January 18, 2018

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Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi | SLJ Review

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redstarAHMADI, Arvin. Down and Across. 336p. Viking. Jan. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780425289877.

Gr 8 Up –Scott Ferdowsi cannot commit to anything. He has written a novel with only three chapters and he quits his summer internship after only one week. He frequently gives up and has no drive to finish projects. Intrigued by a genius professor studying grit, Scott hastily jumps on a bus to D.C., meets Fiora and adventure ensues. Fiora is impulsive, creates crossword puzzles that are reflective of her rough childhood, and eventually pushes Scott out of his comfort zone. He begins sneaking into bars, asking girls he has never met out on dates, creating crossword puzzles, and finds himself in the process. Most teens do not know what they want to do at 16, so Scott is not in the minority with his indecisive behavior. Students will relate to the struggle Scott feels to find his passion and future path. This story authentically represents the pressures placed on a child of immigrant parents. The book skews older due to underage drinking and mention of drug use. With an Iranian main character and a female lead with anxiety and depression this book confronts issues of racism, mental health, and sexism in an appropriate and candid manner. VERDICT A story of friendship, growing up, and learning to commit to something, this YA debut will be a great selection for high school libraries.–Morgan O’Reilly, Riverdale Country School, NY

This review was published in the School Library Journal December 2017 issue.

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