Arts Reviews

“Journeys Of Self-Discovery And Realisation” – Book Review: ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls

Gemma Cockrell

One Day by David Nicholls follows the journey of two characters, Emma and Dexter, who meet for the first time on the night of their graduation. They go their separate ways the following day, but they keep in touch and remain friends as they progress into adulthood. Gemma Cockrell reviews the novel, which follows what both characters are doing every year that follows the day they first met.

Both characters have their very obvious flaws, but I would say that Emma is the most likeable of the pair, with her downfalls being much more redeemable. She doesn’t believe in her own potential, leaving her accepting jobs that she is overqualified for, whilst dreaming of becoming a writer. This may be frustrating, but at least she isn’t hurting anyone else in the process.

Dexter, on the other hand, has the exact opposite problem. He thinks he is much, much better than he actually is at absolutely everything he does. He has clearly had a very privileged background, with everything handed to him on a plate, so he doesn’t know how to actually work for anything. Dexter’s main flaw, however, is just how oblivious he is to his flaws most of the time.

if you’re looking for a book with a sweet and happy ending, then this definitely isn’t the book for you

For the most part, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the character’s journeys of self-discovery and realisation. That was, until the end of the novel, which was my main gripe with this book. I won’t reveal what happens, but what I will tell you is that it is entirely unnecessary and doesn’t contribute anything to the story.

Most of the time, when an event happens in a book, it has some sort of purpose, but not this one. The overarching message of the book seems to be, at least from my interpretation, that life can take you down some unexpected and unpredictable paths, and sometimes you can go searching for something without realising that what you’re looking for is already right in front of you, but the ending just doesn’t match this message. If anything, it entirely opposes it.

maybe I’m just missing the point. But as far as I can see, there just isn’t one

The message of the ending seems to be that ‘life sucks, and you aren’t in control of anything that happens’, which isn’t very rewarding or optimistic when you’ve just read 400 pages containing detailed depictions of everything important that has happened in these character’s lives for the past 20 years.

So, if you’re looking for a book with a sweet and happy ending, then this definitely isn’t the book for you. But if you’re looking for a book that is brilliant up until the ending, which will probably make you feel like reading the rest of the book was entirely pointless, then this is the book for you. Maybe I’m just missing the point. But as far as I can see, there just isn’t one.

two and a half stars

Gemma Cockrell

Featured image courtesy of Ed Robertson via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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