Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley are friends from college who could be something more.
Starting on the day after graduation, the story chronicles their relationship from their first morning after over the course of twenty years. The hook is that "One Day" checks in with the couple on the same day each year, looking at where they are, where they’ve been and where they’re going. At times, Dex and Emma are the best of friends, much to the chagrin of their various romantic partners at the time. At other, they’re estranged, not speaking and only catching up through third parties.
But at each check-in, they’re somehow connected.
It’d be easy to chalk "One Day" up as a just "chick literature" and dismiss it. But with a cover blurb and recommendation by Nick Hornby, to do so would be to miss something that truly isn’t just a romantic comedy but is, instead, a love story that rings absolutely true and authentic. Dex and Emma feel real and both have flaws. At times, each acts like a fool while at others they are wise beyond their years. Even though you get the feeling that the two will eventually get together, the story keeps you guessing as to how and when it might happen.
And the final few chapters are where the book really steps up its game. Just when you think things should end with "happily ever after" Nicholls hits you with a gut punch and then spends several more chapters examining the implications of it and the fall-out. It makes for one of the more complete reading experiences I’ve had in a while.
"One Day" isn’t necessarily the type of book or story I’m usually drawn to. But if you’re willing to check your conventions at the door and just enjoy this character driven story, you’ll find one of the most enjoyable, engrossing stories and real examinations of what it means to love and be loved out there today.