2010: 54. One Day

“‘I suppose the import thing is to make some sort of difference,’ she said. ‘You know, actually change something.’”

One Day, David Nicholls

        Bought the book at Barnes & Noble the day after I’d read a review hailing it as the next hot thing (and saying it was also quite good), and being surprised to find out it was actually in paperback already.  And it really is quite good - it has a gimmick - it starts on June 15, 1988, the last day of university for Dex and Emma, who have just met the night before and now are going their separate ways, after a night together.  And then we follow them for that one day for the next twenty years.  Sometimes they are friends, sometimes not, but their lives remain intertwined, and we get snippets of their lives through the snapshots of that day.  It’s gimmicky in theory, but executed pitch-perfectly, so that it seems less like a game, and more like a new way to learn about people.  And Dex and Emma seem like people - real people you might actually know, stumbling through their twenties into their thirties and figuring out who really they are.  So it is a very enjoyable read, and I recommend you read it, especially if you like well written books about regular people and their emotional lives - if you like Nick Hornby, or Ann Patchett (both of whom I adore) you will like One Day.

        Ok, and NOW I am going to say something that is, perhaps, a spoiler.* I mean, I didn’t know this going in, and if I had I would have read the book differently.  But not badly differently, so it’s up to you if you want to keep reading.  The book seems like your basic everyday novel about two people - very much like a Hornby book, in fact.  But without giving away too much, the ending of the book very much changes things - changed my whole perspective of the story.  And I’m not sure if I am a naive reader who was duped by thinking it was one kind of story, when it was actually another, or whether the author pulled the ending out of nowhere.  It’s not a bad ending, not at all, and not a totally crazy book-destroying ending (it’s not like aliens arrive or nuclear war happens or something).  But it is jarring.  Which is probably the point, and I have probably said too much already, but when I think back on reading One Day, my experience is totally shaped by the ending, so I felt like I had to at least allude to it in this review.

Date/Place Completed:  August 2010; D.C.

Categories:  Fiction


*And, actually, Gawker totally spoiled it by running a picture from the set of the film of the book, so maybe it will just seep into pop culture. 

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017