Wednesday, February 6, 2013

[Review] Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Just One Day | Just One Year

Author: Gayle Forman
Publication (dd/mm/yyyy): 08/01/2013
Publisher: Random House
Pages: 369
Source: Bought

Violence Sexual ContentProfanity

My Rating: 

Exciting and decadent

My thoughts

I'll be completely honest. When I first heard about Just One Day I had decided that it would not affect me nearly as much as If I Stay did. I didn't think the story would be quite as complex as it ended up being. It's not just a fluffy love story about two young adults who meet and fall in love. Although I miss Mia and Adam and everyone in Forman's previous "world", I found so many great characters in Just One Day, people who felt real and some who even resonated in me. There were characters that came off as antagonistic at first, but once Allyson peeled back the layers of her perceptions/assumptions, we find more than we'd previously thought.

Forman explores the uncertain nature of reaching a crossroads at one's life. Allyson has always lived just the way her mother has expected of her. It was just a given that she would become a doctor. Being an only child, as far as she was concerned there was nothing else for her. Between high school and university, she and her best friend Melanie go on a trip around Europe. It's a bust.

The tour group that the girls travel with isn't enough; they don't go to the right places, they don't live Europe the way they'd wanted to. On the last night, Allyson hesitates in ditching the group with Melanie to go to an outdoor Shakespeare play, and it almost makes up for the whole trip. On the train to London, Allyson bumps into the cute guy who handed her the Shakespeare pamphlet. His name is Willem. She complains about her trip, and wishes that she'd been able to go to Paris. Willem suggests she just go--they can go for just one day. Allyson has a few days before their plane back home, and, feeling courageous by her new nickname Lulu, she accepts.

One day, a rollercoaster ride of joy, thoughtfulness, anxiety, thrills and romance, finally ending in devastation. This one day will change Allyson's life forever, casting shadows on the life she's always known.

Just One Day is broken up into two parts: the one day that "Lulu" and Willem have together in Paris, and the aftermath, one year afterwards. For the first half of the book I was invested in the sights of Paris and following along with the pair as they start to really connect. In the latter half, I wanted more than anything to have the two of them together again. All throughout I was hooked--I really wanted to know what happened to them.

William Shakespeare's plays contributed a heck of a lot to the making of this book. I really liked all of the Shakespeare references and quotes, and it's got me motivated to try some other plays of his (namely Twelfth Night, which I never studied in high school).

As you can imagine, the romance is a massive part of Just One Day. As such, if the characters don't have the right chemistry or dialogue, or if you just don't like the characters, it doesn't work. Luckily I was able to feel the connection the two instantly had. The dialogue between them was so well done I wouldn't be surprised in the least if she'd re-enacted some scenes herself or plucked them from her own experiences. And when they part ways and Allyson wants to find him again, I believed it. I believed that she was still hung up on all that happened in that one day.

After that one day in Paris, Allyson also deals with all the other aspects of her life, namely her family and her future. She eventually confronts her controlling mother in the wake of her deciding to throw her expected profession (doctor) away. I found that moment to be a very true and genuine scene that may even resonate in readers. Instead of all her pre-med courses, she takes up artsy subjects, including one for Shakespeare. It is in this course that Allyson finds one of the best friends ever. Although his character didn't convince me, he is truly entertaining and a great vehicle by which Allyson learns some really great lessons.

And then there's Willem. Oh, Willem. He really makes a mess of things. I don't know how I feel about him. I always pictured Logan from Gilmore Girls, so I guess I don't think much of him (*hint* I really don't like Logan). But despite that, Allyson sees something in him, and I believe all of that. I can't wait to find out what happened in Willem's perspective in Just One Year.

Just One Day ends on an ambiguously cheery note where the two meet up again, with enough mystery that will keep you wondering just what happened to Willem all that time.

JUST ONE DAY is a story about getting lost and then being found. It's about bravery and discovering help in the most unlikely places. It's about change, about definitions on life and its various aspects; there is something deeply romantic about the way this book was written. Not just that at its core it's a story about love. It just really blew me away and I can't even properly articulate all the reasons why. But in true Gayle Forman-fashion: this book will make you FEEL.

Similar reads: Wanderlove (Kirsten Hubbard), Anna and the French Kiss (Stephanie Perkins), If I Stay/Where She Went (also by Gayle Forman), The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight (Jennifer E. Smith)

* I get a bit nervous about quoting passages so I cut off a bit here and there, as indicated by the ellipses.

First lines:

What if Shakespeare had it wrong?
To be or not to be, that is the question. ...* What if the real question is not whether to be, but how to be?


""This is falling in love." With his finger, he swipes a bit of the Nutella from inside his crepe and puts a dollop on the inside of my wrist. ...* Willem licks his thumb and wipes the smear of Nutella off and pops it into his mouth. ...* "This is being in love." And he takes my other wrist ...* and ...* Once again, he licks his thumb. Only this time, he rubs it against my birthmark, hard, as if trying to scrub it off.
   ...* "It's something that never comes off, no matter how much you might want it to."
   "You're comparing love to a . . . stain?"
   ...* "Exactly." (63-64)

"Stains are even worse when you're the only one who can see them. (170)

"Sometimes you only feel something by its absence. By the empty space it leaves behind. (276)


AUSTRALIA: Angus & RobertsonThe Nile


I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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