Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Allyson Healey’s life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.
A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the “accidents” of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost…and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know.
I totally loved Gayle Forman’s first two books, If I Stay and Where She Went, when I read them a few years and declared my self her fan. I bought a copy of Just One Day as a Christmas gift for myself last year.
Following the If I Stay style of having two POVs in two books, Just One Day is told in Allyson Healey’s voice while its companion book/sequel, Just One Year, is about Willem’s POV.
Just One Day didn’t affect me the way If I Stay did. I know it isn’t fair or even proper to compare the two books but I just wasn’t into Allyson’s character as much as I was into Mia’s. To be honest, I find Allyson very immature, rash, and irresponsible. My adult self wanted to smack her behind (or maybe pinch her ears?) for making such very irresponsible and unintelligent decisions although my younger self might be able to commiserate with her feelings of being choked up and for desiring to just break all the rules and be carefree. But still, no. Even my teenage self won’t have the courage (or the irresponsibility) to ever do what Allyson did, no matter how I long to be “free”.
What Allyson did was totally stupid and, I hate to say this again, perfectly irresponsible. I can conjure up different scenarios way different and more dangerous than what she had ended up in the book. She should be grateful she ended up meeting Willem and not some pervert or schizo. And how dare she talk to her parents, especially her mom, like that? So disrespectful and ungrateful, that’s what Allyson is.
The only redeeming factors about this book was the travel part, especially Paris, and Shakespeare. Paris! Who wouldn’t love Paris? And what is more, the Paris portrayed in the book isn’t not just the tourist-y Paris, but the Paris as seen by the Parisians themselves. And then of course, Shakespeare. I must admit that I am no great fan of the Bard, but reading this book has fanned my interest to read at least one Shakespeare play.
As much as I was indifferent towards Allyson, I was actually looking forward to Willem’s side of the story. And I was really of hoping that the sequel wouldn’t disappoint me because I desperately wanted to love all of Gayle Forman’s books.
My copy: Paperback by Dutton Books
Just One Yearby Gayle Forman
When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. . . .
The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents that happen—and the happiness we can find when the two intersect.
Just One Year follows the events after Just One Day left off, and this time told in Willem’s voice. I must say that I loved this more than the first book. In fact, I found Willem more endearing than Allyson. His character has depth and his wayward, carefree ways were not without basis. Why he did the things he did before he met Allyson were understandable as he was still coming to terms with an ugly, bitter past.
The travel parts were present in this sequel as well, but there were more countries involved, and I loved them all. The desire to get lost in an unknown city may not appeal to my geographically moron self, but I found my self egging Willem on in every instance that he ventures into a foreign land and consciously lose himself in the place . And of course, there is still Shakespeare, and together with the travelling, as in the first book, these were the parts that added flavor to my reading experience. I would really really love to visit Amsterdam soon!
Even though I wasn’t as “kilig” with the romance as I wanted to, owing to the fact that I disliked Allyson, I was in love with Willem’s character development. I liked how he came up with the decisions that he made and the choices he did to make his life better, happier, and worthwhile. What affected me most, more than his reunion with Allyson, was his encounters with his mom.
All in all, Just One Year was an engaging read. It made me teary-eyed at some parts but Adam and Mia will still be my most favourite Gayle Forman characters.
My copy: ebook