Down and Across
Scott Ferdowsi has a track record of quitting. Writing the Great American Novel? Three chapters. His summer internship? One week. 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, Scott's parents pressure him to get serious and settle on a career path like engineering or medicine. Desperate for help, he sneaks off to Washington, DC, to seek guidance from a famous professor who specializes in grit, the psychology of success.He never expects an adventure to unfold out of what was supposed to be a one-day visit. 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.

Down and Across Details

TitleDown and Across
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 6th, 2018
PublisherViking Books for Young Readers
ISBN-139780425289877
Rating
GenreYoung Adult, Contemporary, Fiction

Down and Across Review

  • Adam Silvera
    January 1, 1970
    Official blurb: "Arvin Ahmadi's voice will be a dynamic entry into YA literature. DOWN AND ACROSS is a thrilling game-changer that touches on the universal journey of self-discovery with a deft hand and riotous humor." I really love this spirited story of grit and self-discovery where failures are respected as a part of life. And the main character Scott is a total charmer and the DC cast of characters all struck me with either wonder or adoration (and in one case, TOTAL LOATHING, omg, THIS CHAR Official blurb: "Arvin Ahmadi's voice will be a dynamic entry into YA literature. DOWN AND ACROSS is a thrilling game-changer that touches on the universal journey of self-discovery with a deft hand and riotous humor." I really love this spirited story of grit and self-discovery where failures are respected as a part of life. And the main character Scott is a total charmer and the DC cast of characters all struck me with either wonder or adoration (and in one case, TOTAL LOATHING, omg, THIS CHARACTER was THE WORST and you'll know who it was). Hope you check out this wonderful debut!
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  • YA Wednesdays
    January 1, 1970
    An outstanding debut novel. Can't wait to gush about it next week on First Reads Friday.
  • Rachel Strolle
    January 1, 1970
    Across1. Amazing3. Wonderful4. I loved itDown2. Yes5. You should read it6. Thanks for asking
  • Lauren
    January 1, 1970
    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 good...no, 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 - musi 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 good...no, 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 he kicks a$$. 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 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 (and come back and tell me!). Arvin is a fantastic new voice in YA. I'll be the first in line to buy his second book! Grade: A+
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  • Marie
    January 1, 1970
    "Down and Across was a great coming of age story I'd recommend to everyone, really. Charming, witty and really fun to read, this is also a journey about trying to find yourself and why it's okay if it takes time. If it's a work in progress, because after all, we are never entirely finished here. Arvin Ahmadi is definitely a new voice in the YA industry that I will follow for a while because, if that's his debut, then the rest of the stories he has to tell promises to be really, really good."Full "Down and Across was a great coming of age story I'd recommend to everyone, really. Charming, witty and really fun to read, this is also a journey about trying to find yourself and why it's okay if it takes time. If it's a work in progress, because after all, we are never entirely finished here. Arvin Ahmadi is definitely a new voice in the YA industry that I will follow for a while because, if that's his debut, then the rest of the stories he has to tell promises to be really, really good."Full review coming soon on the blog :)
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    I loved this book so stupid much. The characters are all so well-developed and the main character's struggle to find his future path is something all teenagers (and many adults) will relate to. Extremely necessary and timely and also laugh out loud funny.
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  • Kim at Divergent Gryffindor
    January 1, 1970
    Scott has a hard time with sticking to his decisions. He starts things, such as his internship, but doesn't see those things through to the end. When his parents leave to go to Iran to look after his ill grandfather, Scott decides that instead of going to his internship, he's going to find Cecily Mallard, the great psychology professor who specialized on grit, the psychology of success. There, he meets Fiora, crossword enthusiast, and Trent, political aspirant. These two help him in his journey Scott has a hard time with sticking to his decisions. He starts things, such as his internship, but doesn't see those things through to the end. When his parents leave to go to Iran to look after his ill grandfather, Scott decides that instead of going to his internship, he's going to find Cecily Mallard, the great psychology professor who specialized on grit, the psychology of success. There, he meets Fiora, crossword enthusiast, and Trent, political aspirant. These two help him in his journey towards getting grittier, as well as getting more experiences in life in general. Down and Across was blurbed by some of my favorite authors - Jasmine Warga and Adam Silvera - so I had high hopes from this one. I'm glad to say that despite the high standards I've set on this book before even reading it, that it did not disappoint. Not by one bit. I connected with Scott so much because I related to him in so many ways. Born of Chinese immigrant parents, my parents are also strict and want me to focus on studies. They often forbid me to go out by myself, and growing up, I felt like I was missing so much because of it. I also felt street-stupid (the opposite of street-smart? Haha!) because of staying at home so much. In the last two years of high school, much like Scott, I had no direction in life. I didn't know what I wanted to take up after high school, while most of my friends already knew where they were headed. Because of these factors, I became all the more invested in Scott's story - how he would learn and redeem himself throughout the 300 or so pages of the book.This book showed me that self-discovery and growth happens at all ages, and with people from all walks of life, may they be students or professionals. One of my favorite scenes in this novel was how Professor Mallard broke down, and how Scott actually motivated her once more after her father's death. It showed that even one breaks down at times, but it's in how we pick ourselves up once more that shows true grit. This book also showed me that with the right push, people can get on their way once more and find themselves.The journey, growth, and self-discovery of Scott in this novel made him into a very dynamic character that grew to be one filled with potential. He learned so many things throughout this novel, and I'm so proud of him because he learned all these by experiencing various ups and downs in the novel. I'm so proud of him for finally figuring his life out, and for standing up to his beliefs. Most of all, I love this novel because it made Scott feel like a real person I know, so much so that I feel nothing but pride for him. Down and Across surprised me with how much I liked it, and I can't wait for the rest of the world to read it! It's this amazing story that I'm sure people of all ages could relate to, because everyone gets lost from time to time, right?
