Feb 12, 2013

Just One Day by Gayle Forman review

Just One Day cover
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!

From Goodreads

86,400 seconds, 1,440 minutes, 24 hours. No matter how you define it, just one day can make a world of difference. Allyson "LuLu" Healey knows this all too well. After a whirlwind, although underwhelming, guided tour of some of Europe's most well-known tourist spots she is tired of always following the path of least resistance. She catches the eye of Willem, a dashing Dutch nomad while he is acting in a traveling Shakespeare performance troupe. 

Their chance encounter turns into a one day trip to Paris where everything Allyson has ever thought to be true is challenged. Most of all is her definition and expectations of love.

This was an incredibly moving novel. Gayle Forman's other books have been on my TBR (to be read) list for a long time and having started with this one I think I will always look forward to her work. Part romance and part self-discovery, Just One Day takes as much as it gives to the reader. The first 1/3 of the book takes place in just a few short days encompassing the end of the European tour and the monumental day in Paris. The rest of the novel examines Allyson's emotional recovery from that encounter. By pretending to be LuLu with Willem, what she's really doing is trying on another life. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your outlook, it took her "living" as this other entity to realize just how much she disliked her planned out life. 

I think this book speaks volumes about just how important it is to really examine your life. The main character is barely 18 and just really starting a life that she is already miserable in. Willem isn't too much older, and while not wildly enamored, he does seem to enjoy most of his life either. These two are like a study in contrasts. Willem is content with his life situation but in a way it seems he is really just running from something. Allyson on the other hand is miserable (but doesn't actually realize it) and is running towards an unacknowledged goal.

The writing style is very fluid and rich with references to Shakespeare. I personally love all the characters that you encounter. This is one of those books where you have a few main characters, but you really feel like the supporting characters are the ones who help carry the story. They are just as important as the settings. 

I will say this though, there needed to be a closer eye on editing. There were quite a few obvious errors and extra words that a thorough reading would have caught. I know that's nitpicky, but it was really the only fault I could find with the book. Everything else was just as it should have been.

I hope you decide to pick this book up. My reading habits of late have been colored by my wanderlust and this was just the ticket to help ease that desire. Even better? The companion novel Just One Year from Willem's point of view is due out in October of this year. I can't wait!

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