One Plus One, JoJo Moyes

oneThis author has a gift which is displayed in her books. She cuts right into the heart of the reader, because of rich character development, and plots that progress with what seems to be a deliberate slowness, but they are never boring or tedious as they evolve with interesting twists and turns.
Jess Thomas is married to Marty, a ne’er do well, weak, manipulative man who preys on her compassionate personality. She is responsible, not only for their child, Costanza, a math prodigy who wears clothes handmade by her mom and is thus cornered and ridiculed by bullies, but she also cares for Marty’s child from a former marriage, Nicky, who came to live with her when he was 8 years old and Tanzie was 2. He is a bit of an “oddball” with dyed hair and mascara, dressing in his own fashion style, often calling undue attention to himself. He is a kind child, an independent thinker who marches to the beat of his own drummer, which leads to his attracting bullies, as well, who brazenly physically attack him. Almost a decade after Nicky came to live with his dad and stepmom, his father, Marty, moved out of their home and went to live with his mother, because he could not find work, function normally or emotionally cope with life. He simply ran away from responsibility.
In order to make ends meet, Jess works two jobs, but still barely ekes out a living. She works in a public house called Feathers, and she also works in a housecleaning business with her friend Nathalie. Together they work in a well-to-do community. One of their clients, Ed Nicholls, is a man who is going through some serious troubles of his own. The owner of a software company, he has made some irrational decisions which threaten his future and jeopardize his ability to continue to work. In a way, both he and Jess are suffering from similar problems; their work is the issue. One didn’t have enough to get by, and one didn’t appreciate what work did for him or any of the comforts it provided. Jess took nothing for granted, while he arrogantly expected to have it all.
Ed and Jess come from two different worlds, separated by class and income. Jess lives in a poor community. Her children are bullied because they are different, and the bullying is ignored because it is commonplace. The community is afraid of the bullies so they do not speak out until a tragedy occurs, forcing them to face their own silence and complicity in the events. Both Ed and Jess have made foolish choices out of desperation, Ed to rid himself of a woman who has become somewhat of a stalker, and Jess because she can get no help from her husband or his family to provide a better, safer life for her children. Still, they made imprudent decisions which carry serious consequences, and both risk being charged for criminal activities.
In an unlikely series of events, their worlds collide, and they become involved in each other’s lives as they pursue the common goal of helping Tanzie gain a place at St. Anne’s, a private school that is willing to provide her with a sizable scholarship, because she is so gifted in math. It is with this in mind that Jess decides that Tanzie should enter the Math Olympiad. Jess is hoping that if Tanzie wins, the prize money will be enough to enable her to see her way clear to send her to St. Anne’s. Unfortunately, when Tanzie sits for the exam, she also learns that bullies go to private schools and sit for scholarships too.
There is stupid sex and foul language which was completely unnecessary and crude. The book did not need that to keep the reader interested, and actually, it made the book seem less “important” and more like a beach read, without much of a message. Yet the interpersonal relationships, personal responsibility and moral values examined, as well as fidelity and honesty, were far more important themes than the use of that “f” word or the sexual innuendos. The story is all the more interesting because it is more than a romance, more than a lesson on integrity, and more than an investigation of wrongdoing in its many forms. Through each of the character’s perspectives, (making it hard, sometimes, to know who is actually the narrator), the reader gains insight into what drives them to behave the way they do, regardless of the possible outcomes. Someone once told me that when you are desperate, you are allowed to do whatever is necessary, but that is very poor reasoning. Jess and Ed have to learn that lesson on their own.
There were times when I absolutely disliked Jess because she made decisions that were irrational and not well thought out and often seemed ungrateful and rude. Ed inspired the same negative feelings, because he too was rude and very arrogant in his behavior toward those who had fewer advantages than he did. Both had unsuccessful relationships and were easily duped by others which actually influenced them to make unwise decisions.
My favorite character was Norman, a great big, slobbering and lumbering hunk of a dog, loyal and grateful for the life they provided him when they rescued him after Marty abandoned them. My next favorites were Nicky and Tanzie. Sometimes, these children and the dog were the adults in the room!

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About omasvoice

Who am I? I am you. I am everyone out there who loves to read and discuss and voice an opinion!
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Books for Adults, Fiction. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to One Plus One, JoJo Moyes

  1. JoAnn says:

    despite its flaws, I liked this book. Have you read others by her?

  2. omasvoice says:

    I read “Me Before You” which was a good book for a discussion group.

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