Book + Movie Review: One Day by David Nicholls

by Jenn (eating bender) on July 22, 2012

It’s been a very relaxing weekend around here. With no set plans other than watching the Open Championship (my heart broke for Adam Scott, but congrats to Ernie Els), I was able to get a lot of reading and writing done, with a little movie watching thrown in for good measure.

I’ve had One Day in my possession for a while, and had read about 1/4 of it a few months back. I can’t remember why I took a hiatus, but it was just the break I needed because I came back to it so enthralled yesterday that I finished the other 3/4 and picked up the movie to watch last night.

In honor of both reading and watching, I thought I’d do a combined book and movie review. The glass of wine is an optional, but encouraged addition to your overall experience.

In Short

The structure of this book is very original. It begins on July 15, 1988, when Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley formally meet for the first time during their college graduation. The rest of the book is a snapshot of their relationship as it relates to this “one day,” July 15, over the course of 20 years. The reader witnesses Dexter and Emma grow up through their twenties, taking on various jobs and relationships that usually do not involve each other. They stay connected as friends, though their friendship will be tried and strained to its limits well into their thirties. Ultimately, this is a book about life’s journey and all the unexpected that comes with it – some good, some bad, some crazy. Read One Day if you enjoy books that can be humorous as well as serious, shallow as well as deep, frustrating as well as gratifying – this book really does have it all.

The Details

One of the things that caught my attention while reading was the fact that David Nicholls makes his characters so easy to relate to. Even though the book begins in 1988, Dexter and Emma faced many of the same challenges of today’s college graduates, from having larger than life dreams to facing cruel realities of a tough job market and, in some instances, realizing that what you thought you wanted to do is not really the right fit after all. It’s as much an emotional journey as it is physical as “Dex and Em” grow. Dexter is the handsome, wealthy and slightly very immature guy that girls fawn over, while Emma is pretty and intelligent but refuses to believe it, often settling for less than what she’s capable of because of low self-esteem. She also has the added burden of being in love with Dexter, who loves her in his own way but is nowhere near ready for any sort of commitment.

All of the issues they deal with through the 90s and early 2000s could happen to any of us, which is what makes the book so timeless. That said, I also loved reading David Nicholls’ attention to detail for each specific year. Whether it was writing “old school” letters in the mail, getting their first cell phones or corresponding via email, the progression of technology, fashion, politics, etc. was well accounted for, and in many ways it felt like reliving my childhood years from an adult perspective.

There were some occasions when the character’s personalities were taken to the extreme, and they said and did things – or didn’t say and do things – that made me want to say, “Come on! Wake up, already!” But then again, that’s life sometimes – everyone else can see what’s happening but you. Dexter and Emma are both continuous works in progress but through it all, there is an undercurrent of support and genuine care for one another, even if they don’t always show it. The ending of the book surprised me a bit. Of course, I won’t go into detail here, but I’d be curious to hear opinions from other people who have read it.

The Movie

Let me start off by saying that I love Anne Hathaway. A few people said her accent in the film isn’t good (“rubbish” was one term used in reference to it), but overall I thought her acting was great and she captured the character of Emma very well. She and Jim Sturgess, who plays Dexter, had strong chemistry on screen and I enjoyed watching them together. As is the case with any book-turned-movie, a lot of the details were missing. At certain points, I even felt as though it was jumping through time so quickly that if you hadn’t read the book, you would be very confused about what was going on. That said, I would definitely recommend it – but my advice would be to read first!


In addition to my One Day marathon, Bobby and I also had a lot of fun on Friday night playing glow golf with three of our friends. It was part of a charity event to benefit the Hadley School for the Blind, and the five of us – Bobby, me, Kelli, Lauren and Kyle – showed up in style.

What is glow golf, you ask? Only one of the coolest golfing experiences I’ve ever had! Once the sun sets, everyone cracks open their glow stick necklaces and picks out a colorful golf ball, which lights up when it hits a hard surface (such as a club). The entire par-3 course was lit up like an airplane runway from tee box to fairway to green, and we had an amazing time. We ended up scoring 29 through a scramble, which is just two over par! Great shots were hit by all and even though we weren’t the lowest in the clubhouse, we had a glowin’ good time.

