GUEST WRITER LAURA NOBLE RECOMMENDS DARIUS DESERVES BETTER BY ADIB KHORRAM
After meeting Darius for the first time a couple of years ago in the first installment of the Darius series, I was thrilled to hear of the second book. The first touched on mental health, the importance of speaking your truth, and understanding the importance of families. Khorram wrote about being in a multi-racial family and showed the beauty of learning about your own heritage and culture. While the second book in the series does have small parts that focus on microagressions and how they are dealt with (or not dealt with) Darius the Great Deserves Better reminds us what it’s like to fall in love for the first time. This book is about falling in love not only romantically, but learning to love yourself, too.
The best part of this book was what wasn’t there. We learn quickly that Darius has come out to his family and friends as gay – and what’s missing? There’s no fall out. There’s no dismissive or abusive parents. There’s no being kicked out of your church, family, or school. There’s support. And you know what? That’s needed. Books that show positive reactions to queer young people need to exist, and this novel is a fantastic example.
This is not meant to be dismissive of LGBTQ+ centered media that does shed light on the abuse and neglect that happens to queer people, but there is a serious lack of positive and affirming media that shows how being gay is not the end of the world, and it doesn’t mean that your life will become dismantled in all ways, shapes, and forms. We are inundated with negative facts and statistics about LGBTQ+ youth, but so rarely is there a spotlight given to anything that may talk about the positives of being gay. There are times in Darius where there are characters that may say something homophobic, but there is not a central plot that focuses on any sort of abuse and this, sadly, is rare to see. Having three young male characters who are not heterosexual yet do not fall into stereotypes is fantastic and can often be a source of healing for many.
Daruis and his extended family are easy to fall in love with – his gifted younger sister, his workaholic but loving mother, and of course, his father. The real relationship that should be spoken of is the one between Darius and his father – both of whom suffer from depression. Having an adult character who is dealing with mental health issues in a realistic way is important for young readers to see. This novel sheds light on the fact that parents do not always have the answers, and that’s ok.
While I would suggest reading the first book in the series beforehand, you will be happy to have this novel on your shelf. Covering many relevant and current issues, this book is one that will inspire and encourage young folks to be their true selves – and what more could we ask for?
Laura Noble teaches English and Writing at Leo Hayes High School in Fredericton. She is an avid reader of true crime, realistic fiction, and feminist literature.