The One Plus One - Jojo Moyes (2014)

Jess Thomas is a single mother struggling to look after stepson Nicky and daughter Tanzie after her husband and their father left two years ago. Whilst she fights to make ends meet, Nicky and Tanzie struggle to fit in and Nicky finds himself on the end of some vicious bullying. Meanwhile, maths prodigy Tanzie lives in her own world of numbers and has yet to face the mean edge of life, so when she gets the opportunity to attend the prestigious St Anne's school, Jess is determined to get her there. But even with a 90 per cent scholarship, she needs to make up a significant sum for the remaining fee. The answer: a maths Olympiad in Scotland where first prize would cover the fee. So the three are set to make a journey from one end of the country to the other. However, there's the small matter of an uninsured and untaxed vehicle and the fact that Jess' driving skills are a bit rusty. Enter Ed Nicholls. Facing up to a weighty criminal investigation and a terminally ill father, when he sees his cleaner, Jess, and her family pulled over by the police, he steps in and offers to help by driving them to Scotland. But he doesn't quite realise what he's let himself in for. A flatulating dog, a carsick child and endless sandwiches are not quite what he bargained for, but on their mammoth journey Ed seems to need this quirky little family as much as they need him. What an amazing book. I must admit in the opening few pages I wasn't sure it was going to be a story I enjoyed, but from the second chapter, the story engrosses you. Told from the perspective of all four characters, it is a dynamic and stimulating read and these are four completely different, but utterly endearing figures, Tanzie in particular. It is really wonderful that the novel explores such vast and difficult themes, especially bullying, prejudice, feeling out of place and being different. The story is beautiful and moving and really tugs at the heart strings. Completely unmissable. (JC)

The One Plus One, by Jojo Moyes, is about one single mum, one chaotic family and one handsome stranger. The summary says: "Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your stepson is being bullied and your daughter has a once in a lifetime opportunity . . . that you can't afford to pay for. So imagine you kept some money that didn't belong to you, knowing it would pay for your daughter's happiness and in so doing make life a tiny bit more bearable all-round. But how do you cope with the shame? Especially when the man you've lied to decides to help you out in your hour of need . . . Jess is in hell - her family is stranded on a pavement in the middle of the night and Ed is their knight in shining armour. How on earth is she going to make it through their crazy and impromptu road trip without confessing her crime? Is her family's fleeting chance of happiness worth this agonising guilt?" The One Plus One is out from February 2014.

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