Review: Down and Across, Arvin Ahmadi

There are no spoilers in this review.

In the long, endless list of my anticipated books of 2018, Arvin Ahmadi’s debut sat there for a while. Intrigued by the story that seemed like the perfect coming of age I always love reading, by the characters and, let’s face it, really wanting that lovely cover on my shelves, I’ve been eagerly waiting to read that book and… as I predicted, it was kind of a hit, for me.



In this story, we follow Scott (or Saaket, his real Iranian name, Scott being his β€œAmerican” name) as he tries to find his own passion. One thing that he will be able to finally follow through. In a world where’s he incapable of committing to anything, to his parents’ dismay, Scott really wants to do his best to finally find his thing. This trail of thought leads him to Washington D.C and to Professor Mallard’s office, a university researcher specialized in something called β€œgrit”. From here starts an incredible journey of self-discovery for our main character, a journey that will have you smiling and rooting for this main character from page one.



Here’s the thing: Scott is a highly relatable main character and it was so easy to root for him. Scott is me, or was, I’m not even sure, Scott is everyone at some point in their lives, as they’re trying to find their own β€œgrit” and whatever it is they’re supposed to do. It’s not an easy question to ask ourselves and it’s ever harder to find any kind of answer. Following Scott through this journey was incredibly real. Everything he thought and felt was relatable on some level and his way of reacting to any kind of situation, or new relationship was realistic. Somehow, Arvin Ahmadi just got what it’s like to be someone that doesn’t quite know what to do with the rest of his life and put it all over the pages of this book and hat’s off for that lovely performance.

Scott, or Saaket, was surrounded by an incredible cast of secondary characters. There’s Fiora, the one you might feel like a manic pixie dream girl clichΓ© from the first pages, from that mysterious aura she gets and Scott’s growing obsession with her. By the end of the book, I didn’t have that image of her too much anymore. She slowly grew in between the pages, developed and with each new layer of her personality, her family life, her own insecurities and mental health issues, appeared a new Fiora, three-dimensional and human. Trent was also another character I loved getting to know better. Each of them had their own passions, their own goals, from crossword puzzles to getting into politics and each of them brought something new to the page and to Scott’s life.



I also have to mention that I was thrilled about the diverse cast in this book. Our main character Scott, or Saaket, is an Iranian American. Even if I can’t speak about the accuracy of the representation here on a personal level, I appreciated seeing a glimpse of the language, the culture, the parents-children relationships in this story related to these origins. Trent is gay and another thing I loved is how this book mentioned politics and showed different political views within the characters, as well as tackled issues with religion, racism. Basically, this book was 200% accurate and real when it comes to characters, their relationships and everything that might come in between and shape them as a person. I loved that.

I got lucky enough to visit Washington D.C a couple years ago and Arvin Ahmadi got all the vibes right, from the places, the streets, Dupont Circle and everything in-between. I loved this setting as well and will admit that it made me a bit nostalgic for it all.



Down and Across was a great coming of age story I’d recommend to everyone, really. Charming, witty and really fun to read, this is also a journey about trying to find yourself and why it’s okay if it takes time. If it’s a work in progress, because after all, we are never entirely finished here. Arvin Ahmadi is definitely a new voice in the YA industry that I will follow for a while because, if that’s his debut, then the rest of the stories he has to tell promises to be really, really good.

I spent the night on Fiora’s couch and dozed off thinking about the universe. How it’s indefinitely incomplete – like us. How the best ideas, events, people and lives don’t need to wrap up nicely to mean something.

Final rating:Β  4 drops!

A million thanks to Penguin Random House International for the review copy of this book. This did not, in any way, influence my thoughts and rating.

Arvin Ahmadi, Down and Across, Β Published by Viking Books for Young Readers, February 6th, 2018.


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.

Did you read Down and Across? Do you want to?

Do you usually like coming-of-age stories? What are some of the latest characters you could really relate to? Let me know in comments!

