Review: Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website
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. 

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+ 

Down and Across is now out! 

Source: eARC provided by Penguin Random House's First to Read program

Buy Links: 

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Indiebound  

Author Links: 

Twitter | Website | Instagram 


  1. Oh man! The characters sound so wonderful in this book! And the setting! I love it when the setting is a huge part of the book. I'll have to look into this one!

  2. This sounds so good! I think a lot of people will be able to relate to Scott - I think a lot of us have no clue what to do with our lives sometimes! I also love the DC setting! Great review.

  3. I am so mad that I didn't grab this one when it was on First to Read. I seriously thought about it but decided against it. It does sound like a great read.

  4. I lucked out getting this from First to Read, because I loved it!!! The whole grit thing was awesome, I fell in love with all the characters (except that chick - you know who I am talking about), and Scott! He was the best. Such a wonderful coming-of-age tale.


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