Before reading, we are given some fairly big clues about where this book is heading. We’re told that single parent Jess Thomas is an eternal optimist, but her daily struggles are taking their toll. Dealing with a teenage stepson who is being bullied and a young daughter who has a chance to escape their environment because of her affinity with numbers is getting harder.
A chance encounter with Ed Nicholls, a man who has his own struggles, results in what can only be described as a somewhat crazy road trip as they try to journey to Aberdeen to allow Tanzie to take part in a maths competition.
I don’t want to give anything away to do with how this all comes about, but it really took me by surprise. The characters are warmly portrayed, and I was rooting for certain events to take place throughout the story. There are some laugh out loud moments throughout the story – but there are also more than one or two moments that had me wiping my eyes.
There were so many things that I loved about this book: the way both main characters slowly thawed as they learned to trust each other; the children and their rather eccentric outlook on life; Norman the dog, who really comes into his own later in the book, and the general sense of optimism that abounds throughout.
It is not a criticism to say that, to a large extent, I got what I expected from this book. I also got a lot more than I expected. Captivating!