One Day by David Nicholls
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
If you are asked what you are doing today with you life and what do you want to do for the rest of your life, do you have a template answer? A Plan A perhaps? If that is not feasible, do you have your plan B? Or any contingency plan on your sleeve?
One night as I roamed around the City of London through the tubes, there are three girls with their dates discussing about the book and how the author made an impact to their beliefs. Curious to the neon-colored cover, I thought it was a typical romantic fiction that can cause arguments between couples.
A girl looked at me and asked if I have read the story and what is my take on the book. When I answered otherwise, she looked at me and pulled me into buying a copy. Yeah, I was pawned by those couples, haha (in a tube train station!).
So I bought the copy, not the original hardbound cover but the one with Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess' faces on them. At least it won't be much of an effort if they are described in the leaves inside.
"I guess I want to make some sort of difference..." - that first statement is what struck me the most. At first I can resist the temptation of reading the rest of 'em but I prefer to feel the "feeling" of the quote, so I have to let myself experience the rest of the night before starting the novel at dawn.
And there I was - enchanted by the life story of two personalities spanned for more than a decade.
Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew are exact opposites. Em, a Yorkshire folk who is too "provincial" met Dex, a Oxford city lad in the University of Edinburgh on the night of their graduation. How they spend their moments together and how they keep in touch with each other, it is for every reader to find out.
This is the novel where we can see ourselves at one point in time. Everyone has their confidence issues, and Emma can tell you exactly what she felt too. For those who wanted to be happy and successful at the same time, not minding anything - it is Dexter's job to show it to you - as humbug as he is.
But for us to realize that everything is not what it seems - it is between the moments they meet together, or not meet at all in that time of the year.
Plot-wise, the usage of 20 years in different settings is not only unconventional, but also nerve-wracking. You as a writer have to imagine what are the hots and the nots of a specific period at a specific place. That is one challenge. But for the writer to pull that off and make a good catharsis out of it - is plain genius. It is also interesting on how to see Em and Dex cope with their lives, argue with their differences, and chart their own path to happiness and success.
I warn you. David Nicholls' imprint is not on the words, not on the number of span of years, or even on the different places. It is how he see life between Em and Dex and how he wants to give the message to you as you see it the first time. Or the second. Or how many times you have read the book.
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