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  • Sam Kozbial
    January 1, 1970
    Rating: 4.5 StarsI love a good coming of age story, and with Down and Across I got a GREAT coming of age story.•Pro: Scott was fab-u-los! I couldn't get enough of him and his musings. Being in his head was a total treat too. Loved him! •Pro: The side characters in this book were very well crafted. From the major to the minor players, each character had something that made you give them your attention. •Pro: I loved the whole "grit" concept, and thought the short profiles on people, who Scott con Rating: 4.5 StarsI love a good coming of age story, and with Down and Across I got a GREAT coming of age story.•Pro: Scott was fab-u-los! I couldn't get enough of him and his musings. Being in his head was a total treat too. Loved him! •Pro: The side characters in this book were very well crafted. From the major to the minor players, each character had something that made you give them your attention. •Pro: I loved the whole "grit" concept, and thought the short profiles on people, who Scott considered "gritty" were so awesome. Some of the historical figures I knew a lot about, but there were others I didn't, and I was grateful to learn their stories. •Pro: I really appreciated that Ahmadi included people with all different viewpoints. There was the far right, the far left, and somewhere in-between. Lots of ideas were exchanged, and the reader is left with many things to consider. •Pro: I really like when the protagonist's cultural background plays a role in the story. Scott was first generation American, and was trying to figure out how his heritage fit into his life. I really enjoyed all the little bits about his family and their background that he shared with us. •Pro: One of Scott's biggest struggles was with his parents. He felt like they were too overprotective and that he could never live up to their standards. During his time in DC his appreciation of his parents grows and changes as he grew and changed. It was quite lovely the way Ahmadi worked this storyline. •Pro: I think so many young adults will relate to Scott. Those later years of high school can be quite a crossroads for many. As graduation looms, some decision need to be made that may affect one's future, and that struggle was explored so well in this book. •Pro: Right now I am standing and applauding the author on that stupendous ending. That's how it's done folks. I am a closure-ho, and Ahmadi gave me answers, which left me in a state of elation. Overall: This was such a wonderful coming of age story! I so enjoyed being in DC with Saaket/Scott as he searched for his "grit", and I will forever sing the praises of endings like the one Ahmadi gifted us with. I smiled so hard, tears fell out of my eyes. I will absolutely be on the look out for more books from this author.*ARC received in exchange for an honest review BLOG | INSTAGRAM | BLOGLOVIN | FRIEND ME ON GOODREADS
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  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    I was drawn to this book for two main reasons. First, it's about a boy who comes to DC, not knowing anyone, and ends up learning more about himself than he ever expected. I too came to DC as a stranger and learned a lot about myself in 2008. Circumstances were very different - I was an adult and had a job and apartment lined up. But I have great memories of discovering DC for the first time and enjoyed seeing the city through the eyes of the main character, Saaket. The second reason was much sim I was drawn to this book for two main reasons. First, it's about a boy who comes to DC, not knowing anyone, and ends up learning more about himself than he ever expected. I too came to DC as a stranger and learned a lot about myself in 2008. Circumstances were very different - I was an adult and had a job and apartment lined up. But I have great memories of discovering DC for the first time and enjoyed seeing the city through the eyes of the main character, Saaket. The second reason was much simpler - I'm a word nerd. The crossword puzzle theme was so much fun for me. Sometimes I struggle with YA books because I fit more into the category of "mature audience" than "young adult" and when I don't connect with the book I question if it's because I'm not the intended audience. Down and Across had a few moments where I didn't entirely buy the premise, but it didn't distract me from the book, which was a nice story. I'm sure that I would have loved it even more as a teenager. This book takes place in Washington, DC, and naturally the characters talk about politics, which can be a touchy subject these days. I'm saddened by how divisive the political climate is in the U.S. and it always seems to get worse with every new administration. For that reason I appreciate that the conflicting political views represented by the characters weren't the typical Republican vs. Democrat, but more of a conservative vs. libertarian difference of opinions. There are some stereotypical characters when it comes to political beliefs, but most people are more nuanced, as I think most of the U.S. is, and I think that's part of the charm of this book and goes back to the crossword puzzle theme - so often we try to put people in boxes to represent their world view - political beliefs, religion, sexual orientation, race, economic advantages & disadvantages, these things are not all black and white crossword-puzzle-type boxes when describing most people and to see the world that way dismisses some of the best parts of human nature. We are much more complicated than that. I like the outside-the-box thinking of this book that focuses so much on crossword puzzles.Okay, so it's not a perfect book. The kid basically ran away from home when his parents did a 180 from being controlling helicopter parents, to skipping town and leaving him on his own with a handful of cash. Running away from home may come across a bit romanticized for an impressionable young reader and it's an unlikely series of events in real life, but this isn't real life - it was fiction. And it was pretty entertaining in my opinion. Thank you to Penguin's First to read program for providing me with an advance copy for review.
