Whatever Happened to Happy Endings? by Hannah Johnson

Having just finished David Nicholls’s novel One Day I can’t help but feel disappointed with the ending. I was thoroughly enjoying the will they/won’t they relationship between two best friends, Dexter and Emma, finding it utterly relatable; let’s admit it, we have all had that one friend who we unashamedly flirt with, but never actually date and this couple represent it perfectly.


Despite an amazing night together, Dexter and Emma decide just to be friends and to keep in touch. Emma begins as a waitress at a run-down restaurant whilst Dexter becomes a famous TV presenter, causing friction in their relationship. The tables turn when she gets a boyfriend and job as a teacher whilst Dexter’s life of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll soon becomes hangovers, unconsciousness and regret. He tumbles into the world of an alcoholic.


We then think it’s all over for Em and Dex when we see him married and a father. Then we discover his wife is cheating on him; and we are so happy that she is. Enter Emma. After much exasperation they finally get together. (Even though we knew it all along) To my relief their decision to become a couple is not over-dramatized or incredibly romantic, it is simple and real.

Our happiness continues as we see them married and trying for a baby and then boom! The ending. Their exciting, eventual relationship is just beginning to blossom, when on her way to meet Dexter she gets knocked over on her bike and dies.


This completely destroyed the book for me, making me unwilling to read on. I don’t see why Nicholls chose this ending> I suppose it’s presumably to make us realise that ‘what we want is right in front of us’ and yet you would think he would realise that witnessing twenty exasperating years of them becoming so close and then falling out does this anyway.


We fall in love with the characters and their relationship, not the tragedy. Happy endings simply no longer exist. I know that a lot of the classics have terribly tragic endings- Romeo and Juliet, Titanic, P.S I Love You, The Notebook etc.- and that’s what makes them so popular but I don’t want every up-and-coming rom-com to feel someone has to die in order for theirs to be successful. Classics such as Bridget Jones, Notting Hill, Grease and so much more prove this. People are desperate to a romantic relationship: it’s why women are so obsessed with guys doing over the top proposals, leaving petrified men feeling the need to rent out the Eiffel Tower, hide it in the cake or hire a marching band.

Don’t get me wrong I still loved the book, the chemistry between the two characters was engaging and relatable, I just recommend that, to avoid depression, you should not read the ending.


For once could someone please write me a story with a happy ending?