The Science of Breakable Things


The Science of Breakable Things (audiobook)

by Tae Keller


Natalie is an average middle school student.  She has a very excited science teacher who has everyone think of a question and answer it via the scientific method.  Natalie lives with her therapist father and her botanist mother, but she is a bit lost when her mother falls into a depression and Natalie is afraid she stopped caring about her.  Because neither of her parents are communicating with her, Natalie fears she is to blame for her mother’s depression, and she sets out to make her happy again by winning an egg-drop contest to buy the orchid her mother once loved to research.  Natalie uses the scientific method to try and solve the mystery of her mother’s depression.

What I liked about this book was the way it approached a sensitive and relevant topic, depression.  Although it is more commonly spoken about these days, it stigmatizes the depressed person and those around them, and so fewer people are willing to admit when they are depressed, much less seek help.  This book shows that depression isn’t something to be embarrassed about, and it isn’t the fault of the family members.  It is an illness that needs to be dealt with professionally.  I feel like many of my students would be able to relate to that.  I, personally, have many family members who suffer from depression, and this might have helped me when I was younger.

What I didn’t like about this book was the way it made me feel very sad for Natalie.  I can’t imagine having a mother and then not.  It made me think twice about whether I abandon my own kids emotionally at times.  It’s not that I’m depressed, but sometimes I have so many other things going on, I am not giving my children the support they need, much like Natalie felt abandoned by both of her parents.

Book 1 of 2019


Darius the Great is Not Okay


Darius the Great is Not Okay (audiobook)

by Adib Khorram


Darius is a high school fractional Persian boy living in Portland with his Persian mother and American father.  He is struggling to figure out who he is, while being bullied by the popular boys at school and feeling his dad’s disapproval.  Darius is slightly overweight.  He is not particularly skilled in school, does not stand up for himself when he is picked on, and has few real friends.  To make matters worse, he suffers from clinical depression and is on medication.  When he finds out his grandfather in Iran is dying, his family picks up and goes to visit him for a few weeks.  Darius is hyper aware of certain things, like being overweight and not fitting in, but it is different in Iran.  He immediately makes friends with another boy named Sohrab, and they quickly become close.  They spend time with Darius’s family and bond over soccer, loneliness, and an unusual connection.  When Darius leaves Iran, he feels more confident in who he is.

What I liked about this book is that it covered the important subject of depression and suicide, yet it was done in a humorous and natural way.  It didn’t feel forced.  It was a real situation based on the author’s experiences.  I also like that I got to learn more about Persian culture, especially the holidays, and the different social customs among Persians in America and Iran.

What I didn’t like about this book is that I expected Darius and Sohrab to realize they were in love with each other, because it felt very “Aristotle and Dante” but that never happened!  Not that it matters, but I couldn’t tell whether either character was gay and had feelings other than friendship for the other.

Book 76 of 2018