Reviewed by Rachel Mann
One Plus One is the first Jojo Moyes book I’ve read, and to borrow a cliché, it absolutely won’t be the last. This book is entertaining, well written, and captivating. It would fit perfectly on a shelf alongside books by Maeve Binchy or Marian Keyes. If you enjoy reading about characters from different walks of life that connect in unusual ways or spending time on vivid portrayals of specific small-town lives in the UK, then you’ll probably like One Plus One, too.
The book kicks off with a bang as we meet one of the main characters, Ed, who has stumbled into some legal and financial problems. Soon after come other characters with problems of their own: Jess, a young mother and house cleaner/bartender/odd jobber, and her two unique children, her stepson, Nicky, and her daughter, Tanzie. Nicky and Tanzie’s father is almost non-existent in their lives, which has left his ex-wife and children all facing various dilemmas. Nicky is a mascara-wearing misunderstood teen whose kindness doesn’t save him from neighborhood bullying; his younger sister, Tanzie, is a child prodigy with a gift for mathematics struggling to attend a once-in-a-lifetime scholarly Olympiad. (The three also have a giant dog, Norman, who’s got a personality as big as his size.)
The book’s third-person narrative shifts among these four protagonists as their paths come together and they become involved in each other’s lives. Each character’s voice is believable and distinct. I found myself rooting for and empathizing with each of them in turn. It’s hard to decide who is the most interesting, brave, or troubled: Ed, Jess, Nicky, and Tanzie all have their own troubles to bear and tough decisions to make. What’s more, their emotional responses to their dilemmas—and their actions—seem so real.
Moyes’ book took me totally out of myself. I was hooked from the first page, when my stomach sank with sympathy for Ed, and I tore through the rest of the story. I felt for each of these people and cried for them—and I was sorry to leave them behind at the end.
I can’t believe it’s taken this long to start reading Moyes’ work. I’m thrilled to have discovered her books, and I’ll be reading another as soon as possible.
Rachel, who has a Ph.D. in English, is a freelance writer/editor and a voracious reader. You can talk to her about books at http://twitter.com/writehandmann.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Viking Adult. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.