Hilarious and heart-wrenching story based on true events

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Amir, a gay 18 year old high school senior, is bullied and blackmailed by a classmate who threatens to out him to his conservative Iranian parents unless he pays him thousands of dollars. Panicking, Amir decides to run away and spontaneously picks a flight to Rome. There he finds a quirky, lovable group of older LGBTQ friends who immediately take him in. Over a month in Rome, Amir learns to love himself and be comfortable in his own skin. Ultimately, his new friends are contacted by his family, who are looking for him, which results in them coming to Italy to track him down and having a loud argument on the flight home to the US, landing them in separate interrogation rooms. We are told the story from the beginning from the perspective of each of them sitting in the interrogation and telling the story to the agent.

I loved a lot of things about this book. While the teenage Amir seems to make terrible decisions, we have to remember that he's a teenager and this is a YA book, so it's actually incredibly realistic. And this plot may sound incredible, but it's based on true events/the author's own life! I loved the interplay of tension and fear on Amir's part with the humor and joy he finds in the group of friends in Italy. I love that this group of friends is not idealized; the curtain is drawn back at a certain point and we learn that they are not as perfect as they seem. My only complaint is that the climax of this story was a bit too short and wrapped up too quickly, but overall I really enjoyed this book and will recommend it!