Down and Across by Arvin Ahmad (4 out of 5)

This one was sent as an advance. I liked the design of the cover, plus the fact that it looked to be a quick, light hearted read. It’s going to be released January 30, 2018, by Viking Books. I really enjoyed this one. 

Scott Ferdowdki is a teen who’s lost his passion. For everything. His dad is always on his case about finding his passion, his “grit”. He is always quoting popular studies and articles to try to get Scott motivated. When Scott begins hedging on completing his current internship, his father quotes Cecily Mallard, a professor who is well known for her talks and books on grit. Scott tunes out, until his parents depart for a two month trip to Iran. Then he blows off his internship, takes all his money, and impulsively hops a Greyhound to Washington, D.C. On the bus, he meets a quirky firecracker named Fiora. They strike up a friendship. He tells her of his plan to meet Cecily in person and ask her how to up his grit, and she informs him she loves constructing crossword puzzles. They part when they reach DC, but Scott wakes up in the hostel he’s staying in to find Fiora has somehow tracked him down. Her family life, personal, and professional life is up in the rafters, and she still tries to help her newfound friend find a way to figure out his life’s path and passion. She succeeds, and Scott ends up impressing Cecily enough with his honesty about he is there. This includes daring Scott to flirt with DC socialites and get some digits, which leads to meeting Jeanette, a cute, somewhat stalkeresque Christian conservative who crushes hard on Scott and reveals her true colors as a bigot when Scott and Fiora’s friend Trent comes out of the closet. She gets him fired and Scott (who was helping Trent at the bar to make extra cash), too, effectively ending that friendship. Fiora then tells Scott she played a part in the outcome, and a hurt and angry Scott takes his leave of Fiora. They orchestrate one last adventure, to try to get Trent a job with the campaign of the Independent Party candidate that he worships. Scott and Fiora’s story doesn’t quite come to the end the reader (well, this reader, at least) hoped for, and I took points off for that. You’ll have to read it and get back to me about that. Trent and Scott’s friendship is touching, real, and heartwarming. Jeanette…well, every story has a crazy bitch hiding somewhere, and she’s IT. Overall, what a great book! Anyone who has ever had a point in their life where they question the direction they are meant to go in, will immediately identify with Scott. There is one other scene in the book, which hints at racism among the masses. Given what Fiora pulls with Jeanette and the text messages and pushes Scott to a point of no return, it seems to tie in with what happens. The timing of the scene is kind of forced and somewhat stilted, though, and that bugged me, especially when the plot played out so well all the way through. Maybe it served to make Scott realize it was time to go home and let his parents know what he’s been up to. Again, a great read and inspiring to young people who are at a crossroads in regards to school, career, what sort of shoes will match their wig. You get the picture. In January, 2018, you should get the book. 

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~ by generationgbooks on October 1, 2017.

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