I hope to play glow golf again. It was a fantastic way to spend a summer evening. Thanks, Kelli!

Hope you’ve all had a great weekend. Hard to believe we’re entering the last week of July…

Have you read One Day or seen the movie? If so, what did you think?


1 Lara July 22, 2012 at 9:13 pm

I agree with your review almost entirely! Though I didn’t watch the entire movie (sigh), one of the reasons why I turned it off is because it somehow managed to move too slowly, yet too quickly, all at the same time. It’s hard to explain but I felt like it didn’t focus on the right scenes or something! Like most movie/book adaptations, I enjoyed the book far more 😉 Glad you had a relaxing weekend, Jenn!

2 Jenn (eating bender) July 26, 2012 at 10:35 am

I know EXACTLY what you mean! Moral of the story: the book is always better. :) Hope you’re having a great week, Lara!

3 Karla July 22, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Since we already discussed One Day (great reviews, by the way—you make me want to run and read the book now!), want to chat about glow golf. How cute are your golfing outfits, and how fun does that whole experience sound? :) Bonus: You all are amazing players, and in the dark, no less! Congratulations, team!
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4 Jenn (eating bender) July 26, 2012 at 10:43 am

It was a lot of fun! I am determined to find more glow golf courses around here. It’d be amazing to do it again!

5 Joy July 23, 2012 at 2:39 am

Ok so you said glow golf and I was like ohhh I’m dying to try the one at the mall. I kept reading um yeah you meant real golf NOT monster golf — noted! Yours seems cooler
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6 Jenn (eating bender) July 26, 2012 at 10:43 am

Haha! Monster golf sounds like fun, too – but the glow golf was a super cool experience!

7 Irina @ Chocolatea Time July 23, 2012 at 8:16 am

I’ve been wanting to watch that movie but I had no idea that it was based on a book (of course I should’ve known!). Glow golf sounds so fun! I have zero golfing skills but I do like mini golf and there’s a place that has glow-in-the-dark mini golf in Lincolnshire that’s a lot of fun. Glow gold looks a lot cooler though
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8 Irina @ Chocolatea Time July 23, 2012 at 8:18 am

Glow golf*** although glowing gold would be pretty cool too :)

9 Jenn (eating bender) July 26, 2012 at 10:44 am

Glowing gold would be awesome. :) I’m going to have to check out the glow-in-the-dark mini golf place! Let me know if you end up watching One Day!

10 Alyssa @ Don't Look Down July 23, 2012 at 9:45 am

I recently picked up One Day from the library but haven’t had the chance to read it yet. Sounds like an interesting book though and I can’t wait to enjoy it (with a glass of wine!)
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11 Jenn (eating bender) July 26, 2012 at 10:45 am

Awesome – I can’t wait to hear what you think of it, Alyssa! With wine, of course. :)

12 Lauren Smith July 25, 2012 at 10:58 pm

That sounds like such an interesting idea for a book. I can’t wait to read it. I enjoy reading your book reviews and have read several of your picks. One book worth mentioning is called, “The Masada Protocol” by author Lee Broad. This a fiction thriller novel based in Israel in which a former black ops officer has taken on an intelligence assignment that takes him into a Middle East conspiracy that he must solve along with the help of a beautiful under cover agent from the Mossad.

13 Jenn (eating bender) July 26, 2012 at 10:46 am

Thank you for the kind words on my book reviews, Lauren. It makes my day to hear you’ve read several of the books I’ve posted about! The Masada Protocol sounds incredibly interesting. I’m going to add it to my to-read list – I appreciate the recommendation!

14 Lauren Smith July 26, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Your welcome! Keep up the great reviews!!!! I really appreciate them.

15 julie July 30, 2012 at 10:09 am

great review girl! i started reading it a while back and i just couldn’t get into it – so i put it down – t hen saw the movie – thought the movie was horrific! haha and then i was glad i didn’t finish reading the book.
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16 Vegan July 31, 2012 at 3:48 am

This is just the book that I really want to have right now. I can sense that its not too tiring to read. Because I love books that can take me to another place but will no stress me thinking or understanding every bit of their details, , you know what I mean? haha. Just want to grab my copy now!

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