Amir Azadi thinks his teenage life is hard enough just being the new kid in school and being the only Iranian. Of course he has to deal with bullying such as being called Amir Bin Laden, but his toughest challenge is being gay. He simply can not bring himself to come out to his parents. So when various colleges don't accept him and he realizes he can't simply look forward to escaping to a college campus to be who he wants to be, he skips the graduation ceremony and runs away. To Rome.
What follows is a series of adventures from his first taste of alcohol to various relationships. To gain the acceptance of the other gay young men he meets, he fabricates a story about his parents kicking him out because he is gay. In actuality, his family is frantically trying to locate him and convince him to come home.
The story is told in a series of short chapters, and those in interrogation rooms with airport police are alternating first-person point of view from Amir's sister and parents. This story is realistic in that Amir does not find immediate joy in Rome; there are some difficult emotions. The title seems to capture this situation.The message is the need to accept who you are and be brave enough to go forward with how you want to live your life.
I very much appreciate the complimentary copy from BookishFirst because when I read the preview pages, the book sounded extremely interesting. Although the author touches upon some heartbreak and mistakes in Amir's month in Rome, the actual book was a little disappointing. Amir was so unsure of himself at home that I questioned his ability to travel alone to Italy and immediately become a viable part of the local gay community without any advance planning. I felt that Amir's character and relationships/friendhsip in Rome needed additional pages of development.