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How It All Blew Up
Cover of How It All Blew Up
How It All Blew Up
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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...
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...
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Description-

  • 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 US 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.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover

    Interrogation Room 37

    Amir

    First, let me get one thing straight: I'm not a terrorist. I'm gay. I can see from the look on your face that you're skeptical, and I get it. People like me aren't supposed to exist, let alone make an admission like that in a situation like this. But I assure you, I'm real. I'm here. I'm Iranian. And I'm gay. I just needed to get that off my chest before we started, since you asked why my family and I were fighting on that plane. It had nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with me.

    Okay, I'll assume from the way you're clearing your throat that I should probably stick to the questions. Sorry, sir. I didn't mean to be disrespectful.

    My name is Amir Azadi. I'm eighteen years old.

    I was in Rome for about a month. Yes, like Italy. I don't know exactly how many days I was there.

    I lived in multiple apartments in Rome. I can get you the addresses if you'd like. My family found me in the Italian countryside yesterday. I willingly went back with them. I can't really say why—it happened so fast—and then we fought on the plane, which is, I guess, why I'm in here.

    It was such a huge whirlwind of emotions that I didn't even notice when the flight attendants started pulling the four of us apart. They put us in separate parts of the plane. One of them was actually really kind to me. "Family can take a while," he said as he buckled me into a pull-down seat in the aircraft kitchen. He had an earring in his nose. Slick blond hair. "Trust me, kid, we've all been there." He even let me have one of those snack packs with the hummus and pita chips, which was nice, considering I was being detained.

    As soon as we landed, Customs and Border Protection took our passports and escorted us from the plane to a holding room in the airport. Soraya—my little sister—kept asking what was going on, and my mom kept telling her to be quiet.

    They told us to sit and wait until our names were called. We were glued to those chairs. Soraya took out her phone and one of the officers barked at her to turn it off. My mom snatched it from her hand. After what felt like forever, one of the male officers entered the room and looked sternly at my dad. "Mr. Azadi. Please come with me." My dad didn't ask any questions. He just went. Then a minute later, I got pulled into this room.

    Was I in touch with any "organizations" while I was in Rome? Oh God. You must think I ran away to join ISIS, don't you? You probably think they recruited me to their Italian satellite office. Sir, I don't mean to belittle the evils of the world, but those guys would never take a fruit like me.

    I'm sorry we scared all those people on that plane, I really am. I wish I hadn't exploded at my parents like that, all spit and tears and hysteria, on an airplane. Especially being, you know. Of a certain complexion. But at the end of the day, I'd much rather be in this airport interrogation room than back in the closet.

    You asked me why we were fighting, sir, and to answer that question, I'll have to start at the very beginning.

    Ten Months Ago

    It was the first day of school, and I was already sweating in my seat. As if it wasn't torture enough to sit through transfer orientation, the classroom was as hot as an oven. Figures I move farther south of the Mason-Dixon line and the air conditioner decides to crap out.

    The senior class president was fanning himself with a manila folder in the front of the classroom. He was about to introduce us to our "buddies"—student government...

About the Author-

  • Arvin Ahmadi grew up outside Washington, DC. He graduated from Columbia University and has worked in the tech industry. When he's not reading or writing books, he can be found watching late-night talk show interviews and editing Wikipedia pages. Down and Across is his first novel, followed by Girl Gone Viral.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    October 19, 2020
    To avoid being outed as gay to his conservative Muslim parents, Iranian American Amir Azadi, 18, skips his high school graduation and impulsively flees to Rome, embarking on a month of parties, poetry, and dreamy crushes. Once in Italy, Amir befriends a close-knit group of young gay men, including effervescent Jahan, an Iranian-Dominican poet who helps Amir envision how he can proudly live as his whole self. Eventually, Amir must return to America, and after a family argument about Amir’s sexuality escalates on the plane, the visibly Muslim Azadi family is temporarily detained. Amir’s first-person narrative is framed by transcripts of each family member’s interrogation at the airport, enabling Ahmadi (Girl Gone Viral) to switch perspectives and expand the novel’s emotional landscape. This moving and well-written coming-of-age novel renders how Amir’s acceptance of his sexuality strengthens his resolve to reconcile his fragmented self and live in his full truth. Ages 14–up.

  • AudioFile Magazine Vikas Adam leads a talented cast in telling the fast-moving story of 18-year-old Amir. Adam portrays the tormented high school senior, who is being blackmailed by a bully threatening to out him as gay at graduation. Adam makes Amir's fear and his flight to New York and then Rome fully believable. In Rome, listeners witness his initial awkwardness as he meets Jahan, a proudly gay Iranian-Dominican, and his friends. As Amir becomes increasingly comfortable with gay relationships, he transforms into a self-confident young man who refuses to hide his secret any longer. The main storyline is interrupted by vignettes of Amir, his parents, and his sister as they are being questioned at an airport. Each family member is fully realized and adds to a fuller picture of Amir. S.W. � AudioFile 2020, Portland, Maine

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