I read The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes a few months ago while on a long car trip. Luckily my husband drove so I could read. This was a re-read for me but I read this years ago so I couldn’t remember much of the plot. It was the perfect book to read in the car as the plot involves a road trip to Scotland.
If there’s one thing Jojo Moyes does well it’s creating characters who you can’t help but feel for and cheer for. The One Plus One is told from the perspective of four characters. Jess Thomas is a single mum separated from her deadbeat husband and working two jobs to try and make ends meet. Ed Nichols is a rich, talented software developer with a lot of brains but not the best sense when it comes to relationships. Tanzie is Jess’s tween daughter and a math genius. She has the chance for a better future at a new school, but money is an overwhelming obstacle. And Nicky is the teenage son of Jess’s ex who she has taken under her wing. His difference and love of eyeliner makes him the constant target of the local bullies.
Jess meets Ed when she cleans his holiday home and again when he gets drunk at the pub where she works and she is forced to take him home. The pair don’t think much of each other and their worlds are very different. At this point you might think the book is setting up a Cinderella-like story of rich guy falls for poor, single mum. But this book is far more interesting than that.
Through a whole heap of circumstances, The One Plus One becomes a road trip/Little Miss Sunshine-type story. Ed offers to drive Jess and her family to Scotland so that Tanzie can compete in a mathematics competition. If she wins, she will earn the money she needs to pay for tuition at a school for gifted kids. Along for the ride is Norman, a huge slobbering, farting dog who is unofficially the fifth main character in this novel.
I’m not giving much away. How they end up in a car together and what will happen along the way is what makes this such a great read. Throw in a visit to the deadbeat dad, Ed’s current trouble with the law, Nicky’s struggle to find his place in the world, Jess’s guilty secret and Tanzie’s quest, and this was the perfect weekend road trip read.
If you haven’t read Jojo Moyes before, you should definitely give her a try. So often women’s fiction is made out to be brainless fluff by critics, but this book shows just how much intelligence goes into writing a page turner. It’s nice to read a book where you truly care about the fate of the characters. I’d love to see this made into a movie some time.
Verdict: A fantastic book that will tug on your heartstrings.