One of the books I finished earlier this year was Us by David Nicholls. You might recognise this name as he also wrote One Day - which was made into a film a few years ago. One Day was an excellent read and when I spotted Us on my friend's bookshelf, I asked to borrow it and I'm glad I did.
Nicholls is an excellent writer with a knack of being able to write about the ordinary in a way that engages the reader. If you read the synopses for One Day and Us, they don't sound like anything special but yet, I would definitely recommend both books.
Us centres around a family of three: Douglas, Connie and Albie. It tells the story of a family trip around Europe through which we see glimpses of their past. Through the narrative, we get to know each of the three characters and what the family dynamic is like. Each chapter is short so it's an easy book to pick up and put down if you struggle to read a lot in one go.
Although the book was full of clichés, it still worked because they were realistic clichés. A scientist marries an artist (opposites attract), scientist father wants creative son to do 'academic' subjects and mother is the laid back parent so gets along better with son than father does.
My favourite bit about Us is how different Douglas and Connie are - he is a sensible, middle-of-the-road kind of guy and she's more laid back and happy-go-lucky. The book starts with Connie telling Douglas that she's leaving him and on first impressions, it's easy to see why they weren't compatible in the first place. However, their different personalities balance each other out extremely well and as the book wore on, this became clearer and clearer and it definitely made me feel a bit sad towards the end!
Us tackles growing apart as we grow older (a sad fact of life) but also the topic of separating and divorce. I like that in this scenario, separating doesn't have to be a bitter and twisted thing and that it can be amicable with all parties coming out of it relatively unscathed and not full of loathing for each other. In short, Us is a grown-up book (so I'd say for those in their mid-twenties onwards - maybe because I've read it :) ) that shows that no matter how hard we try sometimes, if things aren't meant to be, they can't be forced.
Overall, I'd give this read an 8.5/10 and wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone who enjoyed One Day and wanted a semi-serious read.