Two Across

Jeff Bartsch

304 Pages

July 19th 2016

Grand Central Publishing

Two Across Cover

Book Summary

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?

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My Thoughts

*Print copy provided by Publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review*

Two Across by Jeff Bartsch is a heartwarming coming of age tale about two teenagers who first meet via a National Spelling Bee, and bond over a love of words, of crossword puzzles, and parents who want to plan their lives for them. As the two hatch a plot to start living their own lives, they start to realize they’ve gone about things all wrong, but by then, the damage is done.

Two Across is a compelling and well-written novel about the creating and breaking of trust, making amends for one’s mistakes, the power of forgiveness, and the pitfalls and triumphs that sometimes come with following one’s heart…and also running from one’s self. It’s a poignant tale about two teenagers who find each other and themselves, but not without a lot of mistakes, a lot of falsehoods, and a lot of lost time along the way.

I really enjoyed this book. I loved the messages Stanley and Vera left for each other, as well as the depth and layering of the story on whole. It’s a brilliant and enjoyable piece of writing and I’m so glad I got the chance to read it.

If you’re looking for a story with a lot of depth that will make you think, that will make you want to examine the nature of one’s actions and the depth of one’s passions, Two Across is a great book to pick up. It’s a steady read, with a lot of wonderful characterization and many thought-provoking life lessons. It is a book I thoroughly enjoyed reading. In fact, I am already anticipating Mr. Bartsch’s next work.

Final Analysis

*A strong book with a deep and powerful message*

4.5 Stars


 About the Author

Jeff Bartsch is the author of Two Across, and an award-winning copywriter who has worked on campaigns for many major brands. 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 Brooklyn, with his daughter.

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Deanna | OkieDreams

Deanna Lynn has been a substitute teacher, a baker, a website designer, a ceramic artist, a business co-owner and a sales and marketing manager for a ceramic shop in Oklahoma. She reads widely, laughs often and loves to talk about writing, books, and this confusing thing called life.

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