Book Review

How It All Blew Up – Arvin Ahmadi

Today I am reviewing How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi. Many thanks to Arvin and Hot Key Books for my copy of the book which I received via NetGalley.


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.



From reading the author’s note it is obvious that this is a deeply personal book. I can only imagine how difficult his life has been at times and even then I suspect I will not be picturing anything close to reality.

Amir has such a distinctive voice that I found myself with a very clear picture of him in my mind almost instantly. I loved the almost humorous tone with which he deals with what must be an awful situation of being detained at an airport, an attitude that forms a stark contrast to the sorrowful, defeated air to his father, Afshin’s, interview. He seems broken by the system and by circumstance, and that just made me feel so sad for him. In a further contrast to both Amir and Afshin, feisty Soraya is a real force of nature and a character I would like to get to know more.

The vibrant atmosphere of Rome is brought to life in marvellous technicolour that made me long to be back there, and even more to be part of Jahan’s circle of friends. They just felt so full of life and exuberance. The truly overwhelming nature of the city and the people Amir meets, as someone who has lived a sheltered existence up to that point, is captured in mind-spinning detail.

How It All Blew Up is a true coming of age novel as Amir learns how to blend all the conflicting aspects of who he is and become truly comfortable in his own skin.

How It All Blew Up is out now, and you can order your copy here.

You can find out more about Arvin Ahmadi’s other books on Goodreads.

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