Summer Reading 8/9: One Day

One Day by David Nicholl (2009)

One Day by David Nicholl (2009)

I just read One Day by David Nicholls.

Let me just say, I’ve become a bit of a romance novel cynic in my not-so-old age. This book is definitely marketed as a love story, but I think it’s really more than that.

Dexter and Emma have an almost one night stand on the day of their university graduation in 1988. After spending one day together, they keep in touch and remain friends into their adult lives. One Day charts the next two decades of their lives, the changes in their relationship and their shifting outlook on life.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that several aspects of the book really resonated with me. It centres on the one day that Dexter and Emma spend with each other, on the brink of their adult lives. They have certain expectations about where the future will take them, where they want to be, what they want to be doing, the sorts of values they would like to carry with them. This is something that I am currently experiencing. Going through university is an uncertain time. All around you, there seem to be people who are more focused, more driven, more certain about their lives and careers. Above all, One Day is a novel about growing up, about disappointment and setbacks, about pleasant surprises and change.

One Day is known as romantic story but for most of the novel, Dexter and Emma’s relationship is more or less platonic. I think we all know that old friendships can be complicated. Time and distance means you’re not always on the same page. But you love them and you want them in your life, even when you’re not getting along. Nicholls communicates that complexity in a very relatable and realistic way.

The book is also really interesting from a social point of view. Emma and Dexter live their lives against the backdrop of the 90s and Britain. I was born in the early 90s so I got to experience it as a child – but not as a young adult.

After I finished this one, I went out and grabbed the film. The screenplay was actually written by the author, and I always find it interesting to see how writers translate their work for the big screen. It must be nice to get the chance to have a second bite at the apple! Plus, I’ll be honest, I have a huge girl crush on Anne Hathaway. She was excellent, by the way. As you would expect, Nicholls’ screenplay was very true to the book but the film actually seemed to place greater focus on the romantic aspects of Emma and Dexters relationship. So definitely a chick flick I would say, but enjoyable all the same.

So that’s that guys! Just one book to go . . .

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.

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