JoJo Moyes has so quickly written her way into a special place in my heart. When there’s a movie I want to see that is based off of a book, I get an insatiable desire to get my hands on the print version and start to read. I could have passed Me Before You 100 times on the bookshelf at Barnes and Nobles, but as soon as I see a trailer ending with “Based on the novel by…” I just lose it. Needless to say my love for JoJo Moyes books started with Me Before You, grew in After You, and completely solidified with One Plus One.
A clever title for the work of fiction about a single, hard-working mom of two kids and an old, smelly dog. Jess is working as a housecleaner and bartender struggling to make ends meet after her husband left, while her children are struggling to survive in a harsh public school. Her stepson Nicky has been with her since he was a boy, after her husband’s first wife dropped him off on their doorstep. She’s taken in Nicky as her own and even though his biological father is not around, Jess takes care of him and struggles with the realization that she can’t protect him against the high school bullies who consistently torture him. Her youngest daughter Tanzie is astoundingly gifted and excels at all of her math work, but is plagued by the confines of a public school education she’s long outgrew.
“Life was a series of obstacles that just had to be negotiated.”
When the opportunity for Tanzie to win a scholarship at a math competition in Scotland appears, Jess is desperate to find a way to get from London to Scotland for her youngest to compete and win the scholarship money. The only problem? Jess has no money, no car of her own, no car insurance and no driver’s license.
Enter Ed Nicholls. He was trying to get out of a bad relationship by helping an ex off his feet. While he was trying to get freedom, he winds up getting the opposite – an investigation by the FBI for insider trading that turns life as he knows it upside down. The company he worked so hard to build was crumbling at his feet, while his father’s health plummets in a hospital across the country.
“She was always tired, these days. She just put on one of those smiles that wasn’t really a smile at all, and they went on.”
A twisted turn of events leads Ed to finding his housekeeper Jess stranded on the side of the road with her kids and dogs and offers them a ride. What follows is a comedic road trip between a businessman, two wacky kids, an old dog, and a mom just trying to prove to her kids “it’ll all work out.”
The road trip is a story of perseverance – how desperate times can call for desperate measures, how one person can pull you out of life’s challenges, and how our mistakes can shape your future. Between a slow-moving ride down country roads, bouts of food poisoning and traffic that threatens to make them miss the math competition, there is a tale of two people trying to do the best they can with the situations they are currently in, and realizing the other may just be exactly what’s been missing from their lives all this time. Adding one plus one though isn’t always that simple – as a person’s baggage can alter the equation; and both have done things that are unforgivable.
With One Plus One, you’ll feel every emotion on the spectrum – hopeful, disheartened, joyful and at times broken and cursing the unfair world. But JoJo Moyes has a way of telling a story with humor and wit that keeps the pages turning. Her characters have depth and dimensions that make them pop right off the page and feel like long-time friends. If you want a story that will keep you thoroughly entertained on every page, I suggest you pick up One Plus One (or any JoJo Moyes novel to be honest!).