I don’t really like to think about the future too much. I don’t mind thinking about what I’ll be doing next week, or next year, but I can’t stand to think of what I’ll be doing twenty years down the road. I can’t even picture it. It’s too far away and so much can happen in the meantime. David Nicholls doesn’t have the same squeamishness that I do and he decides have his two main characters imagine their lives in twenty years, and then actually show how their lives ended up twisting and turning.
Emma and Dexter both went to the University of Edinburgh and on their graduation day they have a quick romantic interlude. Nothing really happens between them because of their own faults and fears and they end up as close friends. The day they meet is St Swithin’s day, July 15th, and the narrative drops in on them every St Swithin’s day from 1988 to 2007. Life happens, and Emma and Dexter change as time passes. They both grow and regress, fall in love, do good, behave abominably, and all the things that they can do in between.
One Day is really about the way things change, the chances we miss, the importance of love and the difference between our expectations and reality. Since I’m still a student, I really loved the sections on the early and late 20’s in which Emma and Dexter do all the things that scare me about life outside the ivory tower. Emma tries to become an artist, fails and ends up working in a Tex-Mex restaurant for so long that they want to make her the manager. Dexter bums around Europe and Asia on his parent’s money, plans on being known for his work (whatever that will be) and falls into opportunities that Emma can't even imagine for herself.
What I really loved about this book, was the way that dropping in on the same day every year meant that important moments were missing. There were things I, the reader, wasn’t privy to, that I couldn’t see. It also meant that things were always in the middle of happening. I don’t mean that Nicholls was following the writer’s handbook of beginning in media re , but more that life is always happening, things don’t always have an obvious beginning, and sometimes they don’t even have an obvious end. Life is full of middles.