Review of Darius the Great Deserves Better

Darius the Great Deserves Better
by Adib Khorram
High School    Dial    352 pp.    g
8/20    978-0-59310-823-9    $17.99

Since we last saw “Fractional Persian” Darius in 2019 Boston Globe–Horn Book honor book Darius the Great Is Not Okay (rev. 9/18), he’s come out as gay, and has a boyfriend. Now back in Portland, Oregon, after his family trip to Iran, he’s also started an internship at his favorite tea shop, made the varsity soccer team, and found friendship with his teammates. If only boyfriend Landon wasn’t pressuring him for sex; he wasn’t experiencing feelings for a teammate; and his dream job was living up to expectations. Add in his ongoing battle with clinical depression, his family’s financial troubles and other worries, and not knowing why best friend Sohrab in Iran isn’t answering his calls, and it’s clear Darius deserves better. Khorram’s emotional second book addresses many serious issues but is grounded in everyday life. Through Darius’s intimate, conversational narration, Khorram provides moments of levity (mortification after an interrupted make-out session; a “catastrophic hull breach,” a.k.a. an unfortunate kneeing during practice) as well as insight into Darius’s insecurities (he’s self-conscious about his appearance, new to dating, and prone to crying while on his medication). Darius’s honest exploration of his sexual identity builds upon the growth he experienced with his cultural identity in the first book, and leaves readers curious and hopeful about where his journey will take him next.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Cynthia K. Ritter
Cynthia K. Ritter

Cynthia K. Ritter is managing editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She earned a master's degree in children's literature from Simmons University.

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