One Plus One, Jojo Moyes
To be published July 1st 2014 by Penguin Group Viking
Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.
I will not deny that I’m a bit obsessed with Jojo Moyes right now. I thought Me Before You was one of the best books I read last year and so I’m willing to read anything she writes right now.
As One Plus One begins we meet poor Jess. As we learn about her life I just wanted to give her a hug. She owns a cleaning business with her best friend Natalie. Jess supports herself, her 10 year-old daughter Tanzie, and her teenage step-son Nicky all while her husband is basically loafing off an alleged bout of depression and not sending any financial or moral help.
Moyes makes you feel like you’re right there in the housing estate (British public housing) that Jess lives in with her family and makes your heart hurt for their struggles. Tanzie is too smart for her school and Nicky is just too different to be accepted by his peers. Jess meets Ed, who comes to her off as a rich jerk, totally oblivious to the people around him such as the woman who cleans his house. Yes, Ed has major problems of his own –what with an insider trading accusation coming up and causing him to flee London — but he while he might be oblivious he is not really the jerk he originally comes of as. He has lost sight of what’s important and through Jess and her kids he’s given a chance to find himself again.
Tanzie is given an opportunity to compete in a Math Olympiad in Scotland and the cash winnings would be life changing for this family. The fates conspire against Jess being able to get her there to compete on time and so Ed becomes the family’s only hope. Ed’s new luxury car filled with Jess, Tanzie, Nicky and their smelly but unfailingly loyal dog Norman.
Yes, I found the road trip to be slightly silly and unrealistic- but what I loved was the moments Jess and Ed had and the experience this family had together. They were sad at times and hilarious at times. I loved Jess, but Nicky’s story particularly broke my heart as I was reading, so I also really loved getting the perspective from him. This was a story about love, about choosing to make your own family and about standing up for what’s right. You can easily get past the silly feeling you get with the road trip and just enjoy the ride.
Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Group Viking for this advance copy in exchange for an honest opinion.