Yesterday I finished reading my twelfth book of the month (yes, you read that right – I’ve been reading like a maniac this summer trying to make up for lost time when I was took busy for books, I guess!), One Day, by David Nicholls. While I have yet to taking to recommending novels here, I figured this was a good place to start, since I absolutely loved this book, and in fact am adding it to the short list of books that I refer to as “The Right Time Books” meaning that I read them at exactly the right time in my life that I needed to.
The story is about Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley, and it takes on a When Harry Met Sally quality to it, in that the two met their last day of college and the book spans their relationship over the next twenty years. The novelty is that the story only takes place on one day per year – July 15 – and shows the pair either together or apart. They have remained friends over the years and so are updated on what the other is doing, even though they are not always together on these fateful July fifteenths. The book, at least for me, ran the gamut of emotions from amused to ecstatic to sad. I really fell in love with these characters and wanted to know everything about them. I wanted details of their days, weeks and years when it was not July 15th (but don’t think the author leaves you hanging there, for in each chapter the appropriate background information is provided to understand how the characters have changed throughout the years). It was one of those stories that I never wanted to end, since I felt like I had let myself into these characters’ lives and become emotionally invested.
One of the reviews at the beginning of the book says, “Every reader will fall in love with it. And every writer will wish they had written it” (Tony Parsons). I found this to be completely true on both counts, particularly the second half. If there’s one thing I respect most in this world, it’s a person’s ability to tell a good story, be that a novel or a movie or a play, and I really think that in this book, David Nicholls got everything write, and I can only hope to one day have an idea this great and tell a story this well.
Of course, I saw a lot of myself in the main character, which is why I liked the book even more, I’m sure and why I might be semi-biased and think that everyone should read it. She’s a writer, she’s teaches English and works with the drama department at her school, she doesn’t have a lot of relationships over the years, she takes her homely college self and turns her into a successful, independent adult. I related to Emma Morley on quite a few levels while I was reading and I was rooting for her the entire time. Dexter was not quite as lovable, but I never disliked him, and he certainly does redeem himself on his own journey of “growing up” throughout the novel.
So with that, I highly recommend picking One Day the next time you have a chance. Even if you don’t have quite the strong reaction to it that I had, you certainly won’t be sorry that you read it.