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  • Shelumiel Delos Santos
    January 1, 1970
    SMART, FUNNY and EXCEEDINGLY RELATABLE. My reading experience with this debut reminded me of those lines from Lorde’s latest album: “You asked if I was feeling it, I’m psycho high / Know you won’t remember in the morning when I speak my mind / Lights are on and they’ve gone home, but who am I?” Only Lorde will take her hangover as an opportunity for existential reflection. And she does this with such eloquence. Just as how Ahmadi takes up a conversational tone and somehow manages to drive home a ‪SMART, FUNNY and EXCEEDINGLY RELATABLE. ‬My reading experience with this debut reminded me of those lines from Lorde’s latest album: “You asked if I was feeling it, I’m psycho high / Know you won’t remember in the morning when I speak my mind / Lights are on and they’ve gone home, but who am I?” Only Lorde will take her hangover as an opportunity for existential reflection. And she does this with such eloquence. Just as how Ahmadi takes up a conversational tone and somehow manages to drive home and CAPTURE ARTICULATELY the anxieties of growing up and not knowing what it is you want. The way he commands his words, his every clever turn of phrase, Ahmadi has a PINPOINT-SHARP AWARENESS OF VOICE. DOWN AND ACROSS is not a page-turner. It might not even be something you have not seen before. But it gets me. And I’m almost positive it gets you, too. So, go do yourself a favor and pre-order it now. Thank me in February.Full review to follow closer to release date.
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  • Emma Stein
    January 1, 1970
    Can't wait to read the final version, but this book is a must read for anyone hankering for a growing-up/adventure story with...crossword puzzles. Trust me on this one. You'll be remiss if you miss.
  • Adriana
    January 1, 1970
    The story of directionless, young Saaket/Scott won me over with and interesting plot and incredibly engaging characters. Scott is every 16 year old being forced to decide their future before they truly know themselves. Scott's (dangerous) adventure of discovery as he travels to find the one person he believes can help him decide his path is full of well-rounded characters and thought-provoking moments. My one demerit is that I really dislike the "manic pixie girl" trope and the plot depends grea The story of directionless, young Saaket/Scott won me over with and interesting plot and incredibly engaging characters. Scott is every 16 year old being forced to decide their future before they truly know themselves. Scott's (dangerous) adventure of discovery as he travels to find the one person he believes can help him decide his path is full of well-rounded characters and thought-provoking moments. My one demerit is that I really dislike the "manic pixie girl" trope and the plot depends greatly on it. It's a minor annoyance in the wider scheme of the greatness of the book, but a thing that happens too often in books. I'd love to see authors solve things without resorting to the girl who throws the protagonist into a tailspin.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Down and Across is your classic coming of age story. I loved the protagonist Scott (Saaket), who is trying to figure out what he wants from life.This book reminded me of Mosquitoland in some ways: the adventure is about the journey. What I think this book struggled with was weaving in the big moments with the small. There's a build-up to some Changes with a capital C for Scott, but the path to get there was slow and mundane at times. I wanted to truly love and root for him, Trent and Fiora, but Down and Across is your classic coming of age story. I loved the protagonist Scott (Saaket), who is trying to figure out what he wants from life.This book reminded me of Mosquitoland in some ways: the adventure is about the journey. What I think this book struggled with was weaving in the big moments with the small. There's a build-up to some Changes with a capital C for Scott, but the path to get there was slow and mundane at times. I wanted to truly love and root for him, Trent and Fiora, but I felt like I got little bites instead of true taste of their personalities. This book is good for fans of John Green and David Arnold. I'll be watching this author's career for sure.
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  • Katherine Paschal
    January 1, 1970
    I found this to be a really cute fast read. I enjoy character driven contemporary reads and Scott was such a quirky, interesting kid that I could not help but to love- and that's not even mentioning the random people he meets on his spontaneous journey, all so different but necessary. He tried to find his purpose and goals, as well as himself and somehow keep who he was culturally. I have not read very many YA books with male main characters or too many YA books written by male authors to be com I found this to be a really cute fast read. I enjoy character driven contemporary reads and Scott was such a quirky, interesting kid that I could not help but to love- and that's not even mentioning the random people he meets on his spontaneous journey, all so different but necessary. He tried to find his purpose and goals, as well as himself and somehow keep who he was culturally. I have not read very many YA books with male main characters or too many YA books written by male authors to be completely honest, and I can say I was 100% happy with what I received here. I completely connected with Scott regardless of our different backgrounds, I rooted him on and experienced his triumphs and heartaches right along with him. I highly recommend this coming of age story for anyone, regardless of age or gender, and I look forward to whatever Arvin wants to write.
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  • Bianca (The Ultimate Fangirl)
    January 1, 1970
    How should I put it? How do I talk about this book without sounding biased, even if it is just a temporary review?Saaket Ferdowsi spoke to me. His story gave me chills, because I was just as lost as he was. My mind cannot form coherent sentences on how much I can relate to him despite a majority of dissimilarities. Arvin Ahmadi has made a novel now close to my heart, and I cannot wait for other teens like Scott and I to read this book so we can be gritty together.Obvious rating: 5/5 stars.
