Oops, I seem to be falling a little behind in my reviews. The book I’m focusing on today is one that I finished a couple of weeks ago, but don’t think I haven’t gotten around to it because it’s not good. The book, One Day, by David Nicholls, is one of the most original books I’ve read in a while.

The premise is pretty simple: each chapter is one day in the lives of the two main characters, Dexter and Emma. The chapters take place on the same day, July 15, but each chapter takes place on the next successive year of their lives, beginning when they are fresh out of college. As you can probably guess by the fact that there are a male and female lead and it focuses intensely on their lives and relationship, it is somewhat of a love story. But it’s not a sappy, saccharine-drenched romance; One Day is brutally honest about feelings and missed chances, suppressed longings and things unsaid.

For most of the book, the two main characters are not actually in love. The plot hovers on their relationship with each other briefly in each chapter, but also on their relationships– intimate, friendly, and familial– with the other people in their lives. Nicholls writes about the problems they face, such as alcoholism, loneliness, and grief in an unflinching voice. I appreciated how candidly these issues were discussed and how realistic the characters’ struggles were. The challenges that they face in the novel are unexpected and sometimes brutal, which I found to be very true to life.

The back of the book says something along the lines of as the true meaning of this one day is revealed… and so of course I found myself wondering throughout the majority of the novel what the significance of the day truly was. My guess from the beginning, that he had accidentally gotten her pregnant and they had a child together whom she gave up for adoption, wasn’t even close to what it really was. I won’t spoil it because I feel that the unpredictability of the novel is at the heart of its interest. While I was a bit distracted trying to take a stab at the meaning of July 15, I found this novel very engaging. I really got sucked into the characters’ lives, and I rooted for Emma in particular since she came from humble beginnings and worked her way to a successful life. I laughed, I cringed, I cried, and I feel like I want to just call up these characters for a chat now.

Bottom line: Both heart-breaking and life-affirming. Solid.

P.S.- It’s after midnight right now, so it’s officially my birthday! 😀  Here’s to another great year of reading!

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