Jess is a single mother, working two jobs, and struggling to earn enough money to raise her two children. Despite her difficult circumstances she is relentlessly optimistic and honest to a fault. But when she finds £500 belonging to Ed, a company director whose house she cleans, she finds the temptation too difficult to resist and pockets the money.
Nicky was abandoned by his father and mother and despite not being related by blood finds a mother in Jess. But despite her relentless optimism, there are some things she can’t solve, and as the target of town bullies he struggles with depression and withdraws into himself.
Tanzie is a math prodigy and desperately wants to attend St Mary’s Private School where her talents will be nurtured, but despite receiving a generous scholarship money is still tight and they desperately need to find a way to make up the difference.
When Jess hears about a math olympiad with a prize of £5000 she sees an answer to their problems. She will solve Tanzie’s problem and get Nicky out of town and the bullies for a while. But before they have even left town, they are pulled over by police and she finds herself in even more hot water for driving an unregistered and uninsured car.
Then Ed steps in.
Ed is a founding director of a software company, but he has been suspended from work and is being investigated by police for insider trading. Everything he has built is crashing down around him but then he sees Jess who has nothing but still manages to be optimistic and he decides to help.
As they all cram into his Audi, along with the dog, they begin the road journey to end all road journeys. Travelling to Scotland by back roads because Tanzie gets violently ill if the car exceeds 40mph. As they travel they manage to forget their problems and Ed finds in this odd-ball family a place where he manages to fit in. But as their time on the road draws to its conclusion all their problems come crashing back in on them and it becomes apparent that a happy ending might not be possible for them.
There is a beautiful ache to The One Plus One. At times it makes you want to cry for this family who do everything right but still get beaten down. It’s sad and beautiful, ultimately life affirming and just a really beautiful book. Highly recommended.
Yellow, Orange, Red –– what it means: http://wp.me/P2B7b5-9l