First, let me say — I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “she just got done reading a deeply moving and profoundly depressing, though masterfully written book and moved right on to a story that was made into a romantic film.” You’re also thinking, “damn girl, lay off the adjectives.” But the truth is, I just can’t help myself. This book make me adjective-crazy — in a good way. If you haven’t seen this film or read this book, you have no idea. And while I must admit that I’m a huge fan of films, the book — as is typical — is better.
This is not to decry the cinematography, direction, sound production, editing or the acting of the film. There’s simply much more to the tale of Em and Dex, Dex and Em than can fit into a screen adaptation. And I’m telling you, it’s worth the read.
But if you have read the book or seen the film, my apologies, I was a little late coming to this story.
Did I laugh? Why yes, in fact I did. Did I cry? I shamelessly admit that I both bawled and blubbered. Do I think you should read this book? Yes. Of course I do. That’s why I’m writing this post.
“One Day” is the story about how we can both madly love and severely dislike the person with whom we’re meant to be, especially if they enter our lives at a stage we deem too early. It’s about denial of the inevitable, until it’s nearly too late — or worse yet — it is too late. David Nicholls has crafted a story of caution, with fantastic asides of humor and whimsy throughout. I found myself so in line with the characters, I felt as though I wanted to call them up on the phone, or reach across the café table to shake some sense into them.
I read this book with a sharpened pencil at the ready in the hopes of outlining passages to share, but my copy ended up penciled over, thoughts and musings scattered throughout. Nicholls has mastered the difficult task of writing from both the male and female perspectives in a manner that is believable. In fact, his Emma is incredibly recognizable — you can find her in any group of girlfriends.
At twenty-seven, Emma wonders if she’s getting old. She used to pride herself on her refusal to see two sides of an argument, but increasingly she accepts that issues are more ambiguous and complicated than she once thought.
With Emma, we see a young woman full of hopes and plans for the future who quickly becomes disappointed with her less-than-successful career post-college.
She wondered if she was doomed to be one of those people who spend their lives trying things.
It takes time, but Emma comes through on her own. And with Dexter, who has forever found himself in one relationship after another, the prospect of being alone is something altogether foreign. It takes Dexter some time to mature too.
He wanted to live life in such a way that if a photograph were taken at random, it would be a cool photograph.
And while Emma longs for change, it is Dexter who never wishes for anything to evolve.
For the first time in many years he is more or less where he wants to be…He does alright. Everything will be fine, just as long as nothing ever changes.
As the years progress, the reader catches up with the progression too of the relationship between Emma and Dexter each year on July 15th, St. Swithin’s Day, as the two have promised from the first night their friendship is cemented.
There was a moment’s silence, comfortable and affectionate, as they looked around the lawn at old friends talking and laughing in the late afternoon sun.
More than a story of romance, this is the story of a friendship that has been both tested and ruined, then pieced together — any missing pieces merely allowing for greater flexibility.
Without giving away the details — this is absolutely the kind of book in which the ending can be ruined — I will say this, the journey and development of these characters is something any person post-college and beyond can relate to, and I encourage you to give it a go.
Perhaps the only thing that bothers me a bit about this book is that the characters are so relatable and believable, that I often forgot to pay homage to the author himself.
She began walking again, south towards The Mound. “Live each day as if it’s your last,” that was the conventional advice, but really, who had the energy for that? What if it rained or you felt a bit glandy? It just wasn’t practical. Better by far to simply try and be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your electric typewriter and work hard at . . . something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and fully and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance.
To those of my friends who have previously expressed that you simply cannot learn from fiction, I welcome you to argue that case against Nicholls’ work.