Friday, June 25, 2010

Week 25: One Day – David Nicholls (448 pages)

If I had any forethought at all, I would have waited 4 weeks to read this book. July 15, 1988 is the day that main characters Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew meet on their last day of college in Scotland. It is also the day that the author chooses to give us a snapshot (in chapter form) of Emma and Dexter over the next 20 years.

This compelling novel grasped me from page one. We find Dexter and Emma in bed and we aren’t sure whether they have or haven’t “done it”. The conversation that builds between the two of them is intense and teasing as they talk about what each of their futures will hold for them. Emma is an idealist, with FIGHT THE POWER values. Dexter is from money and has no idea what he is going to do with his life. They seem both wrong and right for each other – the yin to the other’s yang.

The author is brilliant in the way that he catches both the significant and the insignificant of each July 15th that passes. Dexter goes into “media” a job that he does not need much talent to do, but his great good looks lead him to be a success. Emma takes longer to figure out what to do with her life and shuffles from meaningless job to meaningless job before she settles on becoming a teacher. Each year the pair often meet up and oftentimes Dexter is insufferable and Emma is pathetic – they are the greatest of friends and they see the good intentions inside of each other, but since they know each other so well – they often hurt each other the most.

This book carries one along with its well-drawn characters and non-straight forward appeal. Each chapter moves us along and we see the two maintaining a friendship, but the book also shows the missed opportunities, the poor behavior, the sulking – all things that a 20 year friendship often goes through. The will they or won’t they aspect of the novel is also quite engaging. Author Nick Hornby calls it the perfect beach read for people who are normally repelled by the very idea of beach reads. To call this a beach read, or chick lit or lad lit – diminishes this novel. It is just a super book.

I am not at all sure who would hate this book; it is one of the few for this project that I was able to read in a mere 2.5 days time. I want everyone to read it, it was just that good.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like another I must add to my list! Great review!