One Plus One drives home the point that a family is no longer made up of people who are all related by blood. Actually, I have always believed this. But I was thinking of the broader meaning while this book is more about the literal.
This is the first JoJo Moyes book that I have read, and frankly, I began reading with some mild trepidation. I always feel that way when reading a well known author for the first time. See, a person’s opinion is highly subjective and there is no reason for it, really. And I find it hard to tone down my reservations while writing a review. Thankfully, I won’t have to resort to that here.
A British setting is somewhat alien to me. Or I should rather say, a contemporary British setting, because I love my Agatha Christie and my Regency romances and my classics. I fear I don’t understand a lot of the pop culture of the current day British scene, or the slang. But One Plus One does not venture heavily into that.
Jess Thomas is a single mom raising a young daughter and teenage step son in Southampton. She cleans houses for a living and works at the local pub. They live in council housing, and have a big dog Norman who probably eats more than the rest of them combined. Life for the Thomas family is a series of disasters. Nicky, the boy, is abused and bullied. Tanzie is a math genius. Their father walked away two years ago and is taking a time out for depression, living up north with his mother. Tanzie has a chance to attend private school, but Jess can’t come up with the 10% portion of fees she needs to pay inspite of a scholarship.
Ed Nicholls is a computer wonder. He gets conned into a lawsuit by a scheming woman who made a lot of money out of him. Ed is kicked out of his job and faces jail time, and is asked to keep a low profile by his lawyer. He hides away in his beach house on the Southern coast.
Jess cleans for Ed, and they have a couple of meet-cutes. Ed ends up offering to drive the family to Scotland for the math Olympiad. And thus begins the road trip from hell. Ed’s brand new Audi is soon messed up with a hairy dog and puking kid. And Jess insists on sticking to a very low food budget per day. Not to mention she wants to sleep in the car to avoid paying for motels.
On the way, all the people in the car learn something about each other, and sometimes, about themselves. So much that they actually start tolerating each other’s presence. There is a big surprise awaiting the family in Scotland, one that will test them in many ways.
One Plus One is all about nonstop hurdles that life throws at us, whether we are rich or poor. And it is the story of a family that is struggling to stay afloat, literally hanging on by a thread. Will they face one shock too many? Or will they overcome all the curve balls and emerge triumphant?
Read Jojo Moyes’ One Plus One to find out. It gets a bit too sad at times, and its not a bubblegum pink feel good book by any means. But it is a story worth reading, because we can all relate to it at least a bit.