Thursday, February 08, 2018

Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi

In Down and Across, 16-year-old Scott (real name Saaket) is an Iranian American with helicopter parents and a focus problem. Because he hasn't found his passion, he has a tendency to give up on everything he tries. He's distressed about it but doesn't have any idea what to do to change himself until he finds out about a professor who has dedicated her life to studying "grit" (determination). She's found that people with a high level of grit are more successful.

Scott's parents are traveling to Iran for a month because his grandfather is ailing and his father has arranged for Scott to spend the month doing an internship in which he has zero interest. After giving the internship a try, Scott quits and takes a bus to Washington, D.C. to seek out the professor. Maybe she can teach him how to discover grit. On the bus to DC, Scott meets Fiora Buchanan. Fiora is spontaneous, whimsical, and fun but her delightful personality hides the darker side of her life. While Fiora and a friend of hers from Charleston help Scott navigate the area, Scott pursues his search to discover grit and learns some surprising things about himself in the process.

Recommended - Within the first 50 pages of Down and Across I was almost certain I was going to have to painfully force myself through it or give up. But, eventually the author began to woo me and in the end I found it quirky, surprising and endearing. I loved the uniqueness of its plotline, using crossword puzzles as a metaphor for life, and the fact that I never knew quite where the author was going to take me, next. I'm quick to abandon books that don't grab me up front but I'm glad I stuck this one out.

©2018 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.


  1. I love when sticking to a story pays off.

    1. Me, too! This one was definitely worth sticking out.


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