One Day in December, by Josie Silver

It’s that time again—to consume all the corny Christmas romances we can lay our cookie-sticky hands on! You know, there was a time where I never would have picked up a book that looked and sounded like Josie Silver’s One Day in December, for the very reasons that many people love Hallmark’s holiday lineup. But now that I’ve learned to let my hair down when it comes to romance and chick lit, I can readily enjoy the heaps of holiday cheese right alongside you guys, and I’m pleased to inform you this one will deliver!

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One day was all it took to change Laurie James’ life forever—the day she saw a handsome man through a snow-laden window of a London deck bus. Laurie is convinced that that man will one day be hers, but then, after a year of searching for him, she learns that her best friend Sarah has a boyfriend. Lo and behold, that new boyfriend is Jack O’Mara—the man Laurie saw through the window. Ten years pass, and Laurie, Sarah, and Jack go through the highs and lows of friendship, careers, marriage, and most of all, love.

I found this book at Barnes and Noble before Thanksgiving, and I just knew that it, in some way or other, would bring me solid, cheery enjoyment. The premise sounded like holiday chick lit, but I was drawn into this book so much more deeply than I expected. Granted, the plot is still by-the-numbers and the characters do almost exactly what you expect them to, but that doesn’t mean that you didn’t enjoy taking this journey with them.

First of all, there’s Laurie and Sarah. Laurie is a compelling protagonist, who, despite her best efforts, struggles to find solid ground in her journalism career, but will do anything for her best friend/university roommate. In their friendship, I saw a lot of myself and my college roommate, who also became my best friend. In fact, it was during a visit to see her that I found this book, and I’ll bet, judging by the summary alone, she’s already interested in this book… Anyway, I’m sure anyone will be able to see themselves and their best friendships in this book’s leading ladies, which is a huge part of this story’s momentum.

The other is Laurie’s relationship with Jack. With them, I think we see the core theme of this book: the connection between destiny, and the choices we wind up making. Laurie spends part of the book convinced that her mystery man is her true love, but as she and Jack mature, that dream is set upon by cruel reality. What’s refreshing is that Laurie doesn’t cling to that dream, ignoring the world around her. She makes New Year’s Eve resolutions at the beginning of each year, and she tries actively to make her resolutions come true. She is still sensitive and sweet and yearns for true love, but she is not naïve.

I love stories that watch characters grow over many years, and I genuinely liked watching all three characters come into themselves: changing from dreaming, innocent graduates to full-working adults going through the wringer of life. Their relationships felt true, and the decisions they made in the midst of their changing feelings made sense, which, I think, elevated it a cut above other holiday stories. That is, Silver really made an effort to make these characters real, rather than providing archetypes produced solely for a bit of feel-good fluff.

You probably already know most of what happens in this book, but chick lit is allowed to latch onto your heart from to time. Besides, isn’t it that time of year where we consider what we were, and what we can become, like Laurie and Jack and Sarah do?

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