That Jojo Moyes knows how to tell a story.
I read Moyes’ runaway hit, Me Before You, last year and really enjoyed it. It had surprising heft to it, yet was readable and entertaining. I’ve gotten a few of her subsequent books, and decided to give her latest, One Plus One, a try this month. I was concerned from the description that it was going to be like “Little Miss Sunshine”, which I didn’t love, but was pleasantly surprised to learn that it wasn’t at all.
In One Plus One, Moyes creates another down-on-her luck heroine, Jess, who is trying to support herself and her two offbeat kids with low paying jobs that never let her make ends meet. Her son (who is not even really her son) dresses Goth and doesn’t fit in, and has just gotten beaten up by the bullies at school. Her 9 year-old daughter Tanzie is a math genius who also doesn’t fit in. Tanzie has been offered a generous scholarship to a fancy private school, but Jess can’t afford the fees. When the school encourages her to take Tanzie to a Math Olympiad taking place in Scotland (many hours away), she’s desperate enough to try to get there in the hopes of Tanzie winning the contest and putting her winnings toward tuition.
Enter the love interest. Ed, a wealthy software entrepreneur facing an insider trading charge, owns a beach home that Jess cleans. Ed and Jess cross paths a few times, and each time he makes a terrible impression on her. Then he comes across Jess and her kids broken down on the road en route to Scotland. He impulsively agrees to drive them himself… and the subsequent road trip that forms the heart of One Plus One kicks off.
I loved the characters in One Plus One. Each chapter alternates with a different narrator so the reader gets to know each of them. Like Me Before You, the pacing is perfect. There are some unexpected twists (though there are also some Hollywood screenplay predictable moments). The relationships evolve at a natural pace and never feel forced or rushed. No one is perfect, but you can’t help rooting for them to get their happy ending.
One Plus One is an entertaining, satisfying read. I experienced it on audio, which was perfect. Narrators were spot on, accents were delightfully British, and I loved the shifting perspectives. I recommend the audio.