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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

52 thoughts on “Review: Down and Across, Arvin Ahmadi

  1. Well, since you already stated that you liked this one I was expecting an enthusiastic review. This one is on my whislist, even if not on the top list of my prioritie.
    I’m so glad that the MC is so reletable. The blurb made me think a lot of how I’m a bit “old” and that there’re so many occasion that I missed. Okay, before I’m going to be melancholic I stop πŸ˜‚
    It’s interesting that political view are in the novel and between characters’ relationship. It’s a really real thing that often doesn’t make in the pages

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha oh don’t stop, we can be all melancholic together if you want πŸ˜‚
      I agree and it was refreshing and great to see that making it in the pages, made the story even… more realistic somehow πŸ™‚
      Hope you’ll get to read this one and enjoy it πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

    1. OH YAY this makes me so happy! I hope you will get to read it soon and will love it. I only went to DC once, but I loved getting back into the city with this book, I hope you’ll find a great portrayal of the city there! πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much, Sydney! πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice review Marie. I am so pissed of right now, after reading your review, because I saw this on NetGalley and I didn’t request it.. I mean why? I have no idea 😦 But I am glad you enjoyed it.

    Also, I am not sure if “Saaket” is an Iranian name, but it is an Indian name for sure πŸ˜› I have a few friends of the same name. It is always good to read about different cultures and countries. And I love it when the authors describe them perfectly.

    Also, I was wondering what exactly ‘coming-of-age’ stories from your PoV? I guess I have read a few.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH NO WHYYY didn’t you. I hope you will be able to get your hands on that one soon, it was such a lovely read, I have a feeling you could enjoy it πŸ˜€
      OH I did not know that, that’s pretty great! πŸ˜€
      I think for me, coming of age stories are really focusing on a characters’ growth ❀
      thank you so much! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I got my dispatch notification that this book is on it’s way to me yesterday and I am SO EXCITED. The first chapter was published on Bustle a couple weeks ago, and I fell in love within about 30 seconds. I am so pleased to her that you liked the book – now I am even more excited!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH YAY that’s so great! I can’t WAIT for you to read that one, I have a feeling it would be your kind of book πŸ˜€ Hope you will love it πŸ™‚ and thank you! ❀


  4. Coming of age stories are my faves! Down and Across sounds really good when it comes to characters and of course, diversity in a story is a great attraction for me, as a reader. The whole concept of Scott finding his thing…or trying to like we all keep doing would be so relatable, so this is definitely going to my TBR πŸ˜€ Great review, as always, Marie! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wonderful review Marie, as always! πŸ™‚ I love the sound of this so much, it sounds so relatable! I love books about self-discovery, because it’s something I’m/we all are still doing! Definitely want to check this one out.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a brilliant review Marie. πŸ™‚ ❀️ Before reading this I hadn’t heard of Down and Across but after reading it I have to add this book to my TBR list. I love coming of age stories and Scott’s sounds like an incredible one to dive into as well. I can definitely relate to a character who doesn’t know where the rest of his life is going (though I have a better idea of where the rest of my own life is going at the moment), and from the sounds of it the Washington setting was well written too which will probably make me want to hop on a plane there immediately. πŸ˜€
    Again great review! πŸ™‚ ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OH thank you so, so much Beth! ❀ Scott's story was so great and really relatable in so many ways, I loved following his journey and all the Washington setting was amazing as well πŸ˜€ I hope you'll make some place for it in your endless TBR πŸ™‚
      Thank you! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve not even heard of this book until now. This definitely sounds like my kind of book and I think I’d definitely be able to see parts of myself in Scott in terms of him finding “grit.” I feel like I’ve just been living in that state of “what am I actually doing” for the past year or so haha. I love a good journey of self-discovery and I especially love the fact that the secondary characters have just as much depth to them. I’ll definitely be adding this book to my tbr and in doing so hope I might find some inspiration to break this slump haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh don’t worry – I feel like this book kind of flew off the radar and that makes me a little sad. It was such a lovely read and deserves ALL the praise.
      I have a feeling you could really enjoy it, it was such a fun coming of age story and… maybe it will get you out of this slump? I found it really easy to get into! ❀ ❀
      Thank you so much, Lois! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wow, this is such a lovely review! I’ve only heard the best things for Down and Across, and I’m glad you ended up enjoying it as well! I believe this is an #ownvoices narrative too? Either way, Scott sounds like a really relatable character. I’m not sure of Fiora just yet because I’m not a fan of the manic pixie girl trope, but we shall see! Thanks for the awesome review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you so much, Aila! πŸ™‚ It is an #ownvoices narrative, I think so yes! πŸ™‚ I hope you will have the chance to read it someday, I think you could really enjoy it πŸ™‚
      Thank you!! ❀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Scott is an Iranian-American main character, if I remember right, it is mentioned once that he is muslim in the book, but there are no other mentions in the story about that πŸ™‚
      I hope you will be able to read it soon and THAT YOU WILL LOVE IT ❀ I really loved it ❀
      Thank you so much and noooo you don't suck at all, YOU ARE THE SWEETEST!! ❀ ❀


