I read Darius the Great Is Not Okay last year, prepared to LOVE it, and really just liked it. That’s not an indictment of the book–it was a good book! I was curious to see where Adib Khorram would take the story next, and as it turned out, he really dug deep into the characters.
Darius Kellner has returned from his spring trip to Iran. He’s still best friends with Sohrab and has joined the soccer team at school. He’s made friends. He’s gotten a new haircut and a new boyfriend (that’s not a spoiler–it’s part of the premise. Yet change is in the air. Babou is still very sick. His parents look strained. His grandmothers are coming for a long visit. And Chip Cusumano, once one of his tormentors, is behaving…like a friend. What gives?
This book explores queer identity and romantic love in a way that Adib Khorram only hinted at before. What I deeply appreciated about this book was that Darius’s father gets VERY real about sex and love in an awkward but necessary parental conversation. Khorram does not depict queer love like a TV special but rather shows us Darius’s inner conflicts about liking Landon, liking physical behaviors, but being uncertain about how far he wants to go and when. I think most teenagers are like this and feel pressured to go further than they want to, because they think they should want sex. I appreciate the conversations that Khorram brings up, and I would not be averse to another Darius novel. I think you should read the first novel before this one, as it gives you some context about the Kellner family, which is broadened here. I’m glad to have kicked off my reading year with an excellent book!