Review: One Day in December

Published October 16th 2018, 394 pages

Author: Josie Silver

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

A story about what happens when you come across your future soulmate and then you end up meeting them and they are already with someone else? I recently read this type of story with In Five Years, which showed a girl waking up in one life five years in the future and when she wakes up in the present the man from her future is dating her best friend. It’s a similar concept to One Day in December where a girl sees her soulmate while riding a bus and he is at the bus stop and then she ends up meeting him as he is dating her best friend. Although the two stories take completely different paths once the initial premise is set, this novel as least pulls it off slightly better.

We meet our main character Laurie as she is riding a crowded bus one day in December. At one of the bus stops, she looks out the window and makes eye contact with a man who she has an instant connection with and who seems to be feeling the same. Unfortunately, the bus moves on before the man can decide to get on the bus and the two have no idea who the other is and if they ever will meet again. Laurie enlists her best friend and roommate/flatmate, Sarah, to search for this man for the next year. Just as Laurie seems to be losing hope, she meets him at their house party. Unfortunately, it is the man Sarah has been seriously dating and has even been talking marriage. Laurie instantly recognizes the man as the one from the bus stop, but she’s not sure if he remembers her.

Jack does remember Laurie, but pretends he doesn’t. Both Laurie and Jack individually choose not to tell Sarah and the two of them must then spend lots of time together in their roles in Sarah’s life. This is where I instantly had an issue with the story as I cannot imagine not telling my best friend if I ever happen to be in the same situation. I understand why Jack and Laurie aren’t completely honest and talk it out with each other as they are protecting Sarah in their minds and they also don’t fully know the intentions of the other. This doesn’t excuse either of them from talking to Sarah, especially Laurie. She needed to tell Sarah the truth soon after this meeting occurred. It doesn’t mean that Sarah needed to break up with Jack as a result, but it just would’ve helped Sarah work with Laurie to navigate moving forward. Instead, as Sarah is in the dark, she forces multiple awkward situations where Laurie and Jack are moving forward to spending more time together. The approach could have been different and more tactful if Sarah at least was aware of what was going on around her. It’s very unfair to Sarah in this moment.

We spend the next nine years (ten years total in the story) navigating their story with Jack , Sarah, Laurie, and a few other main players that all get introduced later. The story switches perspectives as it is told both from the points of view of both Laurie and Jack. The changing views are perfect for this story as the reader learns what each of them is thinking and how they are struggling with their desire to move on to find happiness and their magnetic pull to each other. Through their connection to Sarah, Laurie and Jack spend more and more time together where they learn about the other and a semi-friendship is formed. I’m not quite sure how I see how they jump to being dear friends as the story suggests, but I do see how they at least became friends.

The angst you feel for both Jack and Laurie was very believable as they each were in their own relationships and never fully talked about and admitted how they felt about the other. It didn’t make sense at times why they couldn’t just be open and honest with each other after they became good and close friends. Again, talking to each other openly doesn’t mean that they needed to drop their partners to be together, but at least they would know how the other feels and they can figure out how to move forward together. If they wanted to be together, then they can figure that out and if they choose not to, then they can figure that out, too. Either way it seems a better solution than each of them suffering internally over multiple years and not being able to get another person’s perspective on the situation when their own minds were in anguish due to their lingering feelings for the other.

Overall, all of the characters were relatable and flawed. Although I initially felt like Sarah was completely innocent, she turned out to be just as flawed as the rest of the characters. Even the other characters that get introduced are not all as perfect as they seem, so it was nice that the author was an equal opportunist when it came to designing the characters.  There is a lot of push and pull as you keep wondering if Laurie and Jack will end up together and get their own HEA or will they move on to be with others and their feelings go away to not be in the forefront of their minds. It is an addictive read as you want to see how all the events play out to reach an ending. I do wish there was an epilogue with all the characters as I wanted to see what happens to them after we finally reach the conclusion.  It’s a great, yet flawed story about missed opportunities, destiny, and how the people we meet along the way are sometimes meant to be there whether the timing is right or not.

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