This was not the first, nor second book by Jojo Moyes that I have read. As you could expect, my expectations were set high, considering one of the books I read of hers was Me Before You; which is not only a best seller, but was recently transformed into a movie that took the world by storm [trailer here]. The other book I have read of hers was After You which is actually a continuation or after story to Me Before You. If you have yet to read either book, I highly recommend you do. Though this author has written many other books, it seems that One Plus One and Me Before You are two of her books that share a vast amount of similarities. Similarities include the types of lead characters found in the books, their circumstances/ struggles, a unlikely romance, and the setting. One Plus One is set in modern day time, which makes the reading easier as the characters and situations seem far more relatable. There is no doubt that this book would be found in the romance section of a book store; however, I think you could also find it in the women’s fiction and family section. Unlike some books, romance was not at the forefront of the book, more so it was an underlining theme that slowly builds as the chapters go on.
There are two main or lead characters found in this book, Jess and Ed however, though they may be the leads there are two other characters that play a vital and very prominent role in the book, they are Tanzie and Nicky . We start off the book by meeting Ed or Mr. Nicholas, who is a millionaire due to being brilliant with software development and teaming up with his longtime friend to create their own company. Ed as we learn pretty quickly is dealing with a lot of drama; an ex – wife who seems to not understand that his money post-divorce is not hers, a recent breakup from a short lived relationship, family relationship problems, tension between him and his best friend/ business partner, and a big catastrophe at work. Jess Thomas on the other hand, is nothing like Ed. Jess is a single mother of two – Tanzie and Nicky – who works multiple jobs just to make ends meet to provide for her family. Jess, in recent years has gone through a separation from her husband Marty, who is dealing with things and cannot help contribute, leaving Jess to provide for her children, herself, and the family dog Norman. Tanzie and Nicky are the other two main characters in this book. Tanzie, the younger of the two children, is Jess and Marty’s biological daughter, is a math whiz, and gets sick when going too fast in the car. Nicky, Jess’s stepson chooses to dress in black/ dark clothes, wear makeup, smokes, doesn’t sleep much, and tends to come home beaten up as he is bullied.
Each character is unique compared to the others, but that makes them all that much more relatable. As a reader you will either find yourself personally identifying with one or multiple characters or realizing others in your life are similar to the characters in the book. I found myself seeing similarities or relations between myself and all 4 characters. Jess wasn’t necessarily someone I related to in situation, as I am not a single mom. However, I was raised by a single mother, so to some extend I understood her struggles and sacrifices she made for her children as I grew up seeing my own mom do the same – always putting the children first. Growing up I loved math and also have a half sibling, found relating to Tanzie fairly easy when thinking about my childhood. Nicky, reminded me of those teenage years where I dealt with my own struggles and found my own outlets. It was Ed though that I found the hardest to relate to. I have never gone through situations in which he is dealing with regarding marriage and work, however I have like most people dealt with drama or complications within the family so that is where I connected to him. It was not only interesting to find ways in which one could relate to all the different characters in the book, but it was also exciting to see them grow throughout the book.
At the beginning of the book, all the main characters are presented as victims of different circumstances (money struggles, possibility of losing job, bullied, being bored in school, etc). However, by the end of the book, each character has overcome their circumstances that made them feel and seem to be victims and now have power over their own lives and circumstances. I think this is something we can all remember, we are not our circumstance and things can get better. A vast majority of the book was set around an unlikely road trip taken by Ed, Jess, Nicky, Tanzie, and the family dog Norman. This may sound boring to some, however there are obstacles and detours that give more life to the road trip and makes for an interesting read. Throughout this book, the reader is faced with situations that anyone could endure but also Jojo provides many jokes and humorous moments, making for a fun read. There were many times where things happened in the book that I was not expecting which made me want to keep reading, way into the night. I won’t give anything away, but the book ends with an unlikely hero who seems to bring things back together and allows for change to occur.
To me, the story had a strong message of life is messy and unexpected, but just enjoy the ride and things will turn around and get better. I think this is a great message as it is uplifting and its a reminder that we all need every now and then. Though the reader doesn’t find out till about half way through the book, why the title is One Plus One; I have to say, Jojo Moyers did not disappointment. This book might not have been as good as Me Before You, but I think that is just due to this book not being as dramatic – though there was drama – and the circumstances in this book not being life or death related. Something that I truly enjoy about Jojo’s books is that at the end she provides a synopsis for her other books, all of which sounds intriguing. Now I am left to decide, which do I read next?!