For What It's Worth

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

12842115A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay

When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon! ~ Goodreads

Oh how I hate when I don't go all gaga over a book that the entire blogosphere will put at the top of their 2013 Best Book list but I have to be honest and say that even though I liked Just One Day it  was merely an ok read for me.

Allyson is a rule follower, even during her student vacation in Europe. When she meets the free spirited and sexy Shakespearean Dutch actor Willem, she throws caution to the wind and travels throughout the streets of Paris for one day where she really begins to experience life and love.

I didn't fall for Willem right away. I think I was supposed to fall in love as soon as he spoke because of the accent. You may take away my woman card right now - accents don't do anything for me. Gasp! I'm also going to completely ignore all the things that could go wrong taking off from your school group with a guy that you just met in a foreign country. *puts on blinders* I disliked Willem at first. I'm thinking that it's poor etiquette to keep flirting with all your previous hook-ups while touring the city of love with your potential hook-up. I did like that there wasn't insta-love & he certainly has no commitment to Allyson at that point but I found it to be rude.

The day they spend in Paris is sweet and revealing. This was my favorite part. The layers of Allyson and Willem are peeled back slowly and by the end of that day they are different people than who they started out as.

Through a series of events they become separated and Allyson has to go back to the US without ever knowing what happened to Willem and she spends the next year trying to take back control of her life.

The summary states that:

"Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines."

But instead of Allyson breaking free I found her to be boring during this period of time - post Willem. Wasting the year pining for him. She keeps wondering what went wrong with a guy she knew for one day. Huh? When she finally comes out of it, it's to find him so I'm not sure how she broke the narrow confines of her life. I guess yeah - she's finally out taking chances and exploring but I would have loved if that year was spent dating and traveling and that's what led her back to Willem in some way. Nit picky….I know but I just wasn't swept away by the whole thing or convinced of Allyson's new independent streak.

It turns out that Willem's year was much more interesting as we see glimpses through Allyson's search for him. That's the story I wanted to read and I felt like I was missing a huge chunk of the plot. I know there will be a companion novel next year from Willem's pov (Just One Year) but I think I would have rather had a longer, alternating pov book now.

I never expected a HEA for them yet for two reasons; #1 - it's Gayle Forman….she always makes you work for it lol and #2 - we know going in that there are two books so it will be continued, but Allyson's story felt incomplete to me. Not in a cliffhanger kind of way but that significant pieces were missing from the story. I'm not explaining that very well but….I had the feeling that someone ripped out pages from my book rather than this story will be continued.

Nevertheless, I would still highly recommend this book. It didn't work for me but the writing is excellent and I believe that 99.9999999% of readers are going to fall in love with Just One Day & Willem. This is just my take on it. For a completely different opinion read my friend Jen’s great review for Just One Day over at YA Romantics.

Author: website | twitter
Source: Borrowed from my BFF Julie (thank you!)
Buy the book! Just One Day


  1. I know you didn't love it , and I wanted to see some of those same things. I agree that day was great to see them and all those layers.

    Yes Gayle makes us work for the HEA and Willem story does sound better.
    Love you

    1. Thank you for letting me borrow it Julie. xoxo

  2. I do want to try a Gayle Forman book one day

  3. THIS *points to your review* is why I haven't been foaming at the mouth to read JOD. The whole thing seems very frustrating. And honestly, a Dutchman's accent does nothing for me, so I would need Willem to be very charming and courteous for me to immediately love him. An Australian man, on the other hand...

    I'm also w/you on the whole empowerment issue. I don't think spending a year pining over Willem screams "girl power".

    I think I will wait for book two before I even begin to pick up JOD. And wow, I sound cranky. I better turn the snark dial down.

    Great review, Karen.

    1. I think you should try it Andrea. So many people felt the exact opposite from me and that she did have an adventure.

      I'm totally with you on the Australian guy!! I've been begging Jeri to write one lol

  4. Haha - I'm part of the formerly going-to-be-gaga blogosphere that decided to get real and when I read some of the not so great reviews, decided to lower my expectations. The first time I read If I Stay and then Where She Went, I was pretty meh about them but they grew on me. I don't know what it was about this one (and the one coming), but they don't look like they have the potential to be as powerful. I really wish if she was going to keep doing these companion books, she'd put them out closer together.

    Really, really great review - you put your finger on those Forman issues! I wonder if I should wait to read Allyson's book until Willem's comes out.

    1. I liked If I Stay and Where She Went. With Just One Day I just didn't get swept up in their romance (except for a few hours) or Allyson's life once she got back. I felt like the summary was different from what really happened.

      I really wished these books were published 6 months apart. I might enjoy the story more when read a s a whole.

  5. I want to read this book from the moment I saw the first review.

    1. I liked the writing but the story wasn't for me. I hope you enjoy it because everyone else really does.

  6. I agree with this review! Willem had WAY TOO many girls for me to find swoonworthy and it was frustrating to have Allyson pine over him for so long. I did enjoy this book though but it wasn't QUITE what I wanted.

    1. I don't so much mind the player aspect. Didn't love it but ok whatever but flirting while you're hanging out with another girl was too much for me to handle. And his bohemian attitude just annoyed me lol

      I think if the summary didn't promise a girl going out on her own over the next year I wouldn't have been so bummed out with Allyson when she got home. I felt like anything she did was for Willem not herself.

    2. I think even though this book wasn't what I quite what I wanted, it was what I needed because I found I could relate to Allyson a lot sans the Willem part (which sounds like I can't relate to her at all since he's such a big part but YOU KNOW). I did feel that way too at points, like she should let this guy go!! but I'm glad that she gained more perspective towards the end and I enjoyed her growth.

      (AAND I have more feelings!! but I shall spare you and save it for my review, ha)

  7. Karen, if I could reach through my screen right now and hug you, I would! The weight of expectation was just too much for this book to hold up, and I'm SO glad I'm not the only one that felt like that!

    I didn't really like either Allyson or Willem - she was whiny and he was just so....ugh, I don't even know how to explain it! But I really didn't see the appeal in him.

    Thanks for making me feel better about this one ;)

    1. Your comment makes me feel so much better too! I felt SO guilty for not seeing what everyone else did and I love Gayle Forman.

      I can't say I'm all too interested in reading his side of it either although I probably will at some point.