It's a new Darius in DARIUS THE GREAT DESERVES BETTER. His family's visit to Iran and the friendships he made there have been life changers for the Persian American teen. Once friendless and verbally bullied for being overweight and "different," he's now starting his junior year at a Portland, Oregon, high school confident, in shape, and no longer willing to put up with being bullied. He makes the varsity soccer team, starts an internship at Rose City Teas, and begins a relationship with Landon, the son of the tea shop owner and his first-ever boyfriend. He's even become closer to his father, with whom he's had a distant relationship. But there are still big challenges to be faced. The family's finances are in a precarious state, so his father's taken a temporary job out of town and his mother's working lots of overtime. To fill the gap in parental oversight for Darius and his 9-year-old sister, Laleh, Darius' father has called in Darius' grandmothers to help. Grandmothers plural because his grandfather has transitioned to female and is still married to Darius' grandmother. On top of all this, Landon begins pressuring Darius to take their relationship to the next level sexually, Laleh is being bullied at school, and his grandfather in Iran is dying. Then there's Chip, a soccer teammate who once bullied him but has now become a close friend … or possibly something more.
This is a story for any teen who's ever felt "different," a story about what can happen when you find the confidence to step out and grab hold of your dreams. While still filled with warmth and humor, Darius the Great Deserves Better has a sharper edge than Darius the Great Is Not Okay, with more mature storylines about teen sex, homophobia, "toxic masculinity" in sports, and a transgender family member.