First of all, I should say that David Nicholls is no relation. It's not a very common last name - especially spelled this way - so I wanted to get that out of the way.
As I caught trailers for the movie "One Day", I found myself thinking it was something I might want to go see. Knowing it was based on a book meant I had to read the book first. I happened to luck out and find it available from the library so immediately added it to my ebookbag :)
One Day captivated me right from the start. The premise is that it follows the lives of the two main characters - Dexter and Emma - on July 15 of each year and explores their relationship and the roads they take as they move from being university students to finally finding themselves where they should be.
Nicholls masterfully weaves the tale in this fashion. Each chapter bringing on the next year. He never spends much more than a sentence or two recapping what happened in the year leading up to the next day. A few words is enough to close the gaps. It makes the story flow really well and, in an age where everyone is already connected so much through their social networks, the reader feels like they already had the story.
We are brought along in Dexter's climb to mediocre fame and how it changes him. Through Emma's insecurities and how she overcame them to find a confidence that is all her own. Through the love they share but are afraid to speak of. Through his reliance on substances to keep him going and the heartbreak of his mother's death. Through her disastrous relationships and how she grew from them to parlay her experiences into writing.
Ultimately, to where they realize that what they've been denying all along was meant to happen and they somehow end up together and living the life they should.
It is a sweet tale, told without much sentiment. The characters seem like real people. You empathize with them and ache when they ache. They become like friends that the reader wants to smack sometimes because they aren't "getting it".
Nicholls is a brilliant writer and there were parts of the story where he made the grief so palpable that you felt as though you were experiencing it alongside the characters. I had trouble reading after 2004. But the story goes on and you begin to understand how these characters grew up together and grew through the loss.
I can't give spoilers on this one (I really hope I haven't accidentally given away a major plot element). I just really want you to read it. It is beautiful and ugly, happy and sad...and totally worth reading every word. I couldn't put it down and often found myself reading in any spare second just to devour every page.
Funny enough...after finishing the book, I am less inclined to watch the movie. I don't think the actors are "it" for those parts. There is no way that Anne Hathaway could ever be Emma Morley. and Jim Sturgess...well, I thought I might be able to see him as Dexter Mayhew, but I really can't. I'll probably wait until it's on Netflix. This book will live on in my imagination and heart for a very long time.