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.
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Publisher: Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House
Expected Publication: August.28.2018
*Thank you First to Read for providing an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.*
Ahh I love this kid. Darius reminded me of Simon (from Simon vs.) . There’s something so damn endearing about them.
Darius is a half-Persian, clinically-depressed teen that is continually bullied at school. Told from his point of view, the reader follows him and his family from their home in Portland, Oregon to Iran where he meets his dying grandfather for the first time. In Iran Darius learns to be a bit more comfortable with himself, thanks in huge part to his new best friend, Sohrab.
At first, Darius continues to struggle with fitting in. He doesn’t feel like a true Persian because he doesn’t speak fluent Farsi (unlike his 8 year old sister), his Babou (grandfather) doesn’t understand his mental illness, and he still has issues with his father. But with Sohrab, he doesn’t have to explain himself because he understands. Because being Bahá’í, he too knows quite well what it is like to not fit in.
“Dr. Howell likes to say that depression is anger turned inward.
I had so much anger turned inward, I could have powered a warp core.
But without the proper magnetic field strength, it exploded outward instead.”
A beautiful story so subtle and wonderfully written. From the food (Qottab!!) to the landscapes to the cultural identity struggles. Iran came alive before my eyes.
The book is billed as an LGBT novel but you have to read between the lines to even get close to the label. Honestly, I don’t think I would have picked up on it if it hadn’t been promoted as such. Darius becomes close with Sohrab, but there is no romance. At all. And Darius never discusses his sexuality. I think the closest we got was when his family in Iran kept asking why he didn’t have a girlfriend which flustered him. Other than that, I didn’t see it.
My one little complaint about the book would be Darius’ dialogue. A lot of “um”. And I mean, A LOT. At least 85% of his sentences begin with “um”. I get that the author is trying to convey a part of the character’s personality, but it’s unrealistic. Nobody speaks that way. No matter how shy, anxious or whatever. No one.
Anyway, I really did enjoy this book. I loved reading about Darius’ bougie tea taste haha. I’m not a tea drinker (except for my black tea lemonade from Starbucks lol) but this kid really knows his damn tea. He’s low-key funny. And his Star Trek and Lord of the Rings references were on point. Loved it.
Rating: 4/5 stars