Rated Reads

One Day

by David Nicholls

Rated: High

It’s July 15, 1988, and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have just met. They’ve been slightly aware of each other throughout their time at university, but a graduation party has brought them together in bed this one night to kiss, “cuddle” and talk about the future. They each think it unlikely they’ll ever talk again, considering their lives are going in separate directions. But, perhaps against all odds, they end up becoming good friends and staying in touch over the course of nearly 20 years.

One Day charts the course of that friendship, as it waxes and wanes, as they alternately enjoy each other’s company and drive each other crazy, checking in on the relationship on the same day of every year: July 15. Dexter and Emma date other people, work in different fields from each other and from what they had expected for themselves, and find themselves aging from early twenties to mid-thirties to forties. Life happens, and readers see a glimpse of their lives as they go separate ways or intersect on July 15. The friendship has a bit of a “When Harry Met Sally” feel to it, and the book even alludes to that movie once. Will Dex and Em get together as a couple finally, or will it never work? Will they find themselves, be comfortable in their own skins? Each passing year brings readers closer to those answers, while making us laugh and wince and even cry a little as the two stumble along through the perils of everyday living.

One Day is a fun and clever novel that entertains but still examines the questions we all face as life brings mostly the unexpected. Near the end, the significance of July 15 is revealed, and it is profound and moving. It turns a good book into a great one. It may be a conceit, but it is a really terrific one that changes the reader’s perspective of the whole story. It made me sit and ponder as the story was coming to a close.

Rated: High, for more than two dozen uses of strong language. There is some sex, but very little detail.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

One Response to One Day

  1. […] could, in the wrong hands, be maudlin are deftly and lightly handled. Nicholls’ previous book, One Day, was a good one, but it did resort to a big bang of a twist that could be seen as a nasty trick by […]