Sunday, July 18, 2010

Book Review: "One Day" by David Nicholls

My name is Larry Hoffer and I am an absolute sap. Seriously. I get teary-eyed when people win sports championships or awards; even some songs and television commercials make me cry. And so while it shouldn't come as a complete surprise to me, David Nicholls' terrific book, One Day made me sob. I mean, I came completely unhinged. Egads.

Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew connect at a party the night they graduate from college in Edinburgh. Dexter is good-looking, popular and privileged, fairly unaware of the world around him except where it directly affects him; Emma, of middle class origins, considers herself to be a bit non-conformist, although she has had a bit of a crush on Dexter throughout college. They nearly sleep together, but spend about a day and a half in each other's company. And this sets in motion a connection that spans nearly 20 years. One Day follows the peaks and valleys of Dexter and Emma's relationship on the same day—July 15—each year. Sometimes they're close friends; sometimes they're not. Sometimes one is romantically involved while the other isn't. Sometimes one experiences career success while the other struggles. One of the characters refers to Emma and Dexter as "Harry and Sally," and there is definitely elements of that film relationship in theirs. But the book is funny, thought-provoking, emotionally charged and even a little maudlin from time to time, especially if you're a sap.

This is a book about love, in many forms—friendship, romance, sexual attraction, marriage, parent/child relationships, unrequited crushes, etc. As Emma says at one point, "Love and be loved, if you ever get the chance." The book may be a bit predictable at times, and sometimes the characters aren't completely likeable, but I found this tremendously compelling and gripping. It has been optioned into a movie, and as much as I hate most film adaptations of books I love, I will definitely need to see this one, because much as its main characters felt about each other, this book has gotten hold of my heart. If you're a romantic—or just a sap like me—read this book.

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