Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Review: One Day

'One Day'
Author: David Nicholls

Format: Paperback
Published: Vintage Books; 2009
Pages: 437
Genre: Literary fiction
Grade: B
Source: Personal copy

Synopsis: The episodic story takes place during a single day each year for two decades in the lives of Dex and Em. Dexter, the louche public school boy, and Emma, the brainy Yorkshire lass, meet the day they graduate from university in 1988 and run circles around one another for the next 20 years. Dex becomes a TV presenter whose life of sex, booze, and drugs spins out of control, while Em dully slogs her way through awful jobs before becoming the author of young adult books. They each take other lovers and spouses, but they cannot really live without each other. 

My Take: I have been seeing this book everywhere and I am sure you have been too! If you haven't already read it than you probably know that there is a movie coming out about it very soon! We are talking mid-August. The reviews I'd been reading made it sound like my kind of book before I even knew there was a movie for it and once there was a movie, I pushed it up my reading schedule and was glad I did. It was quite the emotional read and I think it will play very well as a movie too. 

If you enjoy British fiction and melodramatic books you will enjoy this novel. If you don't this may not be the book for you. The story, while I found it a page turner, and a great summer read, hangs with a kind of sad drama throughout the entirety of it. But I am getting ahead of myself! Let's start at the beginning and set the story up so you know why you'd want to stick with it.

First we have Emma and Dexter, or more affectionately Em and Dex. Two university students who hook up one drunken night. It could have all just ended there as it so often does but instead of the next morning being awkward and weird they decide to go for a walk and get to know each other a little better and a friendship starts instead. Not a love affair, but a friendship. So lives continue and time marches on.

This book, while maybe a little formulaic, is also slightly unusual in that we only see our two main characters once a year for twenty years on the exact same day: July 15th. We see how their lives progress, how they grow and age, both with and without each other. It's fascinating, beautiful, and heart-breaking. You want Dex to get over himself and stop being such a druggie, self indulging classist and you want Em to root for herself a little more, to have some more self-respect and just try a little harder. But eventually they do grow up and their lives ultimately change completely. To say more, would always ruin a book for you.

For me, the one problem with this novel was the fact that I, someone who almost never figures out the ending in a book, knew the ending within the first fifty pages. I hoped it wouldn't be the case but when it was I wasn't surprised. I felt that's exactly what this was building towards the whole time and it was a bit of a letdown. However, I still really enjoyed the book and would certainly recommend it to anyone who asked. I also think it would make a great book for book clubs because it brings up so many interesting points about relationships, and unlike most 'chick-lit' books, this one is based a little more in reality.

Cover Lust: I love this cover! It looks like pop art to me!


  1. Sorry this wasn't right on target for you. Still, it seems like it could be a fun read. I wonder what the movie will be like!

  2. Totally agree that a sad drama permeated this entire book, and I was really disappointed in it. On the surface, it sounded like just the sort of novel I would adore... and I couldn't help but feel like the entire thing was a total letdown. I'm planning to see the movie but felt like the story could have been so much better.

  3. I love how you described it as "hanging with a sad drama." I definitely got that feel within a few chapters, and decided to save it for another time.

    I am still mildly intrigued with the movie, though.

  4. I got the book because I had been seeing it on so many blogs - now I seem to have lost interest in reading it.

    I love British fiction, but not so much of melodrama. One Day seems like a good summer read, even if it's a bit predictable. Thanks for the review!

  5. I am not so sure if I should read this. At first I decided it wasn't for me but then I saw the previews for the movie and became interested in it. Maybe this is one of those books that plays out better as a movie?

  6. I didn't like this one. I think it's because I didn't like them as people. Not sure why really but they didn't do anything for me. I gave up on in after about 60 pages (if that).

  7. Wow how did you figure out the ending? I remember being pretty surprised, like it came out of nowhere. Even though I didn't love thebook, I liked it well enough to look forward to the movie.

  8. Brenna - Well without giving it all away, it was the ominous tone! I knew something bad had to happen at the end and I guessed what it was and darn if I wasn't right!

  9. You guessed the ending? I seem to only guess endings in books others don't and vice versa. Regardless, I'm glad you liked this one! It's one of my favorite reads this year (yep, I never saw the ending coming!)

  10. I actually loved this book. It is one of my favourites. I almost wish I had been like you though, and saw what was coming. I must have been having a naive week or something but it took me by complete suprise! Took me a few days to get over this book!

  11. I do have a gift of knowing what will happen in books and movies so I do not mind being spoiled so to say

  12. Too bad it's somewhat predictable. I'll probably read this next. I want to read it before I see the movie.

  13. Hated Dex for being such a jerk and was mad at Emma for sticking around! Then felt totally manipulated by the ending.

  14. i've been a bit back and forth with this book and i don't know if i should read it or not. i'll probably try to pick up the book and read it before the movie comes out.

  15. I go back and forth on wanting to read this. I guess I just should so I can stop dillydallying over it. 'Course, gotta get it in my hands first and oh yea! I have about 200 books on my shelves waiting patiently which I said once "I can't wait to read!"
    How are you, by the way? The octopus sculpture looks cool. Hope you are having lovely weather. :)

  16. I've been wanting to read this one, but I may see the movie first.

  17. I was surprised by the ending and I think that really enhanced my experience of the book. The twist came just as I was getting tired of all the "cat and mouse" between Dex and Emma. I liked this one and am looking forward to the movie!

    Will you see the movie?

  18. BooksinNYC - Oh yeah, I really want to see the movie! The previews look great!


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