TITLE: Darius the Great Deserves Better (Darius the Great, #2)
AUTHOR: Adib Khorram
RELEASE DATE: August 25, 2020
SETTING: Portland, Oregon
PUBLISHER: Dial Books, Penguin Teen
GENRE(S): Coming of Age, Contemporary, Young Adult, Mental Health, Family and Culture, Relationships, LGBT
In this companion to the award-winning Darius the Great Is Not Okay, Darius suddenly has it all: a boyfriend, an internship, a spot on the soccer team. It’s everything he’s ever wanted–but what if he deserves better?
Darius Kellner is having a bit of a year. Since his trip to Iran this past spring, a lot has changed. He’s getting along with his dad, and his best friend Sohrab is only a Skype call away. Between his first boyfriend, Landon, his varsity soccer practices, and his internship at his favorite tea shop, Darius is feeling pretty okay. Like he finally knows what it means to be Darius Kellner.
Then, of course, everything changes. Darius’s grandmothers are in town for a long visit while his dad is gone on business, and Darius isn’t sure whether they even like him. The internship isn’t what Darius thought it would be, and now he doesn’t know about turning tea into his career. He was sure he liked Landon, but when he starts hanging out with Chip–soccer teammate and best friend of Trent Bolger, epic bully–well, he’s just not so sure about Landon anymore, either.
Darius thought he knew exactly who he was and what he wanted, but maybe he was wrong. Maybe he deserves better.
It was so wonderful to be in the headspace of Darius Kellner once again. He is such an incredible character, with his sweet nature and flaws. Reading these pages was like being with a friend you have missed.
This takes place a few months after the Kellners return from their trip to Yazd. So many things have changed… Some for the better, but then again, some for the worse. Darius has a job (well unpaid internship) at a great tea shop, a new boyfriend and a spot on the soccer team. He has become sort of friends with one of his former bullies, Chip. His relationship with his father is better than ever, having really connected during the finals days of their Iran trip. And he is constantly emailing and video chatting with Sohrab.
But, on the other hand, money is tight after the trip they took and both of his parents have to take on more at work, leaving them both drained. Laleh is acting different due to problems at school and she is shutting herself away in her room all the time. His grandfather’s health is declining at a rapid rate. And Trent is still as awful as ever, sometimes even more than before.
I truly adored the friendship that blooms between Darius and Chip, something that begins after he returns from Iran. Chip was cruel to him through most of his childhood, right alongside Trent, but he is really making an effort to be friends with Darius, where Trent just gets meaner than ever. Watching Darius maneuver through those new feelings was really incredible. He has to decided if he wants to put all that hurt behind him or not. And then we have the relationship with Landon, the tea shop owner’s son. I think that Darius learns a lot about himself and a lot about what he wants at this time in his life emotionally and physically with another boy.
Then, when his father has to go away on an extended business trip, his grandmothers, Grandma and Oma come to stay with them to help out. The relationship is strained between Darius and his grandmothers, which he has trouble with, assuming that since they are all gay, they would have at least some common ground.
I loved the representation of the very real issue Darius and Laleh face with other people (mainly white people) either downright bullying them because of their heritage, or (in most cases adults especially) not knowing how to deal with reprimanding the individuals who judge them so harshly.
I loved the queer representation in this, with not only Darius coming into his own and discovering who he is, but the trans rep with his grandmother. It is all done really beautifully.
This book was so full of both love and sadness and I am so thankful to have read it.