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This books opens on July 15th 1988, when Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew have just met for the first time, and are at the start of a lifelong friendship.  The book then tells the story of Emma and Dexter through every subsequent July 15th, right up until the mid-noughties.  Sometimes they happen to be together on that date, and sometimes they are not even in the same country, but always, somehow, they are each a part of the other’s life and thoughts.

I absolutely adored this book.  The unconventional format worked perfectly – it provided a perfect snapshot of where the characters were at that point in their lives, and made it easy to pick up what had happened in between each July 15th.

The two characters are so fully developed that I really felt like I knew them well at the end of the book.  They have strengths and flaws, sometimes do stupid things, and often feel like they don’t know what they want to do with their lives – in other words, they are like everybody else.  They are also sometimes embarrassingly familiar and I felt myself wince in recognition at some of the things they thought or did.

Emma and Dexter don’t always seem like two people who would even like each other, let alone become close.  Emma is funny, bookish, earnest, intelligent principled, and yes sometimes, self-righteous.  She is very easy to warm to.  Dexter is charming, lazy, irresponsible and often downright thoughtless – at times I wanted to actively dislike him, but somehow Nicholls manages to keep the character just on the right side of sympathetic.

Other friends, lovers, partners, acquaintances figure in the story, and there are several twists which I didn’t see coming (including one which I couldn’t believe; I had to read the same page three times to make sure that I had read it correctly).

The writing is so fluid, combining plenty of humour with poignancy and sadness – all tied up with an ending that I could never have predicted, but which actually was perfect for the story.

I had heard so much hype about this book that I felt almost certain I would be disappointed.  I was wrong – this is one of my favourite reads so far this year.  If you haven’t read One Day yet, I highly, highly recommend it.

(Author’s website can be found here.)

 

funny, poignant, sad, squirmingly familiar

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