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  • Alexis Jackson
    January 1, 1970
    I think Arvin Ahmadi, as a writer and author, definitely has something to bring to the market, but I was hoping for something more than this.The story is charming, believable, and spontaneous in that new-age way, but it just didn't do anything for me. I didn't feel entirely connected to any of the characters and it was all a bit too whimsical for me.
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  • April
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 Stars
  • Just Reading Everything
    January 1, 1970
    DOWN AND ACROSS is heartwarming and humorous contemporary YA that gives readers a realistic look at self-discovery and identity. Scott, Fiora, and Trent felt like friends, and Ahmadi does an excellent job creating the crippling pressure Scott's parents have placed upon him. After his parents are pulled overseas for a family emergency, Scott ditches the internship his father set up for him and instead takes a bus to Washington DC, determined to find Professor Mallard and figure out how to "get gr DOWN AND ACROSS is heartwarming and humorous contemporary YA that gives readers a realistic look at self-discovery and identity. Scott, Fiora, and Trent felt like friends, and Ahmadi does an excellent job creating the crippling pressure Scott's parents have placed upon him. After his parents are pulled overseas for a family emergency, Scott ditches the internship his father set up for him and instead takes a bus to Washington DC, determined to find Professor Mallard and figure out how to "get gritty"—AKA stick out one thing in hopes of achieving accomplishment. Ahmadi writes with head and heart, captivating readers with passages that leap beautifully from the pages. Definitely keep an eye out for this one when it releases in January.
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  • Duncan Young
    January 1, 1970
    The best book, by far.
  • Kayla
    January 1, 1970
    Would anyone like for me to send them a copy of this ARC? I think we're allowed to do that right? You'll need Adobe Digital Editions (it's free) to read it.Thank you to Penguin Random House for providing me an ARC of this book through their First to Read program, in exchange for my honest review. I saw this book was blurbed by Adam Silvera and I requested an ARC. I really wanted a different book, but I'm glad to have this one all the same. :)
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  • Aditi ~ •A Thousand Words A Million Books
    January 1, 1970
    AS SEEN ON: A THOUSAND WORDS A MILLION BOOKS I received a review copy from Penguin Random House International in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. Arvin Ahmadi’s debut novel is one of those book that you INSTANTLY feel intrigued by. An Iranian American boy on the search for grit, leaves home and finds himself on an epic adventure and, also, there were also crosswords involved? YES, THANK YOU!Can we also talk about what an ABSOLUTELY LOVELY COVER Down AS SEEN ON: A THOUSAND WORDS A MILLION BOOKS I received a review copy from Penguin Random House International in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own. Arvin Ahmadi’s debut novel is one of those book that you INSTANTLY feel intrigued by. An Iranian American boy on the search for grit, leaves home and finds himself on an epic adventure and, also, there were also crosswords involved? YES, THANK YOU!Can we also talk about what an ABSOLUTELY LOVELY COVER Down and Across has because AAH. It so simple and understated and also incorporated a map of DC where the book is set as well as the crossword theme of the book. BEAUTIFUL. Let’s break this down: 1. Down and Across is a BEAUTIFUL coming of age novel. The main character is a sixteen year old Iranian American, Scott Ferdowsi, who fears that his inability to commit will be his downfall. So he leaves home and an internship filled with rat poop to go to Washington DC and meet a professor who specialises in Grit. 2. I LOVED the way this book was structured. There was a whimsical way by which Scott survived in DC, from day to day and week to week in the hostel, went after what he wanted from the professor and I LOVED Trent, his gay aspiring politician friend and his PURE HEART.3. Arvin Ahmadi really takes you into the mind of a sixteen year old teenage boy and he accurately captures the anxieties of growing up and not knowing what it is you want out of life. It was a sharp, honest take on life and the future and finding yourself and EXACTLY what I needed in the moment.4. My feelings about Fiora Buchanan are SO MUDDLED. She was a nice enough girl in the beginning and then her Manic Pixie Dream Girl side came out (and have I mentioned how MUCH I absolutely hate that trope?) and I wasn’t sure how I felt at all about her. She confused me, and I honestly feel like she could have been a better developed character. 5. Another thing I simply couldn’t shake was how BAD I felt for Scott’s parents and what a horrible son he was being. I’m Indian, with overbearing parents (who I love like there’s no tomorrow) so while I understood the PRESSURES that he felt, I also hated the way he treated them. I cannot stand lying to my parents about where I am and running away for a MONTH at SIXTEEN with no respect for his parents sort of spoilt my whole experience. I get why the storyline needed it, but it doesn’t have to mean that I liked it.6. There was also a Crossword at the end of the book based on happenings in the book for the reader to solve and I LOVED that Down and Across had this unique feature and I loved solving it.7. I loved the way the racist, bigot Jeanette was dealt with in this book. It gave me INTENSE pride when Scott/ Saaket told her off because her and people like her DESERVE it. Down and Across is quirky and charming, earnest, funny and INTENSELY relatable and a debut novel from a new voice in YA fiction to watch out for. 4 stars.
