Published by Penguin on February 27th 2014
One single mum
With two jobs and two children, Jess Thomas does her best day after day. But it's hard on your own. And sometimes you take risks you shouldn't. Because you have to . . .
One chaotic family
Jess's gifted, quirky daughter Tanzie is brilliant with numbers, but without a helping hand she'll never get the chance to shine. And Nicky, Jess's teenage stepson, can't fight the bullies alone.
Sometimes Jess feels like they're sinking . . .
One handsome stranger
Into their lives comes Ed Nicholls, a man whose life is in chaos, and who is running from a deeply uncertain future. But he has time on his hands. He knows what it's like to be lonely. And he wants to help . . .
One unexpected love story
The One Plus One is a captivating and unconventional romance from Jojo Moyes about two lost souls meeting in the most unlikely circumstances.
I’ll confess I never really took any notice of Jojo Moyes’ work until the publication of THE ONE PLUS ONE. For one reason or another, she simply was never on my radar. Happily I can now say I am the proud owner of several of her books and am more than ready to rectify past mistakes.
THE ONE PLUS ONE centres on the Thomas family. Single mum, Jess works as a cleaner and barmaid and feels like a salmon swimming upstream in her struggle to make ends meet and constantly falling short. Her daughter, Tanzie is a genius at maths but the local comprehensive lacks the resources to really nurture her talent. When she is offered a scholarship to one of the most prestigious schools in the country, Jess can’t believe her luck. When she discovers it is offered on the stipulation that Jess comes up with 10% off the scholarship herself, she comes crashing back to reality with a resounding thump. Added to her woes is stepson Nicky who is constantly running afoul of the local bullies for being just *too* different and is savagely beaten up.
Desperate to protect both her children and give them a proper life, Jess resorts to stealing some money from one of her cleaning clients Ed Nicholls to pay for a trip to Scotland so Tanzie can compete in a maths competition to hopefully win the remaining cash needed. In a quirk of fate, it is Ed who comes to their rescue when their car breaks down and offers to drive them to Scotland. Trying to escape his own woes, Ed finds that this off beat family might just be what he needs to gain some perspective on his life.
One thing I loved about this book was how real the characters were and how easy it was to recognise them and their stories. It was so refreshing and made the characters relate-able. Money struggles and how overwhelming they can be, making a person’s world view seem bleak and panic inducing is a plight recognisable for most people and I loved how strong and resilient Jess was despite however many knock-backs the universe doled out. She was truly an inspiration and her selflessness when it came to her kids was admirable. Ed, at times, drove me crazy with his willingness to bury his head in the sand rather than face up to his problems in particular with regards to his own family. Despite his faults however I did grow fond of him in particular with how he interacted with Jess’s kids especially Nicky.
Road trip books are always a favourite of mine and this was no exception. Being stuck in close quarters means people have no choice but to let their guards down and for Jess this was especially difficult. Watching her slowly thaw and realise that while yes she has major responsibilities and can’t take her eye off the ball she is still a young woman who deserves more out of life and stealing those few precious moments with her kids and Ed instead of moving from one job to the next without taking the time to breathe was heart-warming and emotional.
The book is told by the four main characters and as I listened to this on audio, I felt the narrators did an excellent job of relaying their characters distinctly. At times I felt that Jess and Ed seemed a little *too* old especially when I found out their actual ages but it was a minor complaint.
Overall I found THE ONE PLUS ONE to be a wonderfully warm, character driven novel that will tug on the heartstrings and bring a tear to one’s eye as they lose themselves in this beautifully written book.