Author: Jojo Moyes
Provided Synopsis: Suppose your life sucks. A lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. That’s Jess’s life in a nutshell—until an unexpected knight-in-shining-armor offers to rescue them. Only Jess’s knight turns out to be Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home she happens to clean. But Ed has big problems of his own, and driving the dysfunctional family to the Math Olympiad feels like his first unselfish act in ages … maybe ever.
Review: Jess Thomas desperately needs life to offer her a break. Two years ago her husband left home to live with his mother; he left his wife with two children: one of who is theirs together and the other who is his from a previous relationship. Their son, Nicky, is bullied at school and by those who live in their neighborhood because he is different. Their daughter, Tanzie, is a math genius who has been offered a place at a private school if Jess can squeeze together the money to send her. Money is always an obstacle to overcome for Jess, which is in direct contrast to Ed, who is the founder of a software company and who has just recently been hit with misfortunes of his own. Initially, the only connection between Jess and Ed is that she cleans his beach resort home. But one night, Ed encounters Jess on the side of the road with her two kids, trying to get to Scotland so Tanzie can compete in a math competition to fund her private school tuition. A road-trip ensues. Oh, and you cannot forget the dog.
At first, I was completely engrossed within this story. The chapters sporadically alternate amongst Jess, Ed, Tanzie, and Nicky. All four of them were great characters with plenty in their lives to overcome. I felt as if I was squished in the car with them as they were forced to take the back roads all the way up to Scotland due to somebody’s carsickness if you travel over 40 mph. I could laugh every time Norman (the dog) whined, or farted, or drooled all over seats and people. A man who is practically strangers to this family of three (or four, if you want include Norman) manage to have the road-trip of a lifetime together with plenty of hilarious mishaps whilst they help one another. It was great.
And then it jumped the shark. Don’t get me wrong, I knew this story would have a romance in it between Jess and Ed but the way it came about seemed unauthentic. It was sudden, and it did not seem to be real to me at all. Also, about the same time that the romance heated up there were other things happening that expanded the story from its compact form to encompass more than could be resolved in the time allowed. In a way I feel as if I am doing an awful job of communicating this point to you without offering spoilers, but I just wanted potential readers to know that this story did not run as smoothly as other stories by this author have.
The conclusion was enjoyable, and as a whole I would consider this story to be a good one. It was an interesting read with some great characters and plenty of hilarious moments. Will it go down as my favorite story by Jojo Moyes? Nope. But it is hard to beat the perfection that was Me Before You.