Scott Ferdowsi has a record of quitting, but he wants to quit (this habit). His parents keep pressuring him to get serious and choose a career path, but Scott feels like he needs to get grittier to be able to do anything.
In chasing down a famous professor who specializes in grit, which is studied to be directly correlated with success, Scott ends up embarking on an adventure across DC for guidance on success, meeting interesting characters along the way who help him find out who he is and who he wants to be.
I really enjoyed reading this book! It was an enjoyable coming of age novel that followed Saaket’s journey in discovering who he is and gaining this abstract concept of “grit.”
Saaket is such an interesting character and I loved how complex he is–he’s dealing with so many subplots at once.
His Iranian-American heritage comes into play a lot, not only with the “tiger parents” but also with small encounters–finding books written by authors that “look like him,” an Australian dude calling him a “fookin’ terrorist,” etc. I really enjoyed learning about how Saaket also struggled with his culture as a child–having a “weird” name and being called out for the food he eats.
But he’s also working with finding grit so he can be successful. Saaket starts out very misled at the beginning–it’s obviously so. But along the way, he discovers true grittiness–not what he hoped the famous professor would bestow upon him in a one day visit.
And then he’s dealing with the romance and just general lack of passion he has. Apathetic-ness is the hobgoblin of success (do you like my Emerson reference?) and Saaket is really trying to counter this by “being gritty about grittiness.”
I think he was an interesting character, but sometimes, specifically the apathetic portions, I couldn’t relate to him very well.
But nonetheless, Saaket’s journey is very interesting.
I think Ahmadi is a great writer–the technical skill is all there. There are these wordplays throughout the text, subtle things, that really made the lightbulb glow for me, and his formation and buildup of the characters, including the side ones too, were done well and respectfully.
And I really enjoyed how the plot interwove with the character growth. It wasn’t like they were two separate plots, character growth as one, adventure as the other, but instead they worked together really well.
I did find the middle portion to be a little stagnant for my tastes–it dragged and was slow-going for some of the middle–but I feel like this reflected what was going on with Saaket at the time and was definitely worth pushing through.
This was a really great read–well constructed and interesting for the reader. I very much enjoyed reading it and will definitely be anticipating what Ahmadi comes out with next! If you’re looking for an insightful coming-of-age novel about success, along with some fun quirks thrown in as well, I would definitely recommend you check out Down and Across.
Thank you to Penguin First to Read for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!
Have you read Down and Across? What do you think of the summary?