Sunday, 29 September 2013

Book Review: One Day

One Day
By David Nicholls

Set in the grey bustling Capital city of London, One Day had me from the beginning. 
It ploughed straight into one of the biggest issues of your early twenties. What am i going to do with my life, now iv finished uni? Combine this with the morning after the night before, waking up in bed with someone having shared the night, and having to face the situation(s). I seem to be asking myself this every day these days! Just not with the one-night-stand. 
The opening chapters of this book sets to instil in us that overwhelming feeling and presence of the chemistry between them. That feeling of admiration, passion, pride and that one we just cant quite describe; starting in our bellys and loins that fills you with primal desires

Her admiring him: 
'She peered up at him through her was clear why he wanted to stay this way... He had the knack of looking perpetually posed for a photograph. He had one of those faces that where you were aware of the bones beneath the skin... a fine nose. There was something feline about him. Gratifyingly his hair was terrible. Handsome, or beautiful even, with his paisley boxer shorts pulled down to his hop bones and somehow here in her bed.'
And him admiring her:
 'her small neat nose...there was no denying that her face- well, her face was a wonder. With her eyes closed he found that he couldn't recall their exact colour, only that they were large, bright and humerus...All f this giving the impression that she was holding something back, laughter or a clever remark or a fantastic secret joke.' 
I loved that opening chapter. The outcome of things you do when your young and irresponsible and just living life!!! The times you say 'I cant believe i did that!' but you wouldn't do any differently given the chance again. Cliche it may have been, some may say cheesy, but i loved it.

Being born and bred in Leeds myself, i could instantly place Emma, her features, style, anecdotes and the infamous Yorkshire accent. I disagree that we all sound like people from Emmerdale. But from the beginning i had a good idea about who she was and the way she was.

The one thing i really enjoyed about this book was the banter that occurred between Emma and Dexter was carried through to the end. It made me laugh-out-loud several times. Dexter and Emma's relationship, though turbulent, never lost its edge. Emma's loyalty and faith kept the relationship together, although at the end of the book, it becomes apparent that Dexter saw Emma all along. That she was special, and could really mean something. But he was just a jerk-bag living life how he thought was popular and expected of him. 

I must say it was interesting to read of the scenes in which Dexter was high. The interaction of the clubbers and social-groups when you are high and the terrifying reality of things (actions, surrounding and associates) when coming down
Dexter's self-destruction saw him abandon his mother when she was dying, and with his family over and over again. And friends? 'Friends were like clothes, fine while they lasted but eventually they wore thin or you grew out of them.' It was heart-breaking to read through the break-down of his relationships with everyone he knew, but he was a complete fault and centre of the blame. 'Its not that you were ever nice to me, never that interested, you were off you face most of the time-... You weren't even faithful to me, usually off fucking some runner or
waitress or whatever.'
Dexter was selfish, over-indulgent, arrogant, self-destructive mess of a person, hooked on alcohol, drugs and 'the next big thing'

'This is not the first drink of the day, it is the last drink of the night... He has a sudden overwhelming need to drink and to keep on drinking.' 'The trick is to use the uplift of the booze to counteract the downward tumble of the drugs, he is getting drunk to stay sober which when you think about it is actually pretty sensible.' -Said only ever the fucked-up person geared out of his skull! 

Until the end, the book let you think otherwise though. Let you think Dexter saw her as a friend and only ever friendsAnd in a way she was, until he 'got it out of his system'! it was a one-sided relationship where Emma was constantly giving and Dex only taking. Dexter lead an incredibly selfish life for a long long time. Played to others expectations and ran from reality and truth at every opportunity. For this he paid a costly and painful price. Despite the fact that he still always thought of Emma in times of need, he never grew-up. 

I felt for Emma all the way through the book. She was dealt a crap hand, and things just weren't working for her for a long time. She never saw herself or carried forward her strength and beauty. Often settling for second best in many aspects of her life, but mainly with men. I admired that she never gave up on hope, but i was also disappointed that she 'settled'. Her and Ian's relationship was doomed from the start. Should never of happened even as she was never in love with him. There was no real attraction to poor old Ian. But who am i to judge her. I'm sure we've all come across that awkward situation. And the affair? Well, there's nothing new to say there about her self-worth and view of herself. 

