Book Review: ‘How It All Blew Up’ by Arwin Ahmadi

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.” (Amazon)

Thank you to ReadersFirst for my copy of this book.

Review of How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi

My rating: 4.5/5 

Arwin Ahmadi’s How It All Blew Up has been such a fun and at the same time important book. I couldn’t believe I won a copy from ReadersFirst (big thanks!). When it finally arrived, I devoured the book in one seating. I think How It All Blew Up definitely found me definitely at the right moment, and as a result, I have enjoyed the book tremendously.

How It All Blew Up follows Amir, eighteen-year-old Muslim who’s struggling to come out to his family. Faced with blackmail and feeling like he’s completely losing control over his life, Amir catches a plane and runs away to Rome. Amir is such a relatable character – even if I come from a completely different country and culture – and equally honest and raw one. He makes mistakes, he panics, he jumps into conclusions and overreacts. He is flawed and real, and sometimes you want to roll eyes on him, but ultimately, he’s a teenager faced with extremely stressful circumstances.

We meet Amir and his family as they are interrogated at the airport following the argument on the plane while coming back from Rome. The main story that follows is interrupted by fragments from the interviews with each member of the family. While it works as a tool that dramatics the current situation and also breaks the story in fragments, it also highlights the racial and religious tension present in the United States. They have been picked and interrogated because they had an argument, but rather because of what they represent. And while racism and islamophobia are not the forefront element of the story, its something that features greatly in How It All Blew Up, and affects each member of Amir’s family, making Arwin Ahmadi’s book extremely important.

I really loved Amir’s little sister, who loved him unconditionally and was very active in the search for her brother after his disappearance. But while his parents have visibly struggled with the news, you could also see that more than anything they loved Amir and there was no question in it.

While there have been a few moments where the story didn’t feel completely believable, on the whole, I really loved Arwin Ahmadi’s book. It’s such an authentic account, and the book makes you laugh and cry, often at the same time. 

Who is the book for: Arwin Ahmadi’s How It All Blew Up is for anyone enjoying YA contemporary fiction, with a strong lead and past-paced action. It’s a book for anyone looking for an authentic (though very adventurous!) coming out story. You can get your copy here.

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