One Day by David Nicholls was the read for my book club in November and once again I was pushed to read a book I normally wouldn’t have picked up which is why I joined in the first place.
One Day by David Nicholls
I had a really hard time summarizing this one so here is the Amazon version:
It’s 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day—July 15th—of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself.
Every book has to have a unique draw whether it’s a controversial topic, a clever twist or an interesting plot device – I get that. The danger though, is that it’s so easy to go from interesting to gimmicky if the author isn’t careful. For me this is what happened in One Day: Nicholls took a potentially clever idea and let it become lame. At first I found the concept of checking in one day a year intriguing but after a few chapters I started to feel like Nicholls was just lazy and had created a way to start complicated situations but not have to follow through with an ending because it magically resolved during the part of the year we weren’t privy to (Dexter’s mother’s death is a good example of this). It also seemed like everytime I was pulled into the story and interested in what would happen next the chapter would end and I’d be jarred into the next year. The first couple times it happened I chalked it up to being part of the plot device but in the subsequent chapters I started to become more detached as I knew anything that was really interesting would be cut off and may not even pick up the following year.
When you’re writing a book solely about the lives of two characters you should probably at least make them tolerable if not likeable. Emma and Dexter just confused me, neither of them felt like fully developed characters and the beginning of their relationship did not seem to justify the level of friendship they maintained. I really, really disliked Dexter, to the point where it was distracting to the story. I was highly tempted to not read the chapters where Dexter’s life was examined as they became redundant and obnoxious. I mean how many scenes of him drinking copiously, sleeping with random women and treating Emma like crap do I need to realize he’s a jerk? Just one I think. Although Emma and I are very similar (more on that in a blog to come) I found that even she was hard to like. When she wasn’t complaining about every single thing in her life she was throwing herself at Dexter or being a doormat for the various men in her life.
2.5/5 Overall I think the book had potential but fell flat. I’ve heard the movie is better so I’d probably recommend saving the time it takes to read the book to just watch the film.
Have you read One Day? What did you think?