One Day by David Nicholls

515CV+iH7ALFiction — Kindle edition. Vintage, 2010.  448 pgs. Library copy.

On July 15th, 1988, Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley spend the night of their graduation together but go their separate ways in the morning. Over twenty years, readers are dropped back into their lives on the same day – July 15th– of each year.

A premise that sounds fascinating, no? Unfortunately, there is nothing fascinating or beautiful about this tale. An ugly duckling pining over a jerk? How boring.

Dexter is, frankly, a douche. He’s a womanizing asshole wasting his life and I do not at all see Emma’s attraction to him. Occasionally, Emma slips out a witty one liner or two.  This is quite possibly her only redeeming characteristic. I lack the appropriate words to describe her the rest of the time – Frumpy? Dull? Insecure? Whiny? Desperate? Directionless? (Please, don’t let me end up like Emma out of college!)

How in the world did these two ever fall for each other? How in the world did I ever finish this novel?

I know why I finished it; I was convinced that there had to be some redeeming aspect of the novel, some twist at the end that would make it all worth it. There had to be a reason why this book became a national bestseller, a reason why the book has garnished almost four stars of GoodReads. (I guess my first clue should have been that the movie version came and went in theaters without much noise.) The book is a self-absorbed, uneventful slog through two miserable lives.

I seem to be one of the few bloggers who feel this way, but most of my friends have felt the same way about this novel. We all hated Dexter and hated Emma for falling in love with him. I’m not normally one to shy away from melancholy novels but is one even I could not get through.

Others’ Thoughts:


  1. You are definitely not alone in feeling that way. I had the same reaction and it only got worse. Months after I read it someone would start talking about what a sweet love story it was and I would get pissed off. It’s not a good love story! One half of the pair is completely self-centered and self-destructive. The other half has no self-esteem and abandons every good thing in her life when Dexter snaps his fingers. Ugh, I was not a fan.


  2. This is one of those books that polarize people. I read it earlier this year with 4 other friend and I was the only one who actually enjoyed it. I think it has a lot to do with how much you recognize yourself in the character and the time-and-place.


  3. Wowser! As you saw in the conversation I did with Claire/Paperback Reader, I grew to like Dexter as the book went on – though I agree that he was hideous at the beginning. And I did find it utterly compulsive reading, although I couldn’t pinpoint why.


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