Wednesday, July 30, 2014

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

The Basics:
One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
Contemporary Romance
Published July 1, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

It seemed to be everywhere so I figured I'd better check it out.


One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You

American audiences have fallen in love with Jojo Moyes. Ever since she debuted Stateside she has captivated readers and reviewers alike, and hit the New York Times bestseller list with the word-of-mouth sensation Me Before You. Now, with One Plus One, she’s written another contemporary opposites-attract love story.

Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight in shining armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages . . . maybe ever.

My thoughts:

One Plus One was a complete surprise.

First, that cover is terrible. Awful. It makes me think of sketchy 1970s books, the kind that hint at scandalous sexual conduct or that get very cerebral or that are just plain awful.

This book is none of those things. Instead, it's a charming, heartwrenching tale of a modern family trying to find its legs in an unforgiving world. The Thomas family is headed by Jess, a woman in her mid-twenties, whose husband has left her to deal with his bout of depression. She has a daughter, Tanzie, who's a math genius, and a step-son, Nicky, from one of her husband's previous relationships. Nicky's a little different from the 'norm' (a concept that this book puts pressure on - what *is* normal?), wearing make-up, dressing in black and nicknamed 'Gothboy' by his non-creative father. He's frequently bullied by the small town's resident troublemakers, the Fishers, who cast a gloom over much of the story as a manifestation of the monsters that live under the bed. Monsters who do far more than call out 'boo' in the middle of the night.

Anyways, these three family members, plus Ed Nicholls, a successful software CEO who recently made a very bad decision and is now facing some legal trouble, provide us with the different perspectives in the novel.

I loved each and every one of them!

Jess is optimistic - more out of necessity than any sense that her little family has ever had a round of good luck - and hard-working. Like any parent, she realizes that she has to roll with everything that comes her way to protect and provide for her children, and how she does that is a lot of the forward thrust of this book.

Now, if I had any complaint about One Plus One, it's that by the middle of the book or so, I had to ask how much more the Thomas family could take. They had bad luck followed by more bad luck followed by incredibly hard and unfair realities to face. I wanted nothing more than to give them all a hug and shelter them from whatever awful thing was going to happen on the next page. I definitely cried more than once, usually while reading Nicky and Tanzie's chapters because their trials and tribulations really got to me.

Fortunately there's so much heart in the book that *eventually* all the lows pay off.

The book is written in a light, easy to read style, and I think that a lot of the plot was completely relatable as an example of a modern family's struggle. Certainly the idea that families take all shapes rather than the cookie cutter mom + dad + 2.5 kids is something we should have embraced as a given by now.

Bottom line:

Well worth a read, One Plus One was an immensely satisfying modern not-quite fairy tale. Reminding me a lot of The Rosie Project, I would definitely recommend this to fans of uplifting contemporary tales with a romance bent.

4.5 stars
For fans of The Rosie Project, modern stories, contemporary romance

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