Quick Review: One Day

Over this past weekend, I read One Day by David Nicholls. This book is a love story told over a 20 year span. The twist: the author checks in with each member of the couple one day each year (the anniversary of their first meeting). The book has garnered a number of positive reviews.

My quick thoughts:

1. It is a story that would translate easily into a movie.

2. I don’t know if the characters are likable. They are young and idealistic when they first meet, not so much so later on after more life experiences. They are generally self-indulgent. Lots of drinking among both characters – a sign of their troubled lives or a reflection of contemporary life in the United Kingdom?

3. I like the idea of checking in once a year. Their lives gradually change and the story doesn’t get bogged down in extended scenes.

4. My wife and I disagreed about whether we enjoyed the book. She did not enjoy it, as “90% of the book involved the protagonists being miserable and/or drunk.” I think this book is like much adult fiction: it is more “realistic” or at least presents a strong contrast between miserable life alone and wonderful life together. Therefore, my wife finds reading a book like this unpleasant – she doesn’t want to spend that much time dwelling on the worse parts of life. Additionally, she felt that the author betrayed the reader at the end.  I, on the other hand, think misery is a common part of life and therefore should be explored in books, movies, music, etc. However, I do think much adult fiction today is melodramatic in its presentation of tough times.

5. *SPOILER ALERT*

Though it has the twist of checking in once a year, it seems like a fairly common story line. Two people meet and then experience difficulties over the years before meeting up again (though it is more complicated than this). This seems to be a kind of story our culture enjoys: love overcoming obstacles, even if these obstacles are self-imposed by the participants.

Overall: a good choice for light (not really fun but not exactly addressing deeper issues in life) yet engaging weekend-away reading. A modern classic? No.

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