STARRED REVIEW
February 2018

The friends along the way

By Arvin Ahmadi
Review by

Sixteen-year-old Saaket Ferdowsi—but please call him Scott—lacks grit. So while his parents are visiting family in Iran, he hops on a bus to Washington, D.C., in order to visit a Georgetown professor who’s just won the MacArthur Genius Grant for her research on grit. But the friends he makes along the way—Trent, an aspiring U.S. senator, and Fiona, a crossword aficionado—teach him more about “sticktoitiveness” than he ever could have expected.

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Sixteen-year-old Saaket Ferdowsi—but please call him Scott—lacks grit. So while his parents are visiting family in Iran, he hops on a bus to Washington, D.C., in order to visit a Georgetown professor who’s just won the MacArthur Genius Grant for her research on grit. But the friends he makes along the way—Trent, an aspiring U.S. senator, and Fiona, a crossword aficionado—teach him more about “sticktoitiveness” than he ever could have expected.

Arvin Ahmadi’s charming debut, Down and Across, brings a strong new voice to teen literature. Scott’s uncertainty, and his panic over that uncertainty, will resonate with high school readers faced with the impossible task of figuring out what they want to do with their lives. The supporting characters’ efforts to juggle their own aspirations with their unique baggage will feel equally familiar.

Most of all, Scott’s spontaneous trip—and the lessons he learns about grit along the way—will likely help young readers relieve their own anxiety about the next steps in their lives.

 

This article was originally published in the February 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Down and Across

Down and Across

By Arvin Ahmadi
Viking
ISBN 9780425289877

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