Almost every adult can name and reminisce over “The one who got away.” Maybe it was a blind date that could have been more, or perhaps that “ex” who ended it without any reason, or even it could be a high school crush you had and never was brave enough to ask to dance. For Timothy Anderson, Melody is his one who got away.
In One Love, author Thomas Duffy tells the story how Timothy finds Melody in a newspaper personal ad and the two young lovers decide to meet. Their first date is more beautiful than Timothy dared hope for, but although she promises him a second date, Melody stops responding to Timothy’s calls. Even after Timothy has moved on and began a relationship with a new girlfriend, the elusive Melody plagued his memories. However in his case, Timothy finds and rediscovers Melody, his one who got away.
One Love follows the wild and wistful affair of Timothy and Melody as the two struggle to find security, peace and passion in their lives. For Melody, this meant rekindling her marriage with Timothy, but for Timothy the path isn’t so clear. Timothy had grand aspirations, but instead he finds himself stuck in a dead-end job. Timothy lives a life of what he feels is undeveloped potential; wasting away working retail while he dreams of writing the next great American novel. He becomes a metaphor for every reader’s unrealized ambitions. Timothy is a lonely character, often overwhelmed by life, and we respect him for it.
The best part about Timothy – what makes him so real – is the way his story slowly unfolded, naturally following within the course of the novel. His character developed in real time, before our eyes, in direct response to the decisions he made. Much time is spent on the affair of Timothy and Melody as the two lovers approach middle age, and make some difficult decisions. Exploring the story of Timothy and Melody, it’s impossible to not place yourself in their shoes. They find themselves caught between love and responsibility – which is the most moral? Just as author Thomas Duffy promises, readers must examine their own souls to choose.
Melody, in particular, becomes more real as she struggles between her role as wife and mother, while comparing herself to the person she was before her marriage. Timothy is overburdened with his undeveloped potential, a characteristic which plays out throughout the novel. Melody reminds the reader that our parents all have their own lives to live as well as being there for their children.
Without giving away too much of the ending, what I like best is Timothy didn’t need a partner to realize his ambition. All of the advice his elders give him about the need for marriage and children were only stepping stones in his quest to discover himself.
This book has a positive theme, in the conclusion of One Love we are reminded every ending is a new beginning. The end of the novel isn’t the end of Timothy’s story; rather it’s the bridge into the next chapter of his life. It also reminds us that every mistake we make is a learning opportunity. The mistakes we all make, no matter how significant they may seem, don’t ruin our entire lives. In the end, like Timothy, we only need to be brave enough to take the steps forward to put our lives back on track.