“This is where it all begins. Everything starts here, today.”

One Day – warning: Spoilers below the jump
Rebecca Weimer
‘s review (cross-posted from Goodreads)

Jan 31, 13 
One-Day-David-Nicholls-July-15

4 of 5 stars false
Read from January 27 to 31, 2013

One Day is a clever novel filled with Britishisms, humor, heartbreak, and the pangs of life and love; basically, everything I love in a book. Except I threw this one across the room with 30 or so pages left to go.

Emma and Dexter begin the novel as early 20-somethings and throughout the novel progress to mid-40s. They almost hook up, become besties, hate each other, rekindle their friendship, and eventually fall in love. All the while both struggle to find happiness, money, success, and themselves as they grapple with aging and finding their niche In the world. Yes, we all know the story because we’ve all lived the story, seen the story, read the story. Yet the crafty element of One Day is the method in which the story is told: a series of snapshots of the lives of these two characters, a year apart to the day. This often leaves the reader filling the in the blanks and missing out on some of the greatest moments of this relationship, but it also keeps the reader engaged and curious to see how the last year has changed the character. Is Emma still hopelessly lacking confidence in both herself and her life’s path? Is Dexter still boozing and partying and taking everyone around him for granted?

Then came the book-throwing anger. 0829-LRAINER-OneDay_full_600What this anger means is that I cared enough about the characters and the plot to feel this surge of emotion, and I’ve only ever gotten that angry at a book two other times: HP7 and Dance with Dragons (GoT 5). While I know some may argue (and hopefully it was the author’s intent as well) that this event was meant to demonstrate the frailty of happiness and life, the injustice and unfairness, the absurd reality that sometimes things happen that aren’t supposed to, but I thought it was unnecessary. Why play the tragic death card in a story that doesn’t need it? It’s already heartbreaking, a death does nothing to propel the story or offer a new characterization. Dexter has already lost the only other woman he ever loved, and it turned him into a completely unlikable character I stuck with because I knew Emma could change him, but with Emma’s death (and his new girlfriend 2 years later), it just doesn’t sit with me. Not to mention the tragic accident came completely out of nowhere. It basically goes like this:

Beautiful prose, beautiful prose, beautiful prose.
And then she dies.

WTF. (And I’m not a WTF’er, much less a parenthetical fragment posing as a sentence-writer).

I felt the death came across less as a “statement” on life and more as a “I don’t know how to end this” or “I’m too afraid to end this with Em and Dex facing life and the unknown together.” It contradicts the novel, whose whole point was to depict two characters as they live normal lives and face everyday struggles and challenges of growing up. So what happens when they finally get together? The reader patiently waits 300 pages for Dex to realize he is only decent when he is with Emma, and for Emma to have the courage and the confidence in herself to convince him of this. And then she dies.

That being said, I can’t feel so passionately angry about a book (so much so as to actually write a review), and not give it a decent star rating. Next time, though, I’ll skip the end.

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