  9. Fantastic review as always, Marie πŸŒΈπŸ‘‘
    Thanks to you this book has now officially made it onto my TBR! I feel like this is exactly the book I need at the moment; life can sometimes be SO confusing and hard and I think reading about a character that is equally confused about his place in life would be SO amazing righg now! I’m also really glad to hear that it was so amazingly diverse, really can’t wait to read this.

    P.S. Omw I’m so happy to see you received an ARC from Penguin! You definitely deserve it 🌸

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you so much, Michelle! I’m so happy to hear this ❀
      Down and Across was such a breath of fresh air and definitely a great read for anyone feeling slightly confused about lie and everything being, well, not quite figured out. I loved that so much ❀
      I hope you'll get to read it soon and that you will love it πŸ˜€
      AND THANK YOU SO MUCH, you're way too sweet! I was OVER THE MOON to be able to get this book, I could still cry thinking about the chance, ahah . ❀ Thank you!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s such a pleasure ❀

        I’m definitely placing it on my wishlist and I’ll definitely buy it when it is available over here! It really sounds SO good and I’ve seen multiple people loving it including Adam Silvera – so it has to be really good 🌸

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Aw, I’m so happy you enjoyed it, Marie!! To be fair, I’ve seen you rave about it on Twitter, I was really excited to read your review! It sounds like a great debut with a very diverse cast and now I’m very interested! Also, yaaaay for getting the ARC!!! I’m so happy about you getting it because you deserve all the ARCs in the world, Marie! I keep saying it, but everyone should trust you with their books, I would definitely trust you with my book!! ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you SO much Marta! I have a feeling this could be the kind of book you would love? I hope you’ll read it someday, the characters were so great to follow ❀
      And awwwwwww thank you, you're way too sweet with me, I don't know what I did to deserve you ❀


  11. What a wonderful review Marie ❀ I’m SO incredibly happy to hear that you enjoyed this book! When I first heard of it and read the synopsis, I KNEW I had to add it to my TBR! I like that Scott was such a relatable character and I feel like I’ll be able to see myself in him as well because I’m at a similar stage in my life where I just question everything about my future and where I’m supposed to go πŸ˜‚

    I’m also really happy about the diverse cast! I don’t think I’ve ever heard about a book with an Iranian protagonist which is another main reason why I wanted to pick up this book! One of my closest friends is Iranian and I love their culture so I’m very excited to read this book! And I might even recommend it to her πŸ™‚

    Again, fantastic review and thank you so much for sharing πŸ’–


    1. Oh thank you so, so much Jackie ❀ I hope you will be able to read this book soon and that you will love it. The cast of characters was incredible and YES for the diversity, I loved it so much as well it was refreshing to see an Iranian protagonist πŸ™‚ Can't wait for you to read it πŸ™‚
      Thank you!! ❀ ❀

      Liked by 1 person

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