Title: One Plus One
Author: Jojo Moyes
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Viking / Pamela Dorman Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Jess is a single mother to a daughter and stepson, working hard to try and make ends meet. Her daughter, Tenzie, is very gifted in math and is offered a scholarship and a spot at a prestigious private school; Jess wants so badly for Tenzie to be able to attend, but she doesn’t know where she’s going to get the money for the part of the tuition the scholarship doesn’t cover. Tenzie’s teacher provides the answer: a competition in Scotland, the prize money of which would be more than enough to cover the fees. After a mishap with the car she barely knows how to drive, Jess ends up accepting an offer from Ed, the millionaire whose house she cleans, to drive them up to Scotland to make Tenzie’s dreams come true.
One Plus One is a book that takes time to come together, but once it does, the wonderful characters really draw you in.
I’m a huge fan of Jojo Moyes, but I’m afraid none of her books will ever live up to the gorgeous and heartbreaking Me Before You, so it’s always with a slight bit of anxiety that I pick up her books. While I wasn’t exactly entranced by the plot description of her latest, One Plus One, I knew (hoped?) that it would be entertaining regardless. And I’ll admit it, for the first part of the book, I wasn’t exactly hooked. It was sweet and amusing, but I didn’t really feel that spark that usually accompanies a Moyes novel. But I’m glad I stuck with it, because about halfway through, I finally fell in love with this spunky novel.
Jess is a great character at the center of One Plus One, a young woman with a lot of heart who just can’t seem to catch a break. She works so hard for her daughter and stepson, to provide for them, protect them, and give them the opportunities they deserve. But even working two jobs, she can’t seem to make ends meet. It’s heartbreaking, but well-written. Moyes never makes the reader pity Jess; they sympathize with her and root for her, but it’s always a warm, positive emotion, rather than feeling sorry for her.
Indeed, it’s the characters that make One Plus One the wonderful read that it is. Both major and minor characters are so wholly conceived of and expertly drawn that they leap off the page. It’s really wonderful to experience a Jojo Moyes novel because of this (and notice I say experience, rather than read, because that’s what it is). It’s so great to get to know these people, to let them into your life as you’re immersed in theirs. One Plus One in particular is a bit of a comedy of errors, with laughable circumstances and occurrences on every page, but what makes it so amusing is that you legitimately care about these characters and can imagine them in these situations.
One Plus One has a bit of a fairy tale ending; it’s certainly predictable, but that doesn’t really detract from the book. The magic in this book is the journey, not where it ends up. Plus, despite the fact that you know what’s going to happen, Jess & Co. aren’t magically saved and everything isn’t perfect; Moyes injects enough realism in the book for it to be satisfying. This was really a great read, and I’m so glad it came together for me and I stuck with it, putting my faith in Jojo Moyes’ ability to move me.
Other books by Jojo Moyes: