Darius the Great Deserves Better

Dial. Aug. 2020. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593108239.
Gr 8 Up–In the award-winning Darius the Great Is Not Okay, Iranian American Darius’s sexuality is inferred, but never stated. Now Darius is out, has a boyfriend, and is supported by his family and high school soccer teammates. He video-chats with his best friend and family in Iran for updates about his dying grandfather, but while Iran’s landscapes and Persian culture are spotlighted in the first book, here the focus is on Darius navigating the complexities of being a multiracial gay teenager. He continues to be bullied, but Darius is more concerned with his younger sister Laleh’s first experiences with racism and microaggressions. As his parents struggle financially and, like Darius, with depression, his aloof, queer grandmothers are asked to live with the family for a while to help out. They eventually open up as family dilemmas force them to be more involved, and Darius learns a little about their relationship and LGBTQIA+ history. This is a page-turning YA romance at its core. The repeating line, “That’s normal, right?” reminds readers that Darius is an insecure teenager who is trying to figure out life, just like everybody else. The author skillfully places worries about being uncircumcised and having inopportune erections alongside descriptions of elegant oolong tea tastings. The soccer team’s supportive culture, established by their Black female coach, is set neatly within the frame of Darius’s tense family dynamic.
VERDICT Khorram again presents an artful tapestry of sci-fi fandom, Persian culture, soccer, racism, sexuality, depression, family crises, a love triangle, and endless amounts of global teas in Darius’s compelling story. Despite all of the seemingly disparate elements, this is a seamless and profound YA novel with a memorable and endearing main character.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing