character, an accurate description and portrayal of mental illness, and realistic family dynamics.

The 411: The son of a Persian woman and a Caucasian man, Darius has never felt like he belonged. He doesn’t speak Farsi. He’s not athletic or fit enough to please his seemingly alpha-male father. The only thing he appears to have in common with him is their daily ritual of taking their medication for depression. Darius would rather master the perfect pot of tea than be the captain of the football team and because of this, he feels even more isolated from his family, his school, and his community.  When his maternal grandfather’s health begins to decline, Darius’ family makes the  trip to Iran to visit before he passes. It’s there where he meets, Sohrab, the teenage neighbor to his grandparents. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s 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.

DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY tackles a bunch of big issues: the stigma of mental illness, racism, fatphobia, sexual identity…and they’re all covered with a subtlety that feels perfected over the years vs. a debut novel. Sometimes books need to hit you over the head with the message and sometimes the strength of the moral is in the quiet. And that’s where DARIUS lives.

Darius’ struggle with the feeling of not belonging felt overwhelmingly real and personal. I am not biracial, but an international adoptee who grew up in a largely white area and has often felt the sting of not belonging or being in between. Sohrab and Darius’ friendship melted my little heart. I loved seeing Darius feel a part of something for the first time. A place where he intrinsically fit in just because of the person he is. I hope everyone finds their Sohrab. And I hope that everyone has their moment when they are Darioush to someone.

DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY is such a feel-good novel that I have a feeling will touch hearts everywhere. I’m incredibly excited to see where Khorram goes from here. We need more Dariuses in our lives.

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 (SCY) under a minute, or learning to do a Lutz Jump. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri. This is his first novel.

Thank you Penguin Teen for my copy of DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY and the bag of Earl Grey Tea—it was the perfect accompaniment to this heartwarming novel.

I’m Moderating My Second Author Panel!

As you all may know, back in May I moderated my first author panel on the St. Paul stop of the Fierce Reads Tour from Macmillan. A few weeks ago I was contacted by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers about moderating an author in October…and this time it’s with…

The lovely, LAINI TAYLOR!

I had to leave BookExpo early and was super bummed when I found out I wasn’t going to be able to attend her ARC signing of MUSE OF NIGHTMARES. The first book, STRANGE THE DREAMER, was one of my biggest surprises of 2017 and I was so excited to dive back into the world of Weep. So you can imagine my delight and surprise when I got a copy of MUSE in the mail about a month later. (I apologize to my coworkers, that was a pretty loud pterodactyl scream I let out.)

STRANGE THE DREAMER tells the story of librarian Lazlo Strange, who has been obsessed with the mythical city of Weep and what exactly happened to it and its inhabitants. He’s then given a once in a lifetime opportunity to not only find out the answers, but to go to Weep itself. Then there’s a backstory with some teens with blue skin who powers and of course, a perfect love story if that’s your sort of thing (it’s mine).

MUSE is the second book in this duology and it’s perfect. I was super satisfied with the ending of this story. [Full review of MUSE OF NIGHTMARES to come!]

If you’re in the Twin Cities area, you should def drop by the wonderful Red Balloon Bookshop on October 8 and hang with me and Laini. Her writing is so lyrical and gorgeous and the worlds she creates are so detailed and diverse, I cannot WAIT to chat with her.