"Darius the Great Is Not Okay" by Adib Khorram, Chapters 1–5

Darius has always struggled to fit in: he suffers from depression, he is bullied at school, and he can never seem to meet his father's high expectations. When Darius's family travels to Iran to visit his grandparents, Darius finds a place where he belongs, and a true friendship, for the first time.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1–5, Chapters 6–10, Chapters 11–14, Chapters 15–19, Chapters 20–26, Chapters 27–36

Activities for this list:

definitions & notes only words
  1. robust
    marked by richness and fullness of flavor
    He was convinced, despite all the articles I printed out for him—he refused to read web pages—that each and every tea should be steeped at a full boil, whether it was a robust Yunnan or a fragile gyokuro.
  2. spigot
    a regulator for controlling the flow of a liquid
    I shoveled tea from the bright orange tin into the filter basket, topped it with two scoops of rock sugar, and tucked it under the spigot.
  3. predisposed
    made susceptible
    As a people group, Persians are genetically predisposed to like tea.
  4. categorical
    not modified or restricted by reservations
    I was categorically opposed to plastic sample cups. Everything tasted gross out of plastic, all chemical-y and bland.
  5. dismal
    causing dejection
    That way, when I graduated, I could work at an artisanal tea store, instead of one that added the latest superfood extract to whatever dismal fannings the corporate tea blenders could find at the steepest discount.
  6. ware
    commodities offered for sale
    The entire front of Tea Haven was composed of giant windows, which, though tinted to reduce sun exposure, still offered a full and enticing view of the wares (and employees) inside.
  7. minion
    a servile or fawning dependant
    He grabbed the doorframe and swung himself into the store, followed by one of his Soulless Minions of Orthodoxy, Chip Cusumano.
  8. orthodoxy
    the quality of adhering to what is commonly accepted
    He grabbed the doorframe and swung himself into the store, followed by one of his Soulless Minions of Orthodoxy, Chip Cusumano.
  9. suggestive
    tending to hint at something improper or indecent
    Trent Bolger never called me Darius. Not if there was a suggestive nickname he could use instead.
  10. taper
    diminish gradually
    Chip had on his team sweatshirt too, but he wore it with his usual black joggers, the kind with stripes down the sides that taper around the ankles.
  11. nuance
    a subtle difference in meaning or opinion or attitude
    Clearly the nuances of my interaction with Fatty Bolger, the World’s Most Boring Hobbit, were lost on Charles Apatan.
  12. hitch
    a connection between a vehicle and the load that it pulls
    “People hook them on the hitch of their truck...”
  13. imminent
    close in time; about to occur
    Thankfully, the Audi had all sorts of flashing lights and sensors, so it could sound Red Alert when a collision was imminent.
  14. falafel
    fried croquette of mashed chickpeas and spices
    Despite what boring Hobbits like Fatty Bolger might have thought, I did not go home and have falafel for dinner.
  15. lull
    a pause during which things are calm
    I used the lull in conversation to reach across the table for more pasta, but Dad pressed the salad bowl into my hands instead.
  16. indiscretion
    a petty misdeed
    There was no point arguing with Stephen Kellner about dietary indiscretions.
  17. deity
    a supernatural being worshipped as controlling the world
    Tonight, it was “Who Watches the Watchers?” which is an episode from the third season where a pre-warp culture starts to worship Captain Picard as a deity called The Picard.
  18. resonant
    characterized by a loud deep sound
    He was smart; he loved “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.”; and he had the best voice ever: deep and resonant and British.
  19. preemptive
    designed to prevent an anticipated situation or occurrence
    Dad preemptively turned up the volume on the TV. Sure enough, after a second, Mom started yelling in Farsi at her computer.
  20. vector
    a variable quantity that can be resolved into components
    My knowledge of Farsi consisted of four primary vectors: (1) familial relations; (2) food words, because Mom always called the Persian food she cooked by its proper name; (3) tea words, because, well, I’m me; and (4) politeness phrases, the sort you learn in middle school foreign language classes, though no middle school in Portland has ever offered Farsi as an option.
  21. trill
    the articulation of a consonant with a flutter of the tongue
    Unlike me, Laleh did speak Farsi, pretty much fluently. When she was a baby, Mom talked to her in Farsi, and had all her friends do the same. Laleh grew up with the ear for it—the uvular fricatives and alveolar trills that I could never get quite right.
  22. flounce
    walk in an emphatic or exaggerated way
    Laleh flounced onto the couch on Dad’s other side and tucked her feet underneath her butt, disturbing the gravitational fields on the couch so Dad leaned away from me and toward her.
  23. dialect
    the usage or vocabulary characteristic of a group of people
    Mamou and babou mean mother and father in Dari, which is the dialect my grandparents spoke growing up Zoroastrian in Yazd.
  24. loom
    appear very large or occupy a commanding position
    My grandmother loomed large on the monitor, her head tiny and her torso enormous.
  25. fluctuate
    be unstable
    Mamou’s picture kept freezing and unfreezing, occasionally turning into chunky blocks as the bandwidth fluctuated.
  26. garbled
    lacking orderly continuity
    It was like a garbled transmission from a starship in distress.
  27. zodiac
    a circular diagram representing the 12 constellations
    Mom said it had something to do with the zodiac and Pisces, but then she admitted that if it weren’t for Laleh, who loved taking care of the goldfish, she wouldn’t include them at all.
  28. leviathan
    monstrous sea creature symbolizing evil in the Old Testament
    The largest fish, a leviathan nearly the size of Laleh’s hand, only had its right eye.
  29. solemn
    dignified and somber in manner or character
    Since Laleh was in charge of feeding the fish, she had also taken upon herself the solemn duty of naming them.
  30. depression
    mental state characterized by a despondent lack of activity
    Dad and I both took medication for depression.
  31. coalesce
    fuse or cause to come together
    A Level Three Awkward Silence began to coalesce around us, like interstellar hydrogen pulled together by gravity to form a new nebula.
  32. interstellar
    between or among stars
    A Level Three Awkward Silence began to coalesce around us, like interstellar hydrogen pulled together by gravity to form a new nebula.
  33. articulate
    characterized by clear expressive language
    He spoke English well enough, and what few words I could extract from him were accented but articulate.
  34. pry
    be nosey
    To be honest, I wasn’t sure that was really a thing—being physiologically incapable of burping—but Javaneh was the closest thing I had to a friend at Chapel Hill High School, so I didn’t want to risk alienating her by prying too deeply.
  35. quantum
    the smallest discrete quantity of some physical property
    I’d been dealing with jokes like that my entire life—well, ever since I started school, anyway—so it was nothing new. But that time it set me off like a high-yield quantum torpedo.

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