Belonging to two worlds yet never fully comfortable in either, Darius Kellner is nervous about his first trip to his mother’s native country of Iran. The self-proclaimed “fractional” Persian American teen doesn’t think his grandparents will understand his clinical depression, and he’s pretty sure no one in his family gets how things work at his high school, where he’s at the bottom of the social hierarchy. Author Adib Khorram follows his protagonist on this formative visit abroad, nailing the voice of a young person struggling with his mental health. It’s a heartfelt exploration of anxiety and isolation, as well as community and identity, and an intricate look at the tensions that exist between discovering who you are and accepting that person. The 2018 novel, a Lambda Literary Award finalist, tackles tough questions surrounding what it means to truly feel like you fit in, all while delivering a breezy narrative packed with imagery that celebrates Iranian culture. —Annabel Gutterman

Buy Now: Darius the Great Is Not Okay on Bookshop | Amazon

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at