Thursday, January 17, 2013
Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman
A 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