How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi, #67 review

Publication date : 22 September 2020

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda goes to Italy in Arvin Ahmadi’s newest incisive look at identity and what it means to find yourself by running away.

Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew coming out to his Muslim family would be messy–he just didn’t think it would end in an airport interrogation room. But when faced with a failed relationship, bullies, and blackmail, running away to Rome is his only option. Right?

Soon, late nights with new friends and dates in the Sistine Chapel start to feel like second nature… until his old life comes knocking on his door. Now, Amir has to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth to a US Customs officer, or risk losing his hard-won freedom.

At turns uplifting and devastating, How It All Blew Up is Arvin Ahmadi’s most powerful novel yet, a celebration of how life’s most painful moments can live alongside the riotous, life-changing joys of discovering who you are.

Amir is a Muslim Iranian-American senior at High School who ditch his own graduation to run away from confrontation. He was blackmailed by his classmate, if he doesn’t pay them the requested sum of money, they will expose his sexuality. They will force him to come out as gay without his consent and his control. To escape all that, for a small temporary slice of freedom, he chose to escape to Rome – the Italian city of history & tantalising food.

In Rome, Jahan, a fellow Iranian, took Amir under his wing as his own brother and showed him the ropes of being a fearless gay. He opened Amir’s eyes to the Italian LGBT world. They formed an adopted family of friends drinking Prosecco in the park, quick coffee stops, touristy adventures & the Italian way with food.

The book starts off in an interrogation room at the airport. There are four POVs in the book, Arvin Ahmad recorded/ wrote the four perspectives of the story being told in the characters’ respective interrogation rooms. It is an interesting way to write, this is my first time reading such a tale. Although, at times it becomes repetitive and redundant because Arvin also wrote Amir’s story kinda in a diary format in between the chapters of the interrogation rooms. I much rather read the whole book in Amir’s perspective as I believe it gives more space to tell his journey.

The author missed a lot about Iranian culture and what it means to be a Muslim in America / Rome. In Rome, it was completely skipped out. Only the Iranian culture saw some context. This was a huge bust as it jumped over the representation.

“Maybe that’s the magic spell. Time. Maybe real problems aren’t solved in those big fights, those loud moments, but in the time apart. No, I sing need anymore time. I’m ready. Let’s go.”

How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi

How it all blew up plays with the theme of found family, discovering own identity, coming out in a conservative family and family comes first. One of the most important lesson is, “do not be sorry for who you are, embrace everything that is wholly YOU.” I really loved reading about all the food and coffee since Italian is my favourite cuisine.

Amir likes keeping a scoreboard. He is calculative about every action and assigns a specific number in which concludes the points were never in his favour. What is the aim of keeping track of numbers instead of living, experience and growing? He is about to find out as he spends his Summer in Rome. Join him in this tale when the book comes out in September, 22nd.

Thank you to @definitelybooks for sending me an ARC. #pansing

By elysianbooksish

The Bookish Faerie who loves to read and write, and bake too

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