Welcome to my first ever blog tour! This is also why I am posting a review on a Wednesday, but anyway here’s my review for Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi.
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.
Arvin Ahmadi was born and raised in Northern Virginia. He graduated from Columbia University and lives in Brooklyn. Down and Across is his first novel.
Down and Across is about the Iranian Scott who is forced by his father to do an internship he doesn’t want to do. But Scott doesn’t know what he does want to do in his life. I could definitely relate to Scott. Like him, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to do in life, rethinking my choices and so on, but like him, I realized that not everything needs to be planned out. He is a very relatable character and also a very likable one. I think a lot of teens (and older readers too) could relate to him and his experiences. I’m not Iranian, so I can’t say anything about whether the representation was accurate, but it felt really realistic. I loved how Scott’s identity was woven through his personality and family.
“I imagined the big bang, which created our scattered universe: scattered, but acceptable. Indefinitely incomplete. I wondered: Why aren’t I allowed to be indefinitely incomplete too?”
Though I did enjoy reading about the side characters, they weren’t all as likable. They were flawed, a little flat at times, but yet they were interesting and different. I can’t say I liked Fiora or Jeanette much but I did really like how they influenced Scott and changed him as a person. You could really well see how he changed, and not just by the characters but also by the things he learned along the way.
“Of course I didn’t mind. Who was I to mind? Who was anyone? I was Iranian, and Jeanette was Christian, and Trent was gay. These were facts, and the world kept spinning.”
The story itself is funny, interesting, and also inspiring. It’s about being gritty, about persevering to do the things you want to do and not giving up and it has definitely inspired me. There were a few plot twists I really didn’t see coming and there was always something going on to keep you intrigued in the story. Though it wasn’t a happily ever after, I loved the ending. It wasn’t romanticized, it was just real. Like the story is.
“Two steps forward, one back. Five forward, twelve back. Left, right, diagonal, down, across, and right back around 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.
I am giving this book 4 stars, it is a really good story that’s funny, relatable and inspiring! There’s some diversity in the book, which I really liked. I definitely liked reading from an Iranian boy’s perspective, which I haven’t done before and I really liked how that affected the story. I loved how quirky, yet flawed the characters were and the story was just a joy to read. I definitely recommend it!
Thanks to Penguin Random House for letting me take part in their blog tour and providing a review copy.