After reading If I Stay and crying almost continuously, I was terrified to read Just One Day out of the fear of being forced to walk around with bloodshot eyes and a runny red nose. Thankfully, Just One Day is decidedly less sad and Forman’s story telling is just as good.
The book starts with the lead up to The Day. Allyson (aka Lulu) and Melanie are in London for a student summer tour. Allyson is quickly established as the good girl and Melanie is the rebellious best friend. The tables turn when Allyson meets Willem after an untraditional performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. She eventually decides to go to Paris with him for just one day where they abslutely click like she’s never clicked with anyone before. But, when she wakes up the next morning, Willem is gone and Allyson is let to get herself home while picking up their pieces of her broken heart. This part of the story was good. It was romantic and pretty realistic (mini spoiler: their time together is not all fun and games), but it was Part 2: One Year that I really enjoyed.
By leaving her friend and doing something immensely un-Allyson-like, Allyson set off a course of events that would change her, her friendships, and her family. Following Allyson’s year long journey to reconcile what that day taught her with the expectations of childhood friends, her parents, and her new friends was easy and understandable. Anyone who has gone off to college or decided to find herself regardless of what the people around her think will easily empathize with Allyson because Forman gets it perfectly. She captures Allyson’s emotions and makes it real to the reader.
Many female main characters are whiney and annoying, but Allyson–even when her character is acting immature–is courageous and it is so refreshing to see a female that is courageous without kicking butt. I love my action and fighting in a story, but it’s also nice to see a young woman who can handle herself emotionally without also worrying about serving up a can of whoop ass.
Forman also creates a Willem that you love and dislike at the same time. He is sweet, charming, and handsome, but there are also frequent hints that his past with women is not stellar and the book jacket copy flat out tells you that he’s going to leave so you also kind of wait for that show to drop. But he is so great with Allyson in Paris that you can’t help but adore him.
I loved Part 2 of Just One Day and flew through it, but for some reason I had a very difficult time getting into Part 1, which is why I have given the book 3.5 stars. Anyone who falls for Part 1 harder than I did will surely bump my rating up to a 4 or higher though.
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
About Just One Day
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!
About the Author
Gayle Forman is an award-winning author and journalist whose articles have appeared in such publications as Jane, Seventeen, Glamour, Elle, and The New York Times Magazine, to name just a few. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.