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Bookworm: Smelly, sweet and surprisingly satisfying

By Kathleen Duncan
July 21, 2014 at 2:21 a.m.
Updated July 23, 2014 at 2:23 a.m.


Jess Thomas' life isn't exactly ideal. In "One Plus One" by Jojo Moyes, we see this single mother work incredibly hard day in and day out cleaning homes to support her kids. She has to make their clothing by hand, barely scrapes together enough money to pay the bills and has to feed them on every off-brand coupon special from the supermarket she can find.

Despite all their challenges, Jess helps her family keep a positive attitude, always assuring her children that everything will work out in the end.

One day, she receives a call that her daughter Tanzie is so good at math that the prestigious local private school wants to have her attend. Tanzie is excited, and tests highly enough to get in, and the school offers her a large - but not complete - scholarship.

Jess only wants to provide a better future for her daughter but can't afford to send her to the school on their meager income. Right as she's about to give up, a rare and random opportunity arises: a math Olympiad.

If Tanzie triumphs in the competition, she would win enough money for her first year's tuition.

The only problem is getting there.

From here, their true adventure begins. In a sad turn of events, Jess, Tanzie, goth son Nicky and their smelly lovable, dog, Norman, are stranded by the side of the road trying to get to the Olympiad and have given up hope.

They end up being saved by a person whom they least expected: one of Jess' clients whose house she cleans each week.

Ed Nicholls is a software millionaire in serious legal trouble and looking for an escape from his business and personal problems. When he offers to take Jess and her family to the math Olympiad, he signs up for a lot more than he realized.

Between Norman's digestion issues, Tanzie's carsickness, Nicky's school troubles and Jess' determination to always earn her own way, the trip becomes longer, funnier and more touching than one would expect of a simple road trip. It becomes a whirlwind few days that could potentially change everyone's life - in more ways than one.

This novel is an adorable, sweet and humorous adventure in which the unlikeliest of opposites find in each other everything they were looking for and everything they'll ever need.

Kat Duncan is the former photo and video editor at the Advocate. She loves to read, travel, run and play with her pup, Panda. Chat with her about books on Twitter @Kat Duncan_VA.

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