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Down and Across


Down and Across

Scott Ferdowsi needs grit. Everyone around him is figuring out what they want to do with their life, but he doesn’t have a clue. His parents would love it if he became a doctor or an engineer, but Scott isn’t convinced that either of those options is right for him. So when his parents leave for a month, he runs away to Washington D.C., in pursuit of a psychologist who specializes in grit --- his plan to a successful future.

While on the bus to D.C., Scott meets Fiora, an aspiring crossword maker who shows him that there’s more to life than what his parents want for him. In his search for grit, Scott begins an adventure that’s sure to change his life.

"Ahmadi takes the typical coming of age story to new levels in DOWN AND ACROSS. He uses language that feels comfortable...yet he eloquently describes each scenario precisely."

Ahmadi takes the typical coming of age story to new levels in DOWN AND ACROSS. He uses language that feels comfortable, as if it is really coming out of the narrator’s mouth, yet he eloquently describes each scenario precisely. Each comparison and detail somehow relates back to the events of the story instead of some randomly complex metaphor employed by most authors. He writes in a way that everyone --- not just teenagers --- can relate to.

Each character is quirky in a completely real-life way. Scott, our easy-to-love narrator, has no idea who he wants to be, but is confident in a way that inspires others, like the psychologist Professor Mallard, to be better. His good nature and accepting personality make him the kind of person I wish I could know in real life. As he journeys through D.C., everyone he meets is unique in their own little way. Fiora sees the world through the lens of the downs and acrosses as in crossword puzzles, yet is bold and unafraid of risks. Trent, an aspiring politician who works as a bartender until his big break, strikes a fast friendship with Scott after he helps him after he crashed in a high speed bike chase. Nobody is boring in this novel, with personalities as layered as each individual in our world.

Most young adult books are centered on romance, but DOWN AND ACROSS is driven by the many relationships Scott forms as he grows. He gives life back to an uninspired professor, discovers how to take risks with Fiora and learns what it means to be a good friend with Trent. Each person affects him, and Scott grows --- not into a whole new person, but into a better version of himself.

In a search for grit, Scott travels to a new city, takes risks in everything he does, makes friends and learns that maybe the grit he was looking for has been inside him all along.

Reviewed by Caitlyn K., Teen Board Member on March 12, 2018

Down and Across
by Arvin Ahmadi