Emma and Dexter meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. Tomorrow they must go their separate ways. So where will they be on this one day next year? And the year after that? And every year that follows?
Twenty years, two people, One Day.
Rarely do you find a novel that’s sure to make you laugh, cry, scowl and cheer from start to finish. Usually, there is some kind of ‘general’ emotion spilled over the ragged pages, but nothing that’ll prevent you from sound sleep at night. David Nicholls‘ One Day subverts the obvious through his beautiful use of fragmented memory and realistic characterisation embodying what I perceive as the most important aspect of writing; the ability to convey the normalicity of life. In other words, this is a bloody good book!
At first, the constant moving of time without any proper explanation was quite difficult to grasp; however, once you read the subtle nuances of the chapters, you begin to delve into the lives of these two young graduates who develop a unique type of relationship. It’s as if you’re constantly rooting for the two to ‘hook-up’ while simultaneously hoping they don’t for the sake of their friendship. I found myself identifying with Emma and despising Dexter (he grows on me, though); however, as previously stated, this novel is so realistic! The way the two deal with the antics of day-to-day life with the interruption of loss, rejection and disappointment; themes that are relevant to human behaviour – is astounding! I mean, I found myself staying up until the early hours of the morning reading, anxiously awaiting information about their fate, individually and as a couple. The realistic dialogue also hit accord, allowing a deep and intimate connection between the characters and the reader.
Like art imitating life, there is a major spoiler at the end which I refuse to reveal. It caused a stir of emotions in me, leaving me lying in bed at 3am philosophically thinking about what had just happened and what would happen next. I guess it could be right saying- it had a major effect on me.
For those who have seen the film, it effectively conveys the major themes and events of the novel; however, it does not explore the intricacies and irony of life. The novel feels like a personal journal where you’re silently sitting in a corner watching the unfolding of events as if it were, quite literally, life. No, actually, this novel has a life of its own! Once you finish it, you feel as if you’ve suffered some sort of loss in your life. I mean, you’re following these two individuals from the ages of 22-40, which clearly is a large time-span. You begin to ‘know’ them and ‘trust’ them, as if they were your friends.
So, would I recommend this novel? Yes, Definitely.
The first few chapters may feel a bit stiff and rigid, but trust me, it gets a helluva lot better. I haven’t had a ‘reading experience’ like this for ages, where my life stops, and the characters’ lives continue. Nicholls’ writing is absolutely phenomenal and quite inspirational in portraying a busload of themes in less than 500 pages so articulatly.
There’s only one word to describe this book and it’s ‘perfect’.