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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this witty, affecting novel that checks into two friends one day each year is a frank look at how a friendship evolves over two decades, and how emotions -- affection, lust, love -- wax and wane over time. As characters go, the protagonists are fully realized, with foibles, quirks, and strengths that unfurl in realistic ways. Even the way they get to know each other feels authentic, too. Given how much ground it covers, there are plenty of adventures, including those of a sexual nature. (The descriptions don’t get explicit, but they do sometimes veer to the boorish, especially from Dex's point of view.) There's also swearing and some material infidelity, despair, and marital discord; these aspects may prove too mature for young teens who may be attracted to the book because of its movie incarnation starring the popular Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess.
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What's the story?
Emma Morley and Dexter Mayhew meet on St. Swithin's Day, July 15, in England, the day of graduation from university. They spend the night talking and making out but, because Dex is off on a year-long travel adventure, decide to be friends. Each year on that same day, we check in with them and watch as they negotiate adulthood, external relationships, and their friendship, and figure out what they truly mean to each other and just how much. It's no pretty, easy journey, as emotions change and develop and boundaries are established and broken.
Is it any good?
It may not be literature for the ages, but ONE DAY is unequivocally moving and compelling. It stacks up against many others as a stellar, honest portrait of a genuine friendship -- marred by pitfalls and setbacks but worth every moment nonetheless. Reading it, you feel as if you're privy to a real-life relationship; you root for them and get frustrated with them. (Don’t be surprised if you find yourself talking to them.) It's funny, too, and finely tuned to the zeitgeist. The once-a-year format sometimes feels like a conceit, but also gives the narrative much-needed structure. Some readers may be disappointed with the surprise ending, but no matter what emotions it elicits, it’ll leave you thinking about the book for days afterward.
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For kids who love romance
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.