Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math 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 Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages… maybe ever.
When I picked up The One Plus One I expected a quick and funny read. What I did not expect was that I would love the book so much. So far, it’s one of my favorite reads this year!
The story follows multiple characters as they navigate life and their own issues. Jess is a single mom who struggles to make ends meet and provide for her two kids. Her (step) son Nicky is introverted and gets bullied badly. Her daughter is a math prodigy whose potential might go unfulfilled. Then there’s Ed, who makes a bad decision that just might end up ruining his life. Their lives intertwine unexpectedly when they all drive to a Math Olympiad in Scotland.
I haven’t read a book with a similar storyline before and I thought it was a fun and original idea. The story does get a bit over the top or unrealistic at times, but at the same time it contains so many realistic elements too.
The book delves into a wide variety of topics and explores them deeper. Some of those topics include poverty, bullying, divorce, violence and the sense of belonging. Some parts of the story are funny, charming or sweet, while other parts convey sadness. The author is a master at exploring thoughts and feelings. Moreover, she has a really enjoyable writing style that makes it easy to keep flipping the pages.
My favourite thing is without a doubt the characterization. All of the main characters were well-rounded, multidimensional and unique. Their POV’s gave insight into very specific characteristics, flaws, dreams and feelings. As the story progresses, you learn more and more about the characters and see them make mistakes and grow. A lot of attention is also given to the different relationships and dynamics, which makes the entire story so wholesome. I thought that the kids especially were so accurately depicted and well-written. And it’s no secret that I love Nicky to bits.
In the women’s fiction genre, The One Plus One forms a really unique book with all the elements a good book should have. The plot is interesting, the pacing right, it’s both fun and serious and the characterization is really good. I’d really recommend reading it!