I was sitting on a packed train, maybe two-hundred pages into THE ONE PLUS ONE, when I realised I was grinning from ear-to-ear; the kind of irrepressible smile that occurs only when reading a comedic moment or line of dialogue that’s so true to life, so utterly relatable, you can’t help but react. The next day, another fifty pages in, another packed train, I felt a twinge of sadness as the narrative weaved in an agonizing direction. I wondered whether I could endure another emotional gut punch, and hoped for an upswing in this kooky cast of characters’ fortunes.
That was when I knew: THE ONE PLUS ONE by JoJo Moyes is a potent, immersive story; immensely enjoyable and satisfying, which propels the emotions of the reader – and its characters – in multiple directions, though never exhaustively, demonstrating Moyes’ finesse. The genre is her plaything; she has reached a level that allows her to manipulate it beautifully.
The set-up is pretty standard: Jess is a single mother of two, struggling to make ends meet, who discovers a way to send her daughter to a prestigious school. The catch is, she’s got to get her daughter to Scotland to sit a maths exam and she has no way of getting there. Enter: Ed Nicholls, who, because of a crazy set of circumstances, agrees to transport Jess’s family – including their dog – all the way to Scotland. What ensues is just plain fun. Heart-wrenching in places, genuinely hilarious in others. It’s got all the ingredients to be a guaranteed bestseller, and would rightfully deserve its place on that list.
Genre-defying? Perhaps not. Genre-defining? Absolutely.