One Day follows the story of two individuals, Emma and Dexter, over the course of twenty years. However, it tells the story of their relationship only by narrating the events that occur on one day, July 15th, from 1988 to 2007. So this book is a story that takes place over a period of twenty years, but tells the story of 20 days.
I’m well aware that this concept of following one day in a character’s life is nothing new, but this was the first book I read which had this unique style of story writing which I really enjoyed. The characters grew and matured so much in the time frame but the one day we saw them illustrated that perfectly. The writing was my favourite part about this story – I loved how the book is divided into sections, depicting periods of Em and Dex’s lives like early twenties, late thirties etc. Apart from the writing style, it’s quite an ordinary story – two people who are perfect for each other are separated by some cosmic force, the timing is never right, but eventually they get together and then something happens.
I loved Emma and Dex’s friendship. From awkward encounters to being the best of friends, they had a great dynamic. They brought out the best in each other. Emma made Dex more responsible and Dex helped Emma live to the fullest potential. They had great chemistry and I loved their back and forth banter. Friends to lovers is a wonderful trope and this book executes that beautifully. However, it was a bit frustrating to see how they both are clearly perfect for each other but don’t accept it or the timing is off or something comes up preventing them from being together. What I loved is that the author didn’t just show the good, happy, fun parts of their friendship. He showed them have fights and disagreements along with their reconciliation which made the story more interesting.
The realism of the characters was unbelievable. Though I did not relate to either very much, I’m sure many people in their mid or late twenties will. Nicholls talks about problems that most people go through in their lives – trying to figure out a career, relationship problems, job problems, family issues and friendship problems. Dexter and Emma come from opposite sides of the spectrum – Dex is well off, travels the world, teaches in France and lands a job in TV while Emma, being poorer, works at a restaurant and then slowly moves on to teaching. The contrast between the bourgeoisie and the common people expounded on the element of relatability because it talks about issues people on both ends of the spectrum face.
The story is set in different places from their university to London to India and France and I just loved reading about them in so many different settings! As an armchair tourist, it was immensely satisfying. It also makes sense because they wouldn’t be cooped up in one place for twenty years.
Something that added a little bit extra to the story was the addition of letters that Emma and Dexter sent each other over the years, how Emma wrote poems about her crush on him, Dexter trying to convince her to get a cell phone. As it’s set over such a long duration of time, and just when phones and the internet became big, it was fun to read how the way they use technology over the years and how the world evolves with them and their relationship.
I saw the movie and it’s an incredibly faithful adaptation, it’s funny and bittersweet. Though a few things are different in it, I thought it was a decent transition from pages to the big screen.
All in all, this is a great story about an epic romance and if you like romance, this is definitely for you. It’s bittersweet and has an unexpected ending but will leave you with a want to travel and explore and make friends and memories and days count. After all, life’s an adventure we all should embark on.
You can live your whole life not realising that what you’re looking for is right in front of you.