TWO ACROSS / Jeff Bartsch

Vera and Stanley meet in 1960 at a National Spelling Bee Championship and an unusual friendship begins. They are both brilliant but socially awkward fifteen year olds who have spent their entire lives under the thumbs of their mothers. Each mother is single and has high hopes for their only child. Vera’s mother envisions an Ivy League education followed by a career as an outstanding mathematician for her daughter and Vera approves. But Stanley wants no part of higher education and desperately wants to devote his life to creating crossword puzzles. After high school he feigns acceptance at college and pretends to be away at school. As he struggles and fails to support himself,  he comes up with a desperate plan that involves proposing marriage to Vera although he does not love her. Thus begins a tale of deception, humor, sadness, failure and redemption. An amazing first novel.      Val

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