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  • just.one.more.paige
    January 1, 1970
    “Two steps forward, one back. Five forward, twelve back. Left, right, diagonal, down, across, and right back around to the block. We’re all just trying to keep moving. Sometimes we know where we’re going and sometimes we get lost. But as long as we move, we grow.”A few things drew me to this book. One, the adorable crossword puzzle cover. Two, the recommendation by Adam Silvera (I just recently read my first book by him and, though it wasn’t necessarily my favorite book ever, I respect the writi “Two steps forward, one back. Five forward, twelve back. Left, right, diagonal, down, across, and right back around to the block. We’re all just trying to keep moving. Sometimes we know where we’re going and sometimes we get lost. But as long as we move, we grow.”A few things drew me to this book. One, the adorable crossword puzzle cover. Two, the recommendation by Adam Silvera (I just recently read my first book by him and, though it wasn’t necessarily my favorite book ever, I respect the writing and story-crafting, look forward to reading another, and generally now respect his opinion). And lastly, it was one of the offers on First to Read – and I am definitely a sucker for a chance to read a book before everyone else. (Call me a nerd, it’s cool.) So yea, I entered to read it and was chosen to receive a copy. Alright!Scott Ferdowsi is your typical high school kid with overbearing parents – they want him to have a plan for the rest of his life (one that involves becoming something important and respectable, like a doctor or an engineer) like, right now. And Scott…well he’s your normal high school kid that doesn’t know what he wants out of life just yet. And is stressed out about it, hardcore. Especially since he has a tendency to quit when the going gets…less interesting. But when his parents go out of town for three weeks over the summer before his senior year (visiting family in Iran) and leave him behind to get experience at a summer research internship, Scott makes a crazy decision. He “runs away” from home to visit Washington D.C. and track down Professor Mallard, a researcher and academic known for work in “grit,” or that special persistence that allows people to be successful even after failure. He’s hoping she’ll help him find his own grit. Along the way though, he meets some new friends, Fiora, a cruciverbalist (crossword-puzzle maker) who just a little bit crazy (but in a good way…mostly), Trent, a bartender and aspiring politician, and Jeanette, a hyper-religious girl looking to experience a little life before settling down in her traditional family life. They each help him, in their own way, as he spends 3 weeks growing up and finding his grit.First, this book is adorable. Truly a heartwarming coming of age tale. Scott’s stressors are wonderfully poignant to young adult life – the struggle to find who you are, what you are good at, how to plan for the future and somehow translate that into a life is universal. And the fear that you won’t be able to (that comes from within) coupled with pressures from parents and society, is something that I, at least, identify with strongly. That lost feeling that Scott has, when you truly do not know what you want but wish that you did because it would make everyone, including yourself, happier…that’s written spot on here. Other than that, there is a fantastically representative range of young adult struggles and experiences, from each of the characters in their own turn, particularly regarding relationships with parents, that efficiently show how each person has their own issues that they must tackle and though they can be commiserated about, and the burdens shared, they should never be ordered or compared. It’s an important lesson for us all. I thought perhaps some things happened a bit too conveniently for Scott, throughout the novel. Meeting Fiora and Trent, the deal with the hostel and generally some of the other random connections with other characters; they seem, at times, to happen too easily to be realistic. However, if you are able to look past that initial unbelievability, the relationships that develop from those first meetings are just beautiful. Within the span of Scott’s time in D.C., he meets and creates real relationships with people, that have depth and nuance consistent with the story timeline and plot, but do not advance too far into the realm of unnecessary romance or unrealistic closeness. And the way the “end,” if you will, as Scott’s time in D.C. ends are true to the personalities of the characters and do not give into nostalgia or a need for “perfect endings.” I truly appreciate that reality and thought it gave the book an extra gravitas, despite the general heartwarming bildungsroman feel of the story. As a small note, I read this as an ebook ARC, so unfortunately, the illustrations related to the crossword puzzles came through in very strange formatting. I feel like I really lost out on one of the best parts of the book as result. I loved the way crossword puzzles were used to tie things together and “teach” lessons and it was too bad that the visuals were not completely there to support this facet of the book. I definitely plan to flip through it at the library/a bookstore once it’s published, in order to see what it’s supposed to look like! Also, random, has anyone seen the movie All About Steve, with Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper? Bullock’s character totally reminds me of Fiora (and not just because they are both cruciverbalists) – I kept picturing her every time I read her parts. If that gets stuck in your head now…I’m sorry. In any case, moving on… The dialogue was quick and genuine, which I loved. Scott’s coming of age happened with events that were only partially farfetched (as they must needs be, in order to make this book entertaining enough to keep reading), yet still, in the grand scheme of things, are small (both in the trajectory of the world and their effect on people other than Scott himself). I appreciated this aspect, in particular. I’ll be honest, I felt like things dragged a bit in the middle. Nothing was unreasonable about the pace, but for some reason, about halfway in, I lost momentum. However, I felt that it did pick back up towards the last quarter. Regardless, this was an incredibly sweet story that made me smile and cheer for Scott’s successes. This ARC was provided to me courtesy of First to Read and Viking Books in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Lee (Rally the Readers)
