One Day by David Nicholls

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One Day by David Nicholls

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Owen O'Hagan
Reviewed by Owen O'Hagan
Summary: One Day is a truly engrossing book. The concept allows the reader to fully invest in the story and relationship of these two characters, and will leave you feeling like you've been there through every moment.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 448 Date: June 2009
Publisher: Hodder
ISBN: 978-0340896969

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A Times Educational Supplement Teachers' Top 100 Book

I knew within the first ten pages that I was going to love One Day. It is the only book that has kept me up at night, distracted me throughout the day and woken me up early in the morning. I couldn't put it down, and didn't want to either. I have always found it difficult to settle on a favourite type of story, or even a specific genre that I like, but this novel made me realise that what I want in a book is realism. As Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley enjoyed their late night conversation in the opening moments of the book, Nicholls pulled me into his world.

After graduation, Dexter and Emma go their separate ways. Throughout the next twenty years, they come in and out of each other's lives, for the better and the worse. The concept of following these characters on the same day each year is one that makes me often scream out in jealousy. I've thought so many times since reading it, that I wish I came up with the concept before Nicholls. Why? It works so effortlessly. Anything can happen in a year, and this works to Nicholls's extreme advantage. Throughout, I tried to guess where both characters would be when the next chapter began. I constantly thought about what they might have been through between the gaps of the story. I was engrossed until the very finish. Some readers may find it confusing, or even jarring to have such large time jumps, but once you get into the story, you won't even think twice about it.

Relationships are funny things in books, films and TV shows alike. It's a mighty task for someone to create one that's believable, and develops naturally. One Day nails this. The first chapter makes you believe in their friendship. Their effortless banter gives them wonderful chemistry; you know they will have an impact on each other's lives. I found myself waiting for the times when the characters came together because of this engaging dynamic between them. Despite the challenges they faced, together and alone, I was always rooting for them, as friends and as lovers.

While the story is about their relationship, it stays true to life, and they are separate for much of the book's contents. The two characters stand on their own two feet and are memorable in their own way. Dexter should be a horrible character, and I probably shouldn't like him, but I do. He makes mistakes, but as each year passes by, you see growth in his character and you slowly fall in love with him. The same can be said for his counterpart, Emma. She's a strong-minded young woman, who is driven and determined. Her life is never easy, and her love for Dexter isn't always encouraging, but you understand her every choice and decision.

What's so clever about the narrative is that the character's points of view reveal different things to you. Dexter might have one perspective of a situation, while Emma gives the reader a completely different take on the same event. This is where Nicholls excels at using his comedic abilities; the book is, at times, incredibly witty. I think it's always great to have a smile on your face when you're reading, which I had countless times throughout.

The book was impossible to put down. As a chapter would end, I'd be dying to know where they'd be in the following year. I kept reading and did this until I reached the book's heart-throbbing and poignant conclusion. The feature film of the same title doesn't do the novel justice. It just about captures the life and honesty of the book, and I'd urge you to read this before you decide to watch it. You won't regret it.

One Day isn't just a romance novel. It's full of charm, wit and vivid characters that you will get to know, and learn to love. I oppose anyone who claims it to be anything less than it is. I felt inspired by it, and hopefully you will too. It's a story about friendship, love, and ultimately, is a very true interpretation of life.

If you liked this book, I suggest you read The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

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Buy One Day by David Nicholls at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy One Day by David Nicholls at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy One Day by David Nicholls at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy One Day by David Nicholls at


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