I’ve recently become very excited about solving crossword puzzles, so imagine my delight to find a refreshing, smart novel featuring crossword puzzles as part of the plot! Jeffrey Bartsch’s debut novel, Two Across, is about two brainy people trying to build a relationship, in spite of their own limitations.
It starts when Stanley and Vera, both high school students, meet at the National Spelling Bee championship in a Washington DC hotel in 1963. Stanley lives in the hotel with his mother, who never wants to leave her hotel room. Vera lives with her mother, who is a traveling saleswoman dreaming of a bigger career, and is always on the road. The two spellers respond to the pressures of being precocious young adults in diametrically opposing ways. Vera’s off to the Ivy League for college, while Stanley is determined to pursue a career in creating crossword puzzles.
The story is about truth and lies, honesty and love, wisdom and foolishness. It’s full of spelling bees and crossword puzzles. And the adjective “quirky” fits this book beautifully. The characters drive the story, and if you like clever books, this one should fit the bill!
Other quirky, clever books include:
The Very Nice Box by Laura Blackett and Eve Gleichman
The Boys by Katie Hafner
Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel