I am a nerd in all respects. I always have a book in my bag; I dig me some old-school Star Trek; and I’m a sucker for a good puzzle. Needless to say, when I saw Two Across, a book about two kids who meet at the National Spelling Bee and then one of those kids goes on to become a nationally-syndicated crossword writer, it was a no-brainer; I had to read it.
Both geniuses in their own right, Vera Baxter and Stanley Owens first cross paths as fifteen year-old finalists in the National Spelling Bee. At the same awkward point in life with the same kind of overbearing mother and the same unusual hotel upbringing, Vera and Stanley forge an instant connection. It’s not long before they put their gifted heads together and launch a scheme to free themselves from the oppressive burden of their mothers’ expectations and set out to forge their own paths in the world.
Years of foiled plans and missed connections follow in this completely original take on love at first sight. Two Across was very sweet yet, surprisingly, more than a bit melancholy. Unfortunately, I feel as though I had my own missed connection with it. The idea behind the book was perfectly clever, but at times the execution fell flat. It was filled with the quirkiness that I usually love (à la The Rosie Project), yet it often felt disingenuous and overdone. Instead of finding the characters and their choices to be amusing and endearing, I found them to be largely frustrating and irrational. I think that the book had great potential, but unfortunately I came away with the feeling that it was just mediocre. Sadly, not every book is a winner!
I did like, though, that topics so near and dear to my nerdy little heart were featured so prominently in a novel. (Crossword puzzles and spelling bees!!!) What are some of your geeky go-tos?
Until then, happy reading!
Little Book Reviews