Books

ARC Review: How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi

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I received an ARC of this book via Bonnier Books UK and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Description

Eighteen-year-old Amir Azadi always knew that coming out to his Muslim family would be messy, but he wasn’t expecting it to end in an airport interrogation room. Now, he’s telling his side of the story to the stern-faced officer.

Amir has to explain why he ran away to Rome (boys, bullies, blackmail) and what he was doing there for a month (dates in the Sistine Chapel, friends who helped him accept who he is, and, of course, drama) . . . all while his mum, dad and little sister are being interrogated in the room next door.


A nuanced take on growing up brown, Muslim and gay in today’s America, HOW IT ALL BLEW UP is the story of one boy’s struggle to come out to his family, and how that painful process exists right alongside his silly, sexy romp through Italy.

My thoughts

I wasn’t sure what to expect when How It All Blew Up appeared on my NetGalley shelf. It looked colourful, fun and interesting based on the cover alone and – let me tell you – the story inside definitely delivered.

This book follows Amir Azadi, an eighteen year old coming to terms with his sexuality (and how his Muslim family will react to it). Except this isn’t just a story about family and sexuality, it’s a story about race, romance and it just so happens to take place in Rome – just one of the places I would go rushing back to if I had the opportunity (and if Coronavirus wasn’t a thing!).

Amir is young, immature but also funny and smart. Though he definitely did annoy me at times, I enjoyed reading his narrative and I loved seeing his journey unfold as the story went on.

Amir is supported by a series of weird and wonderful characters, who are sometimes stereotypical but equally as loveable and significant where Amir’s journey is concerned.

I have to say I loved how Ahmadi set the scene. Though I definitely didn’t take full advantage of Rome when I was there – what seems like hundreds of years ago – I loved how he transports you to that little cafe in a street corner, a beautiful natural scene or a exhilarating, fun party. It satisfied my need for a holiday – without me even leaving the house, packing a suitcase and getting sunburnt on the first day!

I also really liked the contrast in narratives, between the beautiful scenes in Rome and the less than beautiful interrogation room at an airport. It was interesting having the characters look back on how they thought and felt, and how their viewpoints changed as the narrative went on.

My only problem is, though I liked the ending, I didn’t feel that satisfied by it. I thought I knew how it was going to end, but the way it did end surprised me. It surprised me because it made me think Amir’s story wasn’t quite over and, after reading this book, I hope it isn’t.

How It All Blew Up is an interesting, thoughtful and heartwarming read.

How It All Blew Up will be published on 22nd September 2020.

What have you been reading recently? I’d love to chat in the comments 😊.

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