How it All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi

Published September 22, 2020

Hardcover, 288 pages


(Thanks to Bookishfirst & Viking Books for Young Readers, I received a copy for review)


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.


I was very excited to get a chance to read this one early, because this author has been on my radar for quite some time now. I’m glad I got a chance to read this one first, I enjoyed the flow and how there were interrogations thrown in. I felt that this really added to the my enjoyment because it was a very interesting way to get thing out and see the treatment the characters were facing.

I thought Amir was a bit of a dramatic character and a bit too over the top, but with that being said he had extremely good points he was making. I can definitely see how he thought his world was ending throughout high school drama, though his actions were definitely far fetched in my opinion. I found it very interesting reading about his new life in Italy and how he was spending his time just enjoying life, for what he felt like was the first time.

Overall I found this book enjoyable and written at a great pace. I just found the main character a bit too much for me. I will definitely be giving this author’s other books a go very soon.

Boston Book Reader