Title: Just One Day
Author: Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day, #1
Date(s) read: April 12 – 13, 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Purchased (Hardcover)
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!
So I’m pretty sure that Gayle Forman has been put on this earth to rip out my heart consistently with her writing. She writes some of the most beautiful books that have me going through such a wide range of emotions that by the time I finish the book, I have to gather my thoughts to really figure out how I felt about the story.
With Just One Day, the answer was simple: I absolutely loved it.
First off, there are the characters. I was completely in love with Allyson’s character right from the start. She was getting pushed by her parents to do something she wasn’t sure she wanted to do — something that a lot of people can relate to. I loved seeing her journey of being someone who was so timid, scared to stand up to her parents, to someone who could follow her own dreams and figure out what she wants in life. And then there’s Willem — how can you NOT swoon over him during his and Allyson’s meeting? I really wish that we had more of him in this story, but the idea was that the story showed Allyson’s journey, whereas we’ll get Willem’s in Just One Year, the companion novel to this book, but I’ll get to that later.
Second, Paris! I had just finished reading Anna and the French Kiss and was overjoyed to get to visit Paris again. Now, I can’t seem to get enough of it! I love the idea of getting lost in a city, fumbling through rusty French phrases, eating decadent meals (and macarons!), and finding true love. I really loved that Allyson and Willem didn’t go to the normal French tourist attractions, but went with their gut and let the city guide them. I also loved seeing the change in the city as Allyson’s character grows.
Third, the journey. I don’t want to give anything away, but I did love how the story wasn’t ALL about Paris. Rather, the story is about Allyson’s character growing. Not only is Paris good for finding love, but it’s good for finding yourself — Allyson had to find out who she was as a person and had to break out of her shell. She met so many wonderful characters along the way and I can’t even start to talk about how much I loved them all. This story isn’t just about love, but there’s friendship and there’s family. Allyson had to figure out what her relationship really was with so many people and Paris was the place that triggered everything.
By the end of this story, my heart was pounding and I couldn’t read it fast enough. Once I finished, I desperately needed Just One Year — I wish it came out sooner! I can’t wait to read Willem’s journey in all of this — and to revisit Paris. Gayle Forman is a magnificent writer and I found myself smiling and swooning throughout most of this novel, completely entranced by Allyson’s story, and craving to learn French and to eat macarons by the end. This is highly recommended!