With this book, Jojo Moyes brings her readers a story about a dysfunctional family that have been given more than their fair share of challenges in life. Juggling two jobs and two children (one of which is not hers), Jess is struggling to keep positive when her life is consumed with worry and monetary difficulty; her adopted son and mascara wearing Goth, Nicky, is continually bullied by the terrorising Fisher boys; her daughter, Tanzie, is an extremely talented, glasses wearing, mathematician; and their enormous dog, Norman, seems pretty useless. Each member of the family, who has to make do without the father/husband because he is, well, sorting himself out elsewhere, is instantly likeable and one cannot help but feel attached to this family of good intentions and bad fortune.
Alongside the Thomas family, we are presented with Ed, a man whose outlook and approach to life is wildly different to Jess’. This book makes the example of how much money, and the lack thereof, can effect your life. Ed has a lot of it, but having landed himself in deep trouble with his business, he may not for much longer.
Moyes cleverly changes perspective between the central characters with each chapter so that we can understand certain events from different view points. (Isn’t that something we wish we could do on a daily basis?) The narration cleverly tailors itself to each character, i.e taking on the tone of a quirky eight year old when looking out of Tanzie’s eyes.
Moyes seamlessly intertwines the polaric lives of the Thomas family and business man Ed. Their lives criss cross until, a few chapters in, Ed offers them all a lift up to Scotland, yes all, including Norman the dog, in the hope of Tanzie winning a maths Olympiad and, as a result, the money to pay for a new school in which her geeky tenancies may be a little more accepted.
The story is injected with wit and humour throughout as well as charming touches which tie together the plot and typify the characters… look out for Jess’ flip flop wearing and hair tying. Romance blossoms as their long road trip squeezes our characters together for days, however, as life has often been for Jess and Ed, it is most certainly not simple nor straightforward. But, that wouldn’t make it such an addictive read now, would it?