I hate spoiler reviews. I really hate them for books because it is just so hard to get someone to sit down and read a book — literally dedicate hours and days of their lives — when they already know the major plot points beforehand.
With this in mind, I've come to a crossroads. Do I talk about the book openly and tell the experience I had with it, or, do I talk in broad strokes and try to get someone else to pick it up and read it? I think the surprising answer for me is that I need people to read this book so I can't spoil it.
One Day has a nice story set-up. Emma and Dexter, the main characters, graduate college and it is the day after, July 15th, 1988, to be exact. For the rest of the book, we come back and examine them on this exact day, July 15th. That's it, that's all we get. The reader gets to glimpse them for just the single day a year for the next fifteen years.
It's an ingenious set up and the author, David Nicholls, really makes it work. On the surface, it sounds a lot like the movie, When Harry Met Sally but it is so much deeper than that. I'm going to leave the details of the characters' relationship vague because I want you to discover it. I unfortunately started the book with a preconceived notion of what I thought I was going to read and was surprised by what I found.
Both characters have flaws and good points. Dexter is particularly hard to like at times but is always charming. On the surface, Emma seems uptight and bookish but she continually surprises with some of her actions. I was constantly rooting for them even when they seemed horrible for each other. I wanted them to succeed so badly at everything they attempted and it's heartbreaking to see them fail.
Nicholls does a good job of filling in the blanks of what happened in-between July 15ths. Actually, he's quite good at it and really sly at times. He'll stick in a line here or there foreshadowing something to come or sometimes he'll very quietly touch on a major life milestone that happened 'off camera' and I was always pleased at how eloquently he got the information across without having to put it in blinking lights.
Don't let this fool you though. Stuff happens on July 15th. A lot of stuff happens. Some of it will make you smile. A lot will warm your heart. A little will make you cringe. I even found myself getting mad and upset at certain points. But, I can't get mad at the story that David Nicholls unfolded and I'm extremely happy I gave his book a read. I think you should as well.