I first discovered JoJo Moyes last year, when I read her smash hit, Me Before You. I really enjoyed Me Before You and was very excited to read all of her other novels, of which there are many. I've recently joined the review site NetGalley and I was very excited when Viking Press accepted my request to review Moyne's latest novel, One Plus One. Thanks Viking!
Jess is a twenty-something single mom trying to hold it together by working odd-jobs in a seaside resort town in England. Her estranged husband has depression issues and cannot support his children. Jess can barely make ends meet. She has informally adopted, Nick, a child from her husband's former relationship with a drug addict. As an outcast teenager, Nick is routinely beat up by kids in the neighborhood for being different. Her preteen daughter, Tanzie is a socially awkward math wiz, whose teachers have pushed to have her enter a math competition in Scotland. If she wins the competition, there is a huge cash prize which would allow her to attend a fancy private school and change the future for the entire family.
The problem is, they have no way to get to Scotland. Through a series of unlikely circumstances, the family embarks on a crazy road trip, driven by Ed, an owner of one of the luxury houses that Jess cleans. They look at Ed's life and imagine that his money makes him live carefree. What they don't realize is that he is under investigation for insider trading and is about to lose it all.
I loved this story. It's funny, heartfelt and poignant. It reminded me of one of my favorite movies, Little Miss Sunshine, with the quirky family on an unexpected journey. The plot is solid and entertaining, but what Moyes really hits the mark with is her creation of characters that are endearing. Each of the main characters affected me and I really cared about their fates in the story. This novel really got under my skin in a good way. Although plenty of terrible things happen, the overriding emotion that I was left with was one of joy.
One small thing that I noticed, and I can't confirm this without the author or publisher chiming in, is I think some small things were changed for an American audience. My husband is British and one of the funny things that my mother-in-law pointed out when I visited (and when she visits America) is how American TJ Maxx stores are TK Maxx in the UK. In the book, the stores are called TJ. Also, a character refers to potato chips as chips, rather than crisps. They are such minor things, but they popped out at me enough for me to stop and point it out to my husband.
That was a minor nit, because I really loved the story and Moyes is a fantastic writer. As soon as I finished One Plus One, I went to Amazon and purchased a load of her books for my Kindle. I can't get enough.
I highly, highly recommend One Plus One and Moyes as an author to check out.