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?
The year was 1960 and a fifteen-year-old Vera Baxter was driven to succeed. It didn’t matter if it was mastering mathematics or science, she could do it all.
As the child of an equally ambitious mother, they travelled from one spelling bee to another while Vera plans out her bright future. First, she will attend a prestigious ivy league university and then she will go on to change the world.
And then she met Stanley.
One thing was for sure: She was alive. She was no longer her mother’s captive, pacing the floor with a math journal in one hand and hypothesizing to herself that this was as exciting as life would ever get for her. She had a real, honest-to-God situation on her hands, involving an interesting boy, a boy who most certainly knew the square root of four. And he was offering her a genuine, here-and-now opportunity to do something adventurous and a little bad, which she often dreamed of in the warm, sleepy afternoons when her books were overheated by use and in her exhaustion she lay her head on her arms and set loose her fantasies. Also, paradoxically, getting married - “Okay, fine, pretend married,” she said to herself - would offer her a way of finally feeling like she fit in.
Stanley Owens struggled under the weight of his mother’s love. He grew up living in a suite at the Hawthorne Hotel where until his death, his father served as the hotel’s concierge.
His dreams are filled with adventure and crossword puzzles – not attending Harvard as his mother demands. So when he encounters Vera, he recognizes the same wanderlust inside of her and devises a plan that might be the ultimate answer for both of them. All they have to do is get married when they turn eighteen.
After that, it seemed that every single one of Stanley’s grand designs only worked to separate him from Vera. By the time that he realizes what he actually has – it’s too late – she’s gone. He searches for her in the only way that he knows how – with clues in a crossword puzzle.
How long is too long to look for the other half of your soul?
Fate will never intervene on your behalf. The universe will not come to your rescue. You are yours and yours alone to save. The work is yours to do.
Two Across is a one of a kind intellectual love affair. There’s something about the way that the words express so much more than their literal meaning that somehow makes it both daring and poignant all at the same time.
You’ll laugh at the absurdity and cry at the feeling of loneliness – and your heart will be unforgettably full in the end…
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