I absolutely loved Jojo Moyes’s Me Before You and have been eager to read more of her work, but a lot of her previous novels seem to be more historical romance and I’m much more partial to contemporary romance, so when I saw One Plus One was coming out I was thrilled. It took me forever to finally read it, but I enjoyed it much like I expected to.
Jess is a single mom of two, struggling to make ends meet and working all the time to do so. Her daughter, Tanzie, is a math genius who is offered a spot at a prestigious private school and a 90% scholarship. Problem is, Jess can’t afford the remaining 10%. But Tanzie’s math teacher has an idea. Tanzie can enter a math competition in Scotland where, if she wins, the cash prize could help cover the remaining expenses of private school. On a lark, Jess and her kids set out in their hooptie Rolls Royce, only to end up on the side of the road a few miles outside of town.
Ed is a successful software entrepreneur who is being investigated for insider trading. He’s been holed up in his summer home and has run into Jess a time or two in her capacity as housekeeper and bartender. When he sees her stranded on the side of the road, he pulls over. And he wants to do something to help, something to take his mind off the selfish stupidity in the rest of his life. So he offers to drive Jess and her kids and their smelly old dog to the math competition.
Over the course of the road trip, Jess and Ed break down the barriers between them, namely the huge class difference between them. And an attraction develops. But both their lives are in complete disarray, making it hard for them to build a relationship together.
This book had a lot in common with Me Before You. Both feature a young working class woman who doesn’t see any way out of her present situation, but with a bright outlook on life and a slightly older wealthy man with big problems who really benefits from seeing how the other half lives and getting a healthy dose of optimism. But this one is more of a romance. And Me Before You dealt with a much heavier subject matter. Unfortunately, the similarities between the two books made it impossible not to measure them against one another. And while One Plus One was just as addicting and just as full of interesting and real characters, because its subject matter wasn’t as heavy or life-or-death it felt a little fluffy in comparison. I know Moyes can do something heavier and deeper and more impactful, so it was slightly disappointing to not get that here.
All that said, I enjoyed this story and would recommend it to chick lit fans. Moyes constructs some really endearing characters who are facing real struggles, but who persevere nonetheless. But if you’ve read Me Before You, come at this with different expectations, as it does not carry the same emotional weight.