Just One Day
January 10th 2013
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!
I think Gayle Forman is secretly some kind of writerly wizard who manages to pour her characters souls into each and every book that she writes. I have such a writer crush on her because she encapsulates the kind of books that I love to read, but I know that I'll never be able to write, and she does it in such a way that I don't even care. Is this too much fangirling at too early a point in the review? I don't want to hype it up too much because I don't want anyone to read this and be disappointed, because that would just be the worst.
Personally, I enjoyed this book more than I did with If I Stay (I haven't read Where She Went yet - don't kill me.) even though they're both beautiful and amazing books. If I Stay is heart wrenching and tear jerking, whereas Just One Day had a completely different tone. Though it has been about two years since I read If I Stay so my memory of the specifics is a bit fuzzy.
Just One Day felt a bit like two different books between the two parts: One Day and One Year. I would find myself looking back from the second part to the first and wonder if this was still the same book, if this Allyson was the same person we met at the start. But I don't mean that in a bad characterization way, I mean that in an awesome characterization and development way. Because every thing important in this book has a cause and effect relationship with Allyson, and you can see how everything effects her and how she changes throughout the course of the book. And there are moments where she was kind of annoying, but even then it's done so well that you completely understand why, and simultaneously think she's being a idiot while sympathizing with her, you know?
The first part of this book, aptly titled One Day is all about the day she spends with Willem, and falling in love with Willem, and waking up realizing that he's gone and that it may have all been a lie. And it is great. Really, it covers pretty much all the bases as far as YA romance is concerned: Paris, Canals, Old People, Young People, French People, Kissing, Travelling, Running Away From Things (of a literal and metaphorical variety), More Kissing, and Heartbreak. And that's all I'm going to say about that before I spoil anything. Willem was great, though. I really liked him. I know that he was a charmer and an actor, but I think that he has his reasons and I'm looking forward to getting his side of the story as well.
The second part of the book I started off enjoying less than the first, possibly because it was all about the recovery, but it quickly became (probably) my favourite (I haven't really got favourites - they're both as beautiful as each other in different ways) because it's more about Allyson finding herself along the way of trying to find Willem. Also, it is where you will meet the best character ever in almost anything: Dee. I won't say much about him here, because I want you all to discover Dee for yourself, but I LOVE HIM.
I also loved all the Shakespeare in this book. I'm really glad that I read this at around the same time that I'm doing my lit coursework on Twelfth Night because I think I understand it a bit better now. Plus I got to read about a load of plays that I'm not at all familiar with (namely As You Like It) and now want to watch just to help me get this book even better. Also, you know, because Shakespeare. I hear he's pretty great.
Just One Day was great. Just, so great. I don't really feel like I've done it justice, but whatever, as long you pick it up and read it and understand. Even if you feel like it wouldn't be your kind of book, just give it a go. You never know if it'll change your mind.