    January 1, 1970
    Also posted on Rally the Readers.I received an eARC via First to Read.4.5 StarsAs a longtime crossword geek, I was instantly sold on reading Down and Across because of the title alone. Fellow cruciverbalists will find plenty to love about this novel, starting with the assurance that the title isn’t a mere passing reference. Crossword puzzles figure prominently throughout the book, which even namechecks New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz. That alone won this book a special place in my he Also posted on Rally the Readers.I received an eARC via First to Read.4.5 StarsAs a longtime crossword geek, I was instantly sold on reading Down and Across because of the title alone. Fellow cruciverbalists will find plenty to love about this novel, starting with the assurance that the title isn’t a mere passing reference. Crossword puzzles figure prominently throughout the book, which even namechecks New York Times crossword editor Will Shortz. That alone won this book a special place in my heart.The plot of Down and Across centers around Scott Ferdowsi’s search for direction. He’s never been good at sticking with anything, and with high school graduation on the horizon, he doesn’t know where his future lies. Scott’s parents want him to go into medicine or engineering, but he knows these fields just aren’t for him. I could absolutely relate to Scott’s struggle to figure out what he wants to do in life; in fact, I can still relate, even as someone who’s still trying to work out this whole adulting thing.Scott’s narrative voice was easily my favorite aspect of the novel. He’s funny, snarky, self-deprecating, and most importantly, engaging. He’s the type of guy who you just want to see catch a break for once. Scott gets knocked down a few times in Down and Across, sometimes literally, but he never wallows in self-pity. He’s a finely crafted character, as is Fiora, the college student he meets on the bus to Washington, D.C., where she attends George Washington University. Fiora is a crossword fiend, skilled not only at solving but also at constructing. She’s also prone to moments of spontaneous boldness that Scott never would have dreamed of pulling off before meeting Fiora. Their budding friendship hits some bumps along the way and isn’t perfect—just like them. I can’t say enough about how realistic the book feels, from the dialogue to the problems the characters face to the elation one feels after solving a New York Times crossword puzzle.I rarely read contemporary, but I’m so glad that I gave Down and Across a shot. You don’t need to be a crossword fan to enjoy the book, either; Scott’s story is more than compelling enough on its own. The very clever way that the puzzles are woven into the novel, however, is sure to bring a smile to readers who also love the challenge that a blank puzzle grid poses.
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  • (a)lyss(a)
    January 1, 1970
    "He'd assert himself in all matters Fiora like he knew the girl better than she knew herself."I received a copy of this ebook from firsttoread.com in exchange for an honest review. Holy manic pixie dream girl batman! This is the kind of book that makes me wonder if I'm too old to enjoy YA. The premise is interesting - following Saaket "Scott" in his quest to develop grit but the execution didn't wow me. Scott quickly meets Fiora - the manic pixie girl of his dreams. Not only does she help him st "He'd assert himself in all matters Fiora like he knew the girl better than she knew herself."I received a copy of this ebook from firsttoread.com in exchange for an honest review. Holy manic pixie dream girl batman! This is the kind of book that makes me wonder if I'm too old to enjoy YA. The premise is interesting - following Saaket "Scott" in his quest to develop grit but the execution didn't wow me. Scott quickly meets Fiora - the manic pixie girl of his dreams. Not only does she help him stretch out his money in DC and spend it on things like underage drinking and picking up girls he's not actually interested in - she does it all for her own amusement because she's quirky! And of course she has a gay best friend, Trent, who knows Fiora better than she knows herself because she's just a girl from the South, and these characters only exist to help Scott find himself (but not really). Even Fiora's mental health is just a plot thrown in to make us feel for Scott and instead of some Looking for Alaska type revelation where Scott realizes Fiora is a real person who isn't confined to his perception of her we get her tragic backstory to give her flaws(!). Also it's really inconsistent when there are and aren't consequences for the actions of any characters in this story. I don't know what magical DC this book is based on where high school students can absolutely sneak into universities and talk famous researchers into taking them on for no money and everyone has money to burn on drinking every night but that's at least 65% of this book. That being said the crosswords included in the book were a nice touch and it's cool that the characters walk you through how to make your own. I was hoping for more substance that was disappointed. My understanding is the point of the book is (view spoiler)[the grit was in you all along! If you work hard and chase your passion you'll be fine! Also the story didn't really matter because Scott basically went home and moved on with his life with no consequences for lying to his parents or the person who he was actually supposed to intern for and writing like 3 emails to a professor made him seem like a really dedicated person instead of someone who keeps flaking on everything. (hide spoiler)] Which sort of left me wondering why that lesson couldn't have been shared in a less convoluted story.Maybe I'm just too old and disillusioned for YA but this one missed the mark for me.
