Two Across

Two Across

by Jeffrey Bartsch


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Highly awkward teenager Stanley Owens meets his match in beautiful, brainy Vera Baxter when they tie for first place in the annual National Spelling Bee-and the two form a bond that will change both of their lives.

Though their mothers have big plans for them-Stanley will become a senator, Vera a mathematics professor-neither wants to follow these pre-determined paths. So Stanley hatches a scheme to marry Vera in a sham wedding for the cash gifts, hoping they will enable him to pursue his one true love: crossword puzzle construction. In enlisting Vera to marry him, though, he neglects one variable: she's secretly in love with him, which makes their counterfeit ceremony an exercise in misery for her.

Realizing the truth only after she's moved away and cut him out of her life, Stanley tries to atone for his mistakes and win her back. But he's unable to find her, until one day he comes across a puzzle whose clues make him think it could only have been created by Vera. Intrigued, he plays along, communicating back to her via his own gridded clues. But will they connect again before it's all too late?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781455554621
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 08/04/2015
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Jeff Bartsch is an award-winning copywriter who has worked on campaigns for many major brands, received the D&D Young Guns Award, and been featured twice in Adweek's Spot of the Week. He studied creative writing at the University of Wisconsin, and held the Katey Lehman Fellowship in the MFA program at Penn State University. He lives in New York.

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Two Across 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
gaele More than 1 year ago
Stanley and Vera are achievers, with strong-willed mothers in their back pockets, determining each move. Meeting as co-champions at the National Spelling Bee, and the two are instantly bonded in their love of words and the frustration with their mothers’ plans for them. See- Stanley doesn’t want to be a senator, he wants to build crossword puzzles. Vera has little interest in mathematics, and a life of academia makes her yawn. While they both find a connection, Vera is intrigued by the person Stanley shows her, and develops more than a small crush. The only alternative that they can see to making their own lives is to marry – entirely for show – and move on their own paths. But, Vera truly does have feelings for Stanley – feelings that he is using in ways that show his early training in manipulating his mother are played out with Vera. These two are intriguing: Stanley’s mother is agoraphobic and manipulative, and he’s used to functioning around and without her interference by using similar tactics. He’s driven, intelligent and rather sociopathic in his desires to achieve his own ends, others be damned. Vera is directed and driven, but so afraid of rejection and conflict that she never actually confronts Stanley on his bad behavior, rather plays along in the on again-off again relationship, never to be truly satisfied. Through the years covered in the story, these two arrange ‘reunions’ using crossword puzzles and clues in various newspapers. Insanely clever in a premise, and these two are intriguing. But Vera is far more the empathetic character, even as she isn’t able to put her foot down and stop Stanley’s manipulations earlier. She’s a run not confront sort of person, and she’s constantly running from things, most importantly standing up to Stanley, telling him how she feels and demanding her own space and input in their very dysfunctional relationship. There are tons of good bits here – the puzzles are clever and work into the plot in ways that are both revealing and surprising. Those alone are sure to please fans who want something different. The back and forth between these two tends to muddy the clear pacing and path forward as they grow and find their ways (or not) together. While the conclusion was perfectly fitting, giving the best outcome I could expect in many ways, the bittersweet tones felt appropriate and closed their story nicely. A wonderful story for fans of literary fiction or those who enjoy a bit of a puzzle. I received an Arc copy of the title from the publisher for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
Anonymous 5 months ago
a delightful, intelligent story which capturesd my heart at 1 across
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the strong female character.
Lisa-Lou More than 1 year ago
Two Across by Jeff Bartsch is a standalone romantic fiction novel that is so unique and quirky you can't help falling into the pages and soaking up Vera and Stanley's story. Set in the 50's and 60's and starting with a spelling bee this story will draw you in as their relationship progresses. Through the awkwardness of the really smart to the confidence of the adult who has finally found their place in the world, the transitions these characters make as they grow up and learn life lessons is both heartwarming and a little bittersweet. While outside of my usual box of romance novels, this was a wonderful read that kept me fully engaged with story throughout.
Debby43 More than 1 year ago
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. This book had such an emotional impact, yet I didn’t feel like anything was left unsaid.t. Some points I loved in each character, and some points I wanted to smack out of each character. On a side note this cover is gorgeous!!! Let’s start of with Stanley, he is such a strange young man. He lives with his mother in a hotel. The hotel let’s them live there because his father died in WWII and he used to work for the hotel. His mother rarely leaves their hotel room she has agoraphobia. Ever since his father has died his mother has been overprotective of him. Stanley has been taught from encyclopedias and any other books he can get his hands on. He seems to have an overactive brain, while he seems to be on a genius level his common sense seems a little lacking. Even though he lacks in common sense he is a very likable character. I love the dorky but kind of attractive guy He meets Vera at a spelling bee when they are teenagers, she is also a genius of sorts. Add a couple awkward years and no other friends and Stanley makes up a plan to run away from college and spend his life making crossword puzzles. However he needs Vera to make his plan work, they must get married! Except it will be a fake marriage. After the fake marriage the lies just start spiraling out of control. Every time he gets in a jam it seems that Vera pays the price. Just when he thinks he has figured out his feelings for Vera she may be gone forever. Vera lives the gypsy life with her mom traveling from hotel to hotel so her mom can become number 1 sales person in her company.While on the road Vera’s mom is constantly testing her knowledge which leads her to the same spelling bee that Stanley is at. Vera is awkward and would just like a boyfriend. However no one seems to live up to her friend Stanley. She only gets to see him once a year but that is enough for now. When he finally brings Vera in on his plan she agrees thinking he will eventually fall for her truly. After a while of not getting the emotional connection she needs from Stanley, Vera decides to move away from Stanley. However she can’t stay away from him for long and is always leaving him clues to her whereabouts. These characters are really complex, I feel like you would either connect with them or you won’t. This isn’t your normal romance story, it is not all insta-love filled with happy moments and happily ever afters. It’s about two young people being able to find themselves and each other. Stanley’s inability to see beyond himself, and Vera’s constant running away is almost to much to handle sometimes. However when they some of their moments together are super adorable. Plus I learned a ton of new words while reading this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago