What if you could trace back through the memories of your most important relationship by only looking at one day each year from the beginning to the end? David Nicholls’ One Day does just that, following the lives of Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew and where they are exactly on July 15th every year for twenty years.
Nicholls’ writing style took some getting used to. In fact, I put the book down after one chapter. I left it for about one month, and decided to pick it up again after another fight with Lolita. And all of a sudden, it was a breath of fresh air. My coworker was reading it as well, which made it more fun to read. Once I was in, I was in.
Both characters navigate through their twenties and thirties, never entirely happy, and only barely admitting their feelings to one another. It’s clear that these two would be most happy together, so what’s stopping them? Virtually every situation. Other relationships, terrible jobs, alcohol (mostly Dexter), and a huge amount of pride. Until one day, there they are, in front of each other, realizing that the timing is now perfect.
Nicholls is a pretty realistic writer. He accurately describes those feelings of playing the “Will she or won’t she? game.” He also doesn’t use too much kitsch in the significance of July 15th. OF course, not everything in Emma and Dexter’s life together occurs on that day. Nicholls acknowledges the whole year, the whole transformation from the year before. Sometimes, there is huge growth for the characters, and sometimes, there is little difference at all. By the end, you’ve gone through a huge emotional love story. And life goes on.