A special category on PaulsPicks for this one: I got through it in less than one day. Darius is just a fantastic character who you will want to follow along with.
Two key parts of Khorram’s book with stick with me: his treatment of mental illness and male friendships.
Darius is being treated for depression. He has a therapist and takes medication… He seems ok, but there’s always an underlying tension, especially when being constantly bullied at school and having an awkward relationship with his father, and being one of the only Persian students at his school.
We learn a great deal about Darius in the first couple chapters of the book as he goes to classes at his Portland area high school and his job at the tea shop at the local mall. We also get many references to his favorite JRR Tolkien books. But we really start to learn about him when he is a fish out of water when he and his family travel to Iran to visit his mother’s family. He is confronted with a family and a world that he doesn’t truly understand and don’t really understand him. But he find a lifeline in a neighbor kid named Sohrab who pulls him out of his grandparents house to play soccer. In him he finds a salve for the awkwardness of his father and the misunderstanding of the rest of his family.
The writing is wonderful and the cultural lessons are truly memorable. If you are interested in multicultural coming-of-ago books, this is one you need to read.