Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4 out of 5
Recommend to Others?: Yes
Favorite Quotes: “I can live with my downs and acrosses; I accept the larger truths of my life. But I don’t take the cells so seriously.”
“‘Failure isn’t permanent,’ she said. ‘Grit is the ability to learn and fail and learn some more. That ability is fluid, not fixed. You have the power to change.”
“Sometimes we know where we’re going and sometimes we get lost. But as long as we move, we grow.”
“I’d never been good at finishing things. But adventures like this one stay with you; they’re never really done. It’s like the universe. I can’t guarantee humankind will go on forever, but it’s going somewhere. Baby steps, growth. Because completion isn’t a prerequisite for growth. Momentum is.”
Summary (via Goodreads):
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.
A good book all things considered.
Down and Across is at first underwhelming but embodies a truck-load of chaotic charm and insight. Scott is the struggle of today that’s highly relatable.
It took me a while to really get into the book, hence the underwhelming feeling. I’m still not sure what it was because a lot was happening – maybe the action just wasn’t exciting enough? I could related to Scott (aka Saaket) Ferdowsi, the main character, in some ways, so that kept me curious and going. That and the great quotes you can find throughout (I have six sticky-note tabs marking pages, post-read). Not to mention Scott’s quest to become gritty is as admirable as it is adventurous. There’s a lot to take away from this book.
I’ve been to DC a few times for occasions only but I haven’t fully seen the city as much as Scott did. While I can’t speak to what it’s like in DC it does seem like the perfect place for this book’s cast of characters to roam and for the story to be told in. Every character is a stark contrast to each other – especially in the case of Scott and Fiora who are on two ends of a very long pole. But everyone is also incredibly real and I love that about this book. A few characters I didn’t like, but they’re realness and how they’re shaped make them the right characters for this hectic story as well. No one is a perfect angel and there are moments of shaking-my-head and not-sure-that’s-a-good-idea. Everything is so real – the author did a fantastic job writing this story.
I’ve never been good at crosswords (I’m a word search gal). But the metaphor and how Fiora explained crosswords in relation to one’s life made sense. I thought it a fun idea that a blank crossword was included in the back for the reader to solve. My favorite scene was meeting the Crossword Crusaders – so so funny and you get the best picture of who Fiora is.
From what you get out of it and from the way the story is told, Down and Across is definitely worth the read. I look forward to Arvin Ahmadi’s next book.