When things started happening for Emma and Dexter, it really drew everything together. All the love and frustration, tension and history between them. Life was good and things were working for them both. They faced ups and downs and tackled the world together. It was obvious neither of them felt lonely or standing by themselves. A place they had both been in a long time. It was Dex and Em. Em and Dex

When i was recommended this book by a work colleague, i said yes, a bittersweet tragic love story, 'i can handle at the moment'. I was told i would cry at the end. And the book really did move me. I had to take a moment to take in what had happened, however <<<spoiler alert>>> i didn't cry when she died. It was sad, and written beautifully, but it didn't make me cry. You may be calling me a 'cold-heart bitch' but hear me out.

It was the chapters following that moved me. Loss, grief and heartbreak are horrible. It was the way Dexter had to handle loosing Emma. 'Without her he is without merit or virtue or purpose...poised with regret and shame.' 'For the first time that day he felt a rush of despair and loneliness.' Anyone who has been trough or is going through something like this, knows very well these emotions. Not something i'd wish for again anyway! 
The sheer turmoil inside, handling day-to-day tasks, going through her stuff. Raw and uncontrollable emotion can easily rip apart and destroy a part of you. 

The metaphor of dealing with grief, to like walking on ice i thought was clever, one i haven't heard before and very true.
"These days grief seems like walking on a frozen river; most of the time he feels safe enough, but there is always that danger that he will plunge through. Now he hears e ice crack beneath him, and so intense and panicking is the sensation that he has to stand for a moment, press his hands to his face and catch his breath. He exhales slowly through his fingers... And sits there in silence to gather himself. The ice creaks beneath him."
We have to tread carefully. Know what we can step on that can take the weight and wont cause us to plunge under. 

The way in which the story was set out, on St. Swithins day each year, was fantastic. This snapshot approach allowed so much to happen with out having to deal with and discuss everything in detail (such as Dexters mothers death etc). It allowed us to see how their lives grew and progressed over 20 years and how they endured each other at differing parts of their lives. The story was written very cleverly and very well. Some details were left unsaid but this added to the book as i filled in from my own imagination and interpretation. The structuring of the final section made this story even more touching, These chapters alternated between the present year and the day they first met in 1988. A continuation of the events of that one day, the morning after the night before. It allowed us to see that, despite Emma being a one-night-stand, he really did see something in her. Revealing these details of that day at the end of the book really brought things together. The significance of what they had gone through both together and alone. Incorporating these scenes into Dexter's return trip up Arthur's seat filled me with sad happiness. He was moving on, happy again and had a purpose in life. But he would always cherish his life and memories with Emma. 

I think this way of writing the book really made this book what it is. A bitter-sweet and beautiful tragedy. Without this style it would have been like any other love-story, i.e. Boring!!! But the exact opposite happened with me. It was beautiful

I very much enjoyed reading this book. It made me laugh-out-loud, feel happy and sad. And i connected with the characters. It made me think about life and love. After all, real life is not perfect. Things never quite work out the way we thought or quite intended. Were all fighting our own battles and trying to make the most of what we have
This book was real. It approaches and tackles the very issues we all ponder and worry over ourselves. Self-worth, insecurities, love, life, the future etc. All things we have to conquer at some point in our lives. But it also gives hope. It is a sweet story, one that is well-written, well thought through and well structured. 

One Day is a lovely story of life and love. It is easy to read and one that i would read again in the future. Another one i I would recommend. 

Quotes i took a moment over:

"I suppose the important thing is to make a difference... You know, actually change something... Not the entire world. Just that little bit around you."

"There is always joy in witnessing the joy of others"

"Simply try and be good and courageous and bold and to make a difference. Not change the world exactly, but the bit around you. Go out there with your passion and your electric type-writer and work hard at something. Change lives through art maybe. Cherish your friends, stay true to your principles, live passionately and full and well. Experience new things. Love and be loved, if you ever got the chance."

"I'm perfectly content thankyou. And i refuse to be defined by my boyfriend. Or lack of. Once you decide not to worry about that stuff anymore, dating and relationships and love and all that, its like your free to get on with real life!"

"If you have to keep something secret, its because you shouldn't be doing it in the first place!"

"These days grief seems like walking on a frozen river; most of the time he feels safe enough, but there is always that danger that he will plunge through. Now he hears e ice crack beneath him, and so intense and panicking is the sensation that he has to stand for a moment, press his hands to his face and catch his breath. He exhales slowly through his fingers... And sits there in silence to gather himself. The ice creaks beneath him."

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