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Read online or Download Two Across (Full PDF ebook with essay, research paper)
by Jeffrey Bartsch

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Grand Central Publishing
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6.00(w) x 8.75(h) x 1.00(d)



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?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Debut author Bartsch’s promising tale is hurt by emotionally distant writing and an abrupt, disappointing ending. It’s 1960 when Stanley, trapped by his agoraphobic mother, and Vera, forever moving from one hotel room to the next with hers, meet as two teenagers who tie for first place in the National Spelling Bee (in Washington, D.C.). While his mother plans his future, Stanley just wants to create crossword puzzles, and so he hatches a plan to gain his freedom while keeping his fragile mother in the dark. He and Vera pretend to marry in order to cash in on the wedding gifts. Vera, secretly in love with Stanley, agrees to his scheme hoping that, in time, he’ll come to share her feelings. Stanley and Vera have good chemistry together, and the novel is populated by a quirky, diverse cast of characters. Unfortunately, Bartsch’s writing is detached and often clunky (“He tried, but she didn’t want to listen, and said she was done with all that, and furthermore she declared she was done with love”). Add to that a sudden ending and readers may feel cheated. (Aug.)

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