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    Review based on ARC received at YallFest.First of all, despite my issues with novel, I have to say it's a great debut from Arvin Admadi. Down and Across is different and funny and definitely tugs on your heartstrings. Even as an adult, I could definitely relate to Scott, Fiora, and Trent. After all, even adults are still trying to figure out shit and that's what this novel is all about -- figuring out who we are and what role we hope to play in this world.Unfortunately, there were a couple of th Review based on ARC received at YallFest.First of all, despite my issues with novel, I have to say it's a great debut from Arvin Admadi. Down and Across is different and funny and definitely tugs on your heartstrings. Even as an adult, I could definitely relate to Scott, Fiora, and Trent. After all, even adults are still trying to figure out shit and that's what this novel is all about -- figuring out who we are and what role we hope to play in this world.Unfortunately, there were a couple of things that bothered me about this novel. First, being an adult, there was just no way I could get passed the fact that the novel is based on the idea that a 17-year-old's parents (who are described as 'overprotective') would ever, ever leave their child alone for a month. I sort of wished Ahmadi made Scott 18 or something -- just so I could make peace with the premise.Second, again adult here, the back of the book describes this as being recommended for 12 and up. I've got to say that I'm not sure I would recommend this novel to a middle schooler. It seems kind of heavy for a 12 year old and while I'm no prude (and love to curse), there is a lot of cursing in this book.Also, while I love a novel that is able to include pop-culture references, I have to wonder if the references will come off as dated in a few years -- West Wing, mansplain, Ron Paul, disposable camera (who even uses those anymore?). Side note -- as someone who lives in Charleston, I loved the CofC mention. (view spoiler)[ At one point Scott does one of his reports on Khaled Hosseini and that totally made me roll my eyes. I personally feel like you probably shouldn't mention the person who is quoted on the cover of your novel ("Quirky and charming, wise and unpredictable") or vice-versa. But that's 100% just me. (hide spoiler)]Finally, the last two chapters really left me touched. Like tears in my eyes. I've often said to people that failure is some times the very best thing that can happen to you. When I read the line, "Failure is inevitable. Productive, even" I was like YES! All in all, this is a great debut and I can definitely acknowledge that the issues I had with it were relatively minor. If you are looking for something a little different than the usual YA novel, I suggest picking this one up!
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book at an event for librarians. I was going to skip it because the premise starts with a teen who is trying to track down Professor Mallard, a researcher of grit, (aka Angela Duckworth). I really dislike Duckworth's grit hypothesis and the discussion around it. But then I heard the author speak, and he was really endearing, so I decided to read it, and I am glad I did. The grit discussion is only a minor part of the book, and a way to get the story go I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book at an event for librarians. I was going to skip it because the premise starts with a teen who is trying to track down Professor Mallard, a researcher of grit, (aka Angela Duckworth). I really dislike Duckworth's grit hypothesis and the discussion around it. But then I heard the author speak, and he was really endearing, so I decided to read it, and I am glad I did. The grit discussion is only a minor part of the book, and a way to get the story going, so I didn't have to spend much time annoyed. The main character, Scott/Saaket is a typical teen with a somewhat typical story, but the author put him in a situation that was different and more inventive than the typical YA book. There was the usual angst and exaggerated feelings in this YA book, but not too much. Most of the story was about Scott's fun adventures and the joy of meeting random people along the way in life. I liked how the characters all had side stories, but that's what they were, just side stories and not the whole of their personalities. Scott/Saaket's parents are from Iran, Fiora's parents are divorced and her mother was a drug addict, Trent is kicked out of his home because he is gay, Jeannette is a right-leaning Liberty University student. But none of these are the centerpiece of the story. The real story is how the characters interact and help each other (or sometimes not). This makes the book more light-hearted and a faster read than the usual YA "issue book." I don't know how realistic it is that overprotective parents would leave their 17 yo alone for several weeks while they are out of the country, but I can live with that since without that, there wouldn't be a book. My one question is - does the author (or perhaps his character) know any French people? At one point at the end of the book, Scott/Saaket comments that someone doesn't look French because he has a big nose. Look at my surname, then look at my nose, a typical French one. :-)
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  • Amber Garabrandt
    January 1, 1970
    Summary:Scott Ferdowsi is amazing at quitting- the tar, the great American novel…. just about every school club.  This summer, he has an internship that goes the way of the tar.  Something has clicked- Grit.  His dad talked about it before his parents left for Iran.  Is this really the key to success?  Where can he get some?  His friends have their futures mapped out- they have goals and plans.  Him… nada.  What’s a guy to do?  Run away of coarse!There’s a professor in DC that specializes in Gri Summary:Scott Ferdowsi is amazing at quitting- the tar, the great American novel…. just about every school club.  This summer, he has an internship that goes the way of the tar.  Something has clicked- Grit.  His dad talked about it before his parents left for Iran.  Is this really the key to success?  Where can he get some?  His friends have their futures mapped out- they have goals and plans.  Him… nada.  What’s a guy to do?  Run away of coarse!There’s a professor in DC that specializes in Grit.  Who better to teach him the basics?  His first real adventure kicks off meeting a beautiful stranger on the bus.  Ballsy and gorgeous Fiora Buchanan, crossword puzzle creator extraordinaire.  What was meant to be a one day trip snowballs into the craziest few weeks of his life.  Political bartenders, picking up chicks at the zoo, and learning the true meaning of not giving up.My thoughts:I loved this book.  It was fast paced and entertaining with great characters.  I felt for Scott even when I wanted to strangle him- let’s face it, some of the stuff he did was pretty dumb.  But that’s growing up right?  All his life his parents have been over protective, and his father has pushed for him to go into high profile, high paid jobs.  There’s a lot of stress there for a young man with zero clue what he really wants out of life.  All he knows is that he wants to know.  He wants to be passionate about something, so move forward.  That in and of itself interested me; the way he went about trying to find his passion- his grit.I will admit that the ending made me just a bit crazy.  It was too clean.  Just too easy, you know?  I felt a tiny bit let down.  For me this was a four and a half star book.  I loved it, but it wasn’t stellar.  On the adult content scale, there’s some language and alcohol.  It’s nothing major and I would let my niece read this one (actually, I am probably buying her this one).  I would give it a three.  I was lucky enough to get an eARC of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  My thanks.
