Books: “One Day” by David Nicholls

I finally finished “One Day” the other night and I want to start off by saying that I had a terrible feeling it was going to have one of those Nicholas Sparks endings that I really can’t stand.

one day cover

Unfortunately, I was right and as I came closer to the end I found myself not wanting to turn the page because I knew it would show up without warning. But, like a fool, I kept going.

The real surprise is how sad the ending actually made me and how it kept popping back into my mind in the days after I finished the book. This is a credit to the author because he has presented these characters in such a way that you find yourself frustrated, disgusted, angry, and pulling for them all at the same time. They are two very real characters and you can’t help but want the story to turn out ‘right’ but I guess those are not the types of stories that sell books. Each time I was surprised at a stupid, bonehead move that either Emma or Dexter did, I reminded myself of the stupid, bonehead things I have done over the years and I’m absolutely amazed that I have turned into who I am today.

I guess that is the true lesson of the story – the Emma and Dexter we meet on St. Swithin’s Day 1988 are not the same Emma and Dexter we last see together some years later. It was interesting to watch the progression of this relationship since I am close to the age of the characters. They progress – they learn from their mistakes and they do the best they can with what they have. And, in some ways, they don’t change at all.  Old bad habits and fears pop up when they are least expected. I guess the older we get the more we just build on who we were once upon a time.

It’s hard to write this without giving away the ending. I purposely stayed away from reviews at Amazon and other places so I would not accidentally see a spoiler. I will say that the ending, or maybe the aftermath, is realistic (and much more realistic I expected) to a point that you can’t help but relive losses you’ve been through when reading it and I think that is what lifts this book above Nicholas Sparks territory. I actually had to stop reading and “process” this part of the book overnight before I could finish it up.

This is being made into a movie with Anne Hathaway as Emma. It’s hard for me to picture her in that role but we will see how it turns out. The guy playing Dexter, Jim Sturgess, is more of the way I pictured that character. We’ll see how this works out. I guess the theater will be handing out Kleenex like they hand out 3-D glasses.

Yes, many will see “One Day” as a sappy read. I read it because I was curious after all the buzz about it. I am glad I gave this book a chance. I think will stay with me for a long time. It certainly makes you appreciate what you have and how you got where you are.