“How It All Blew Up” – Arvin Ahmadi

This book was an emotional rollercoaster to say the least. Coming from a Muslim family, Amir knew he wouldn’t be accepted, and after being threatened with blackmail of him kissing another guy, he ran away overseas to Rome, where he ends up meeting a bunch of guys like him, all different members of the LGBTQ+ community. As he gets to know these friends, he finds himself able to express himself and his sexuality more, and gets involved in a couple of flings with them, until his fantasy in Rome is taken away by his family finding his apartment and getting him home, which leads to a explosive fight on plane home, which leaves us at where the story starts, the interrogation rooms of his family members explaining the fight and Amir going missing to begin with. It does a good job of explaining two perspectives: How he was affected by him running away and how his family was affected. The story is told both from what is happening in the interrogation rooms for all of his family members, and at the same time, is talking about what Amir is doing in Rome. It’s heart-wrenching to hear his sister talk about how she wishes he was open with her, accepting him with open arms, while his parents are struggling between missing their son and accepting his true nature. It’s a really good story to reflect the struggles of growing up in an immigrant home that might not be exactly “caught up” with the times, and especially with a religion getting in the way. The representation of different backgrounds is refreshing, and the way the author is able to build the story up to the fight on the plane is so nerve-wracking, but when the book finally concludes, it’s almost a wash of relief that nothing is a secret anymore. Highly recommend it if you’re looking for a book with a good amount of humor yet is able to bring tears once we truly understand Amir’s character.

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