Review: How It All Blew Up

how it all blew up

Title: How It All Blew Up
Author: Arvin Ahmadi
Genres:  Contemporary
Pages: 304 pages
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Review Copy: Library
Availability: Available now!

Summary: 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 U.S. 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. 

Review: To be honest, I read How It All Blew Up last year — it came out in September! — but I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It’s a book I’ve been recommending constantly to friends, so I figured I might as well sit down and put my thoughts to paper (er, blog). So without further ado, let’s get into it!

How It All Blew Up is exactly what it says on the tin: How it all blew up for Amir, a gay Muslim teen who packs up and makes a run for it when everything in his life goes awry — bullying and blackmail and heartbreak. He heads to Rome, where he embarks on a whirlwind adventure of love, exploration, and finding friends you can truly connect with. But how all of that ends in an airport interrogation room is something I’ll leave you to find out. I’m not in the business of spoilers!

What I will say is that the journey is just as compelling as the destination. The frame narrative of the airport interrogation room, the quick glimpses you get into Amir’s life, are so well done. This book is a page-turner, and you’ll definitely want to read the whole thing in one sitting.

TL;DR: Pick up How It All Blew Up if you haven’t already. It’s a thrilling read with a little of everything — romance, an adventure in Rome, friendship, identity, and family — and you won’t be able to put this book down.

Recommendation: Buy it now!