Amy Wilkinson
July 09, 2014 AT 04:00 AM EDT

One Plus One

Current Status
In Season
Jojo Moyes
Pamela Dorman Books

We gave it an A-

Fans of the 2006 summer sleeper hit Little Miss Sunshine will find a lot to love in British author Jojo Moyes’ latest, about a madcap road trip that’s packed to the boot with familial drama, class clashes, and romance.

Jess Thomas is an overworked mother whose husband abandoned the family years before, leaving her to raise their daughter, Tanzie — a number-crunching whiz kid — and his son from a previous relationship, Nicky — a videogame-obsessed loner — on her paltry wages. Yet Jess remains the perpetual optimist, hatching scheme after scheme to stay afloat. To pay Tanzie’s prep-school fees, she enters her daughter in a math olympiad with a huge cash prize. But the contest is hours away in Scotland, and their car dies minutes into the outing. That’s when they get picked up by Ed, whose vacation home Jess has been cleaning.

Admittedly, it’s not too difficult to spot the end of this tale from kilometers away. But like the best road trips, One Plus One is more about the journey than the destination. In Moyes’ deft hands, even a bout of kebab-induced food poisoning is somehow charming. You’ll be rooting for this ragtag group of strivers until the very last page. A-

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