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.
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.