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  • Jennifer
    January 1, 1970
    * Received advanced reader copy from publisher via Baker & Taylor book supplierScott just cannot stick with anything long term. Writing a novel? Stopped at two chapters. Working a summer internship? Lasted one week. Deciding what to do with his future? Yeah right … who can make that decision?! When Scott’s parents return to Iran to visit family and leave him at home alone, Scott decides to go to Washington, D.C. to meet the professor of one of the many articles Scott’s dad has read in an at * Received advanced reader copy from publisher via Baker & Taylor book supplierScott just cannot stick with anything long term. Writing a novel? Stopped at two chapters. Working a summer internship? Lasted one week. Deciding what to do with his future? Yeah right … who can make that decision?! When Scott’s parents return to Iran to visit family and leave him at home alone, Scott decides to go to Washington, D.C. to meet the professor of one of the many articles Scott’s dad has read in an attempt to get Scott to focus. Scott figures a professor who specializes in “grit” should be able to help him find his. Little does he know, the trip to DC will be one heck of a whirlwind when he meets don’t-think-too-far-ahead Fiora, and he’ll learn more in three weeks than he ever thought possible.A book blurbbed by Khaled Hosseini and Adam Silvera? Who says book blurbs don’t draw readers?! These authors’ stamp of approval definitely made this book creep its way to the top of my TBR a whole lot faster than it would have normally. And, thank you Mr. Hosseini and Mr. Silvera! What a delightful romp of fun. Scott, Fiora, Trent, and, yes, even annoying Jeanette were characters I loved getting to know. While Scott had amazing luck for a runaway (and a bit of expendable cash left by his parents to get him started), his journey of discovery was mesmerizing. Professor Cecily Mallard and her “grit” studies were a hoot-and-a-half; Scott’s determination at meeting her just as fun.All around good fun that I enjoyed even more because of the crossword connection! Yay to Fiora for getting one published in the New York Times and kudos to Arvin Ahmadi for including a puzzle at the end of the book. This was a clever twist to the YA-discovery novel and extended the fun as I solved the grid!
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  • Vishaka Rajan
    January 1, 1970
    This was a really great YA novel about what it means to have grit! The book was funny, and sweet, and all about coming into one's identity. Scott is a teenager who just doesn't know what he wants to do and feels the pressure to live up to everyone's expectations. Unfortunately, this pressure causes him to give up quite easily - until he decides to become a "grittier" individual. I really connected a lot with Scott's character - I know what it's like to be lost and not know what you want to do wi This was a really great YA novel about what it means to have grit! The book was funny, and sweet, and all about coming into one's identity. Scott is a teenager who just doesn't know what he wants to do and feels the pressure to live up to everyone's expectations. Unfortunately, this pressure causes him to give up quite easily - until he decides to become a "grittier" individual. I really connected a lot with Scott's character - I know what it's like to be lost and not know what you want to do with life. This confusion and struggle was depicted in a wonderfully humorous context that kept me interested the entire way. I wanted to know Scott would rise up to the occasion and how his encounter with Fiora would change him. While I loved Scott's character, Fiora was a bit too eccentric for me. I definitely understand why the author made her the way he did, and I have no problems with her being crazy and zany.... but there were times when her behaviour really confused me and just wasn't necessary. I did love her addiction to crossword puzzles; that was a really unique feature of the story and I enjoyed reading about Fiora and Scott bonding through them. I also thought it was awesome that the author made a crossword at the end of the book for the reader to solve! Overall, this was a really nice coming-of-age story about identity, motivation, and grit! I'm giving it a solid 4/5 stars!Thank you to Penguin Random House and the First to Read program for this ARC in exchange for my honest review. For more reviews, check out: www.veereading.wordpress.com
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  • Lisa Ram
    January 1, 1970
    *The publisher provided me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review* Meet Scott/Saaket, a 17 Iranian boy who lives in Philadelphia. He narrates his story, which begins with his parents living him alone for the summer, trusting him to be responsible and occupy his time working. The father hopes Saaket will find a passion and a future career. Saaket's heart is not in it, and he wonders what is wrong with him. He decides to consult a specialist in Washington D.C., for which *The publisher provided me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review* Meet Scott/Saaket, a 17 Iranian boy who lives in Philadelphia. He narrates his story, which begins with his parents living him alone for the summer, trusting him to be responsible and occupy his time working. The father hopes Saaket will find a passion and a future career. Saaket's heart is not in it, and he wonders what is wrong with him. He decides to consult a specialist in Washington D.C., for which he must abandon the internship his father found for him and his home. What follows is the account of his adventures in DC and the people he meets. I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. I do identify with the main character's dilemma, which is why I wanted to read the book in the first place. However, it was not as relatable as I thought, although the character is likable enough. The introduction of the crossword theme is intresting. I learned a lot about crosswords and how they are constructed. There is even a crossword at the end, which is a nice addition. Most of the situations in the book are down to earth, very lifelike, after all people say life is stranger than fiction, but if you are looking for an insight or a clever realization about the nature of grit or passion, you will find the book falls a bit short. It is enjoyable, and will appeal to those who like YA or literary fiction.
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