Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi

Down and Across

Arvin Ahmadi

Down and Across is a thrilling game-changer that touches on the universal journey of self-discovery with a deft hand and riotous humor.” —Adam Silvera, New York Times bestselling author of More Happy Than Not

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"Quirky and charming, wise and unpredictable." —Khaled Hosseini, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Kite Runner 

Scott Ferdowsi has a track record of quitting. His best friends know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives, but Scott can hardly commit to a breakfast cereal, let alone a passion. With college applications looming and his parents pushing him to settle on a “practical” career, Scott sneaks off to Washington, DC, seeking guidance from a famous psychologist who claims to know the secret to success.
He never expects an adventure to unfold. But that’s what Scott gets when he meets Fiora Buchanan, a ballsy college student whose life ambition is to write crossword puzzles. When the bicycle she lends him gets Scott into a high-speed chase, he knows he’s in for the ride of his life.
Soon, Scott finds himself sneaking into bars, attempting to pick up girls at the National Zoo, and even giving the crossword thing a try—all while opening his eyes to fundamental truths about who he is and who he wants to be.

Advance Galley Reviews

3.5 stars Saaket "Scott" Ferdowsi isn't sure what he wants to do with his life. His Iranian-American parents want him to do a summer internship which will set him on the path to a practical and stable career later in life. With his parents out the country for a month, Scott makes the decision to go to the nation's capital to get advice from a college professor who claims to know the secret of success. There he meets an interesting cast of characters including a girl with a love for crossword puzzles. One crazy adventure after another just might lead Scott into finally figuring out just what he wants in life. I liked the theme of this book, a teenage boy frustrated at not having it all figured out yet. While I personally would not have gone to all of the extremes he did in order to find out answers, I had to admire his tenacity. This book kinda straddled the line between quirky and annoying but for the most part it was an enjoyable read. I wasn't the biggest fan of Fiora but did feel she served a good purpose to the story. Would recommend to those looking for a young adult novel that is a little bit fun and has some depth. Thank you to First to Read for the opportunity to read an advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The story is infused with crossword puzzle themes alluding to life as the ultimate puzzle. The main characters are engaging and quirky. I often tire of young adult stories with predictable angst and relationship challenges, but these characters are fresh and interesting to follow. The causal writing style kept me interested in the plights of Scott and Fiora. Scott delves into a study of "grit," while struggling with his own lack of ability to succeed. Fiora is a "cruciverbalist," determined to unravel her family history and dramas through constructing crosswords. Their paths collide in an amusing and unpredictable way, which develops into a delightful plot of discovery. I am not a crossword enthusiast, and this book made me wonder what I might be missing. I look forward to reading more of Ahmadi's works. .

When a book is blurbed by Adam Silvera, the man behind the spectacular, rip-your-heart-out They Both Die at the End, you know it's going to be, wait, I take that back...not just good excellent. As it turns out, Down and Across is indeed excellent. It's the kind of book that reminds me just how wonderful contemporary YA can be. Down and Across is smart, quirky, and incredibly charming. Down and Across introduces us to Scott Ferdowsi. Scott can't seem to follow through on anything - music, writing, internships, etc. He's the ultimate quitter much to his father's dismay. Scott is the character for anyone who seem to never measure up to their parent's wishes, who can't seem to find their "thing" in life no matter how hard they try. This is what makes Scott so incredibly relatable and likable, in my opinion. It's been a while since I've been in high school, but I can remember so clearly not having any idea of what I wanted to do, changing my mind everyday just as Scott does in this book. Therefore, seeing his journey in this book struck a chord in me - I could easily slip into his shoes and understand what he was feeling. It's also important to add that Scott isn't lazy - he's more ambitious than he thinks, especially when it comes to his journey on finding his "grit." I'm a strong believer on how one experience, or summer in this case, can change everything, and that's exactly what happens here. Scott finds his purpose and owns it. Besides Scott, Down and Across offers up such a wonderful cast of characters. Fiora, for instance, is wild and reckless. I've never seen someone love cross words as much as she does. Additionally, I enjoyed seeing the role she plays in Scott's summer. She inspires him to do crazy things - some of which he most certainly shouldn't do - but she makes him more well rounded because of it, someone who'd rather go on adventure than sit around. More importantly, I appreciated that Fiora wasn't perfect. She dealt with her own setbacks in this book, some of which broke my heart, but at the end of the day, she's just someone who won't let the bad get her down - she's just on to her next adventure. I also came to love Rick, Fiora's best friend and Scott's constant savior. Rick's view on politics was heartwarming, and I loved seeing him hone his passions in this. This boy definitely do what his "grit" was! At its core, Down and Across is a coming-of-age: Scott goes to Washington, DC on a whim and finds himself. First of all, I LOVED the DC setting. DC is a city that will always have my heart, and I loved that Arvin included so many real restaurants/venues within Down and Across's pages! Additionally, I loved the crossword application to life. It truly was the perfect metaphor, and better yet, I loved that actual crosswords were included in the book. I also enjoyed how this book shows the ups and downs to growing up. Scott experiences the good and bad in DC. He makes life long friends, finds his "grit," learns to live on his own, but he also experiences hate, a bad relationship, and the consequences of lying. It made for an interesting and heartwarming read. Also, the epilogue? I don't think I've ever been happier with an epilogue! I loved how everything ended - it was the perfect mix of closure and openness. So in summary: Buy (or borrow!) Down and Across. Read it. And (hopefully!) love it. Arvin is a fantastic new voice in YA. I'll be the first in line to buy his second book!

I enjoyed reading this fun and quirky young adult novel. As Scott embarks on his summer quest to become gritty and discover his passion, he learns about himself and his place in the world. Becoming a young adult and deciding what to do when you grow up is challenging and stressful, especially when your parents have certain expectations. As Scott's summer adventure unfolds, the reader watches him mature and become more independent. The development process of a crossword puzzle was perfect for the book and demonstrating how all the pieces fit together, in puzzles and in life. All in all, this was a great quick read!


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