One Day by David Nicholls
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Where do I begin? This book is breathtaking, a profound representation of life, tragic and weird and unpredictable as it is. Nicholls chronicles two characters' intertwining journeys with such attention to detail, character, and emotion that I was staggered by its realism. A brilliant character study (of both its main characters, and even the ancillary players -- with spot-on dialogue), the prose is artful, whimsical, hilarious, and spontaneous. His chosen structure of zooming in on one particular date across two or so decades was genius, for several reasons. Many of these dates were not milestones; instead, they were markers of the mundane -- of life's "betweenness" -- times between great triumph, loss -- illustrations of transition, angst, and often confusion. In my opinion, this contributed to the book's profundity, slaying tragedy, and, again, its ability to capture "life." Read this book. You will be changed.
Update 12.22.11: There are spoilers in the comments section! Be warned! (And sorry.)