One Day by David NichollsRarely am I left speechless, I usually have plenty to say, but as I reflected on this novel, I realized there would be no surefire way to describe this book. It is a complete conundrum. Readers will either love or hate this book, I don’t think it there is much of a middle road with this one. It will speak to those with similar personal experiences.
I enjoyed the format. It gives the reader snapshots of Dex and Em’s life, like flipping through a stack of polaroids, just a flash of what was going on at a particular time. Picking the same day established a sequence and highlighted that life and circumstances can change so quickly at times, or not change at all as was in Em’s case when two days start exactly the same. I think this was an intelligent way to approach a story that spans 20 years. We don’t really need a full depiction of every single event in their lives to have a sense of what they are going through.
Characterization was excellent. Dex and Em quickly became real in my mind, as if I was peeking into the lives of a couple of friends, or reading their journal pages. I too quickly began to know what Emma would or would not like just as Dex did. The characters were genuine. Some reviews say that they were stereotypical…but I find that some people latch onto stereotypes, it helps them define themselves. I feel this is what Emma was doing in her youth with her political stances and thus why they are not as important as she grows older. So are they really stereotypical characters? Or are they just portraying their ideal personas as so many people do?
I find that comparisons to When Harry met Sally fall short. I understand the reasons for the comparisons in that they are both about friends that seem to circle back every few years and make sarcastic quips to one another. But I feel like it ends there. To me, this is more of a modernized Wuthering Heights.
The author’s ability to write from a woman’s POV is refreshing. I am hesitant when I read something written by a man, trying to sound like a woman. I generally feel like it’s not authentic,like there is something off. Not with this book. Em thought the way I would think, said things that I would say.
In the end, this novel deeply affected me. I have not read something that has touched me this much in some time. It spoke to me completely as I was tortured by my own Dex in my youth and early adulthood. The emotions are portrayed as they should be; the frustration, the yearning are, from my perspective, completely legitimate. I found myself feeling like I was reading bits and pieces of my own story. I had knots in my stomach through most of the book and after finishing this at 1 am this morning, I could do nothing but stare at the ceiling and walls, absorbing what I had read, tearing it apart mentally, and extracting lessons from it to be applied in life. That, for me, is the mark of a wonderful novel, reading that reaches into your soul and touches your heart, writing that moves you to feel.
15 Years And One Day
Spanish dialogue. Never allowing its overstocked cast of characters much breathing room, the film lurches from Afterschool Special-style moralism to perfunctory murder mystery to sappy melodrama with all the tonal consistency of a rusted tuba, stranding several excellent actors in the process. The standout in a strong cast, Piper has a naturalistic grasp of the more undemonstrative aspects of teenage rebellion, and in an early argument with his mother, Margo the always welcome Maribel Verdu , Jon seems a decent kid working through typical adolescent ennui and still grieving the recent death of his father. The film never acknowledges that such behavior seems to suggest a budding Jeffrey Dahmer more than a Holden Caulfield, presenting it instead as simply the last straw for Margo, who sends Jon off to live with his estranged, ex-military grandfather, Max Tito Valverde , in a small town on the Alicante coast. Very few of these plot strands connect or develop in any meaningful way; nor do they elicit much of a response from Jon.
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But juvenile pranks and general teenage gobbiness suddenly give way to a more brutal act - the seriousness of which is seemingly incomprehensible to Jon - and his mother decides that sending him to stay with her estranged ex-military father Tito Valverde is the only course of action left open to her. And so the stage is set for a 'learning experience' whereby the lad will learn some discipline and respect for his elders and the old man's heart will soften and he'll discover that there's more to life than the rigid route of his daily 6km run. But, in fact, neither has that much to learn from the other. Aside from the ill-thought out revenge on his next door neighbour, Jon's bad behaviour amounts to talking-back to authority figures and pulling dangerous stunts on his bike - he's hardly Marlon Brando in The Wild One. His headmaster suggests that he's acting out due to losing his father five years earlier, but the conversations he has with his peers reveal him to be well-adjusted in relation to his father's death. He's essentially just a run of the mill teenager. The 'confrontations' between the two amount to Jon's incredulity that there isn't a television and Max confiscating Jon's football boots when the lad's asinine behaviour makes his study tutor quit.
T his novel spans a couple of decades but takes place on a single date - 15 July, St Swithin's Day, destined to be the anniversary of several key events in the lives of the two principals. They are Emma Morley - spiky, non-U, from Yorkshire; and Dexter Mayhew, very confident, very handsome, large parental home in the Cotswolds. Emma and Dexter first meet on 15 July , the last day of their studenthoods in Edinburgh, when they sort of get off with each other and first exchange banter, if not too many bodily fluids. Thereafter, the novel catches up with them every subsequent 15 July, the annual updates charting the course of their lives and their continuing though not always flourishing friendship. When that first date turns out to have been a one-night stand, the very unpromiscuous Emma has to work harder at coping with the platonic nature of their friendship than the bed-hopping Dexter.