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One single mom. One chaotic family. One quirky stranger. One irresistible love story from the New York Times bestselling author of Me Before You.
Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your maths 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 Maths Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages... maybe ever.
One Plus One is told from four POVs – Jess, Ed, Tanzie and Nicky. Entrepreneur Ed is in legal hell due to allegations of insider trading. Jess is a single mom, trying to make ends meet for her daughter and stepson by cleaning houses. Tanzie is a very gifted student and an incredible mathematician who has the opportunity to go to a swanky private school that would nurture her brain if only she can scrounge up the money for it. Nicky is her older half-brother who would love to see her escape their neighbourhood and public school where he’s often picked on and beaten up by the neighbourhood bully. The only connection that Jess has to Ed is that she cleans his house. One day, as he’s driving he sees Jess and her family by the roadside talking to the police. Jess was pulled over (see she’s not supposed to be driving and that car she was driving was a bit of a disaster.) Ed jumps in to offer them a ride to Edinburgh so that Tanzie can make the maths competition. Jess accepts out of sheer desperation and lack of a better option. Ed does it for no other reason than to just do something good in his already messed up life.
It's hard not to love this story that’s paced so well allowing the characters to develop and open up. Everyone starts out with an idea about themselves, what they’ve done with their lives so far and how they fit into the scheme of things. Throughout the course of the book, each character’s perspective is altered. Previous preconceptions are slowly stripped away as they learn about what the other’s reality is. Being with Jess’ family gives Ed a glimpse of what life’s like for a family on a very limited income. One particularly enlightening conversation takes place when Tanzie recounts a list of what a certain amount of money can buy them at the store. Ed is by no means a millionaire but he lives comfortably. The point of that conversation being that he doesn’t have to worry about money every day whereas Jess has to account for every bit of it daily, and choose between which bill takes precedence over the other. Same goes for Jess when she learns of the legal troubles he’s facing. Just goes to show you that you can’t make assumptions about people. Tanzie and Nicky are quieter, offering introspective but illuminating views of the world through their inner monologue.
This is a motley crew of awkward people who come together through fate or coincidence – whatever you’d like to call it. It’s a big risk for these strangers to trust one another and along the journey, they discover more about themselves as they do about each other. There are laughs, tears, ridiculous scenarios and also triumphant moments that’ll warm your heart. One Plus One made a fan out of me, so much so that I immediately bought Moyes’ other book, Me Before You as soon as I was done with it. I really enjoy her writing and how she allows her characters to tell their stories without feeling rushed. If you’re looking for an entertaining summer read that leaves you feeling very content, then add One Plus One to your list.