Vera is a genius. She knows this too as she's about to compete in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC. The only problem is, her rival Stanley is a genius as well. Because of this, Vera hates him, but what starts out as hate quickly changes into a friendship. Together they plot schemes to make money from those around them before they reluctantly are pushed off to college together. Stanley would much rather continue making crossword puzzles for a living than pursue college - he has already had a few published in major newspapers even at his young age. But what starts off as a quirky novel about young "love", this story turns deeper slowly. It morphs into a much more thicker plot with great character development.
Vera falls in love with Stanley but can't be with him because he insists on continuing his schemes and ploys. But its that kind of love where you never can really leave the person no matter how many times you try. The novel becomes a little heartbreaking as Vera finally accepts her fate, leaves Stanley for good, and the reader is forced to watch Stanley come to his senses and try and right all his wrongs. He is in a desperate search for Vera to prove to her he has changed. But its the 1960s and communication is limited. So the only way they can communicate with each other is through hidden clues embedded in crossword puzzles they publish in newspapers.
This novel was so much more than I had anticipated. Finishing it was both satisfying and yet left me wanting more. Funny, tragic, well-written, and deep characters are just a few of the great attributes this book has. If it does have a flaw, it would be the pacing. A little slow at times but it does pick up. And when it gets going around 40% in, it flies. It reminded me of stories such as Forrest Gump and Benjamin Button, rather than a central core plot, it was more of a life story of these two characters. I can't wait to see what Bartsch has cooked up for his next book. This one was truly a delight.
I love to read and to discuss books. My preferred genre is sci-fi but I like to read mostly anything.