Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I've been reading reviews for One Day by David Nicholls for months and I've passed by the book several times in bookstores. The premise intrigued me but I've read the unimpressive Starter for Ten by the same author and I thought this would be another disappointing read. How wrong I was! After reading more rave reviews, I decided to finally purchase the book.
Dex and Em. Em and Dex. They meet on the night of their college graduation in 1988. They're made for each other but they don't know it yet. Life calls them to different places and different things. But their obvious connection to one another stays and for the next twenty years we get a snapshot of their lives on the same day every year, July 15th.
Once in a while a book comes along that makes me cry. I can probably count on one hand how many books have had this effect on me and right now I can only recall one, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. Curiously enough, The Kite Runner didn't even have a sad ending, it was actually happy and promising. I never expected to have this reaction with One Day but I just bawled when I reached the last page and the page after the acknowledgements where Nicholls quoted a line from the book. This is a beautiful novel and I'm absolutely sure it will make my top ten of the year.
It's hard to believe a writer can pull off this kind of structure but Nicholls managed it and he did it just perfectly. Although we only see a day in a year of Dexter and Emma's lives, we get a good picture of what they've been up to since the last time we saw them. We get emotionally involved with them and learn to love them, imperfections and all. This is the kind of book where you think you know how it will all end but you don't care. It's the journey that matters. How will it reach that ending? In spite of what you expect, Nicholls does manage to throw in some surprises here and there. This is a wonderful, engaging and ultimately very moving novel. Please read it and when you've finished it, pass it on to a friend. It's that kind of book.
"Live each day as if it's our last', that was the conventional advice, but really who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn't practical. Better by far to simply try and be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your electric typewriter and work hard at...something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance."