Just One Day (Just One Day #1)
by Gayle Forman
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Dutton Juvenile
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 knew I was living under a rock all those months of my blogging break but a month after that? I can't believe I only found out about this baby this week! I adored Forman's If I Stay and Where She Went so much so I downloaded Just One Day immediately to my cloudreader and read it to my heart's content. In. One. Seat. I didn't even know what this was about prior to devouring it. I just knew it was Forman so I had to download it. I rarely read books without ever checking out the blurb for fear due some traumatic experience but, a disappointment this was not *insert successful kid meme here* Though I think that If I Stay is still superior to this, Just One Day also delivers a good storyline with a likable narrator and a hot male MC.
Just One Day reminds me so much of another book that I thoroughly enjoyed, Kristen Hubbard's Wanderlove. Though the similarity ends with traveling, the love I felt for it was about the same as with Just One Day. In this book, we are introduced to Allyson (Lulu) and Willem. Two unlikely people teaming up for a journey of a lifetime (or in this case, a day). Where Allyson is self-contained and afraid of stepping out of her comfort zone, Willem is the guy who just goes with the flow, or accident as how he puts it.
Allyson and her best friend, Melanie, are on a post-highschool trip to Europe. It was almost perfect, except their Paris tour got cancelled. Enter Willem, the amateur Dutch actor, who randomly invites Allyson for a day trip to Paris. Allyson is not the type to break the rules but for some reason, the urge to go with this stranger was too strong and so on a whim, Allyson embarks on a one day (and one night) of adventure with Willem on Paris that started out great but ended way too abruptly and disastrously, leaving Allyson broken and full of unanswered questions.
Just One Day focuses on the aftermath of Allyson and Willem's day trip to Paris. It was only one day, but it changed Allyson so much and not for the better. She thinks she has found herself on Paris but when Willem left her, it was like she was lost again and worse, she couldn't go back to her old self. But with much courage and with the help of her friends (and Shakespeare) she sets off on another journey back to Paris to find the Dutch actor she knew nothing about except his name.
This book tugged at my heartstrings in the most delicious way possible. Forman's writing is so fluid and mesmerizing. Her words are hypnotizing. It was practically impossible to put this book down. I cannot emphasize how much I love the character development. Allyson started out as a weak character who's scared of taking risks but as the story progressed (with much thanks to Shakespeare) she finally started getting the balls and went against her parents's decision that she take up medicine and instead really going for the course she's happy with. It was the biggest risk she has taken next to her one day with Willem which also marked the start of both of her individuality and the plans search for Willem.
Though Allyson's main reason for going back to Paris is to find Willem, the entirety of the book isn't really about finding her almost-true-love rather, it's more about finding who she truly is and what she truly wants. And what a beautiful journey it was! Meeting Willem was merely the catalyst to her self-discovery and it is emphasized toward the end when she finally came to terms with her truth and accept it for how she sees it and being happy about it. I didn't really like the ending that much but the fact that Allyson was happy made me happy and contented too.
Just One Day is such an inspiring read. I was so envious with Willem and Allyson's random journeys that I was suddenly struck by an overwhelming urge to catch a random bus and get off on a random place and meet random people. The urge hasn't completely left my system, to be honest, and I swear that one these days, I'll do those things and find my very own accident too (hopefully not the deadly type).
Rating: 4.5/5 stars