Monday, January 28, 2013

Book Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Release Date: January 8, 2013
Published by: Dutton Juvenile

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

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!


A lot of bloggers have already posted reviews of this book (here and here are some good ones), and since I'm not sure that I really have a lot of new things to say, I thought I'd TRY to write a short review of my opinion, which somewhat aligns with this review by the New York Times.

There are two parts to this book: the day that Allyson spends with Willem, and the year that she spends trying to understand what happened and discover why *she* felt different when she was with him. Personally, I was a lot less interested in the romance portion than the self-discovery (unusual for me, seeing as I am a romance addict). The romance is shady and messy, which can be good in some circumstances in terms of realism/suspension of disbelief, but for the day that they're together, it makes it harder for me to believe in them as a couple (rather than say, a representation of another part of Allyson, buried deep until she realizes it). Plus, Willem is mysterious, potentially a player, potentially a good guy, and his amused smile/smirk irritated me. If I was in Allyson's position, I would have honestly thought he seemed at times condescending, no love interest at all. I'm sure the mystery of him, though, will fuel the sequel nicely.

But. I really enjoyed the portion of this book devoted to Allyson's experiences in college and with her parents. I enjoyed reading her thoughts on the day with Willem--even when she was depressed--and understanding why it had affected her so much. I especially liked seeing her grow, seeing her throw off the expectations others, like her parents, have of her and become her own person. Now I'll quote from the book to show you what I mean:
"'I was Lulu.' 
'But that was just a name. Just pretend.' 
Maybe it was. But still, that whole day, being with Willem, being Lulu, it made me realize that all my life I've been living in a small, square room, with no windows and no doors. And I was fine. I was happy, even. I thought. Then someone came along and showed me there was a door in the room. One that I'd never even seen before. Then he opened it for me. Held my hand as I walked through it. And for one perfect day, I was on the other side. I was somewhere else. Someone else. And then he was gone, and I was thrown back into my little room. And now, no matter what I do, I can't seem to find that door." (179)
Why I like this quote: Because you don't have to believe in the day that she has with Willem to understand this feeling. You can have any life changing experience with someone and then not know what to do when that experience ends. Her experience rings true. It's sad but feels authentic. And I felt that I could empathize a lot with Allyson in these moments. They also made her growth so much more poignant.
"Sometimes you can only feel something by its absence. By the empty space it leaves behind." (276)
Why I like this quote: Allyson is arguing with her mother, and this quote reflects not only the argument but the book at large. Sometimes you have to step back in order to understand what's going on around you and with you and your life. Personally I identified a lot with Allyson's struggles to throw off the expectations others have of her, but again I think that anyone could feel with and for her then.

I'm not terribly interested in Willem and wasn't too happy when Allyson went to find him. (I did enjoy it when she embraced her experiences with the others in hostel group. Que sera sera.) I think that Gayle Forman's got quite a bit of work laid out for her in Just One Year, but I am looking forward to reading more about Allyson and am hoping that Willem redeems himself. (And that Allyson's growth is not hampered in the process.)

All in all, I would recommend this book for the way it examines this young woman's journey to self-acceptance. Also, traveling. Also, college setting. :)

21 comments:

  1. Now, to be honest, I do think Willem's hot, but not in a way where I ship them at all. He's a hot mess, basically. However, I love that he brings her out of her shell. She wasn't ready for that obviously, but she needed to get out of her parents' overprotective influence.

    I read the romance more as part of the introspection than as a romance, so I really loved the whole thing. I know a lot of people didn't see it that way though.

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  2. I adore your review! I've heard mixed (mostly negative) things about the romance, but your review captivated me! I also love how you added quotes and said WHY you liked them. GREAT job!

    Sunny @ Blue Sky Bookshelf

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  3. It seems like the romance part of this one falls flat for most people (a shame because, like you, I am a romance addict. MORE ROMANCE ALWAYS!) but the back at college/finding herself aspect works really well. I have yet to read a book by Gayle Foreman, but I know I need to give her a try. I'm thinking I'll probably start with If I stay though.

    Also, got your comment about the Fever series/Iced - YESSSSSSS! Totally made my day, I'm so glad you loved those books as much as I did. I'm dying for the next Dani book:)

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  4. I've some great reviews and some not so great. I have really like Forman's writing and I am still looking forward to reading this. Great review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

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  5. Haha romance addict xD I'm one too, but I'll always love a good book which has more depth than that! Allyson sounds like a complicated character and I'll love to know her. Besides, all those raving reviews and hype has made me VERY VERY EAGER, I must make time for this awesome read soon! :DD

    -Alicia
    Book a World

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  6. awesome review. Thank you for sharing.

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  7. I came here, in this post, just because I enjoy read diferents POV from different people about the same thing. You know, I don't think it is frustrating or something like that, when some blogs talk about the same book or the same movie. It's different in every way.
    And I came here, with an expected "I don't liked this book" thought but it was completly changed by your review.
    I didn't know what to expect about Just One Day-- the one thing I was sure about was the romance. But the discover and the "self-changing-understanding" part that catch me the most.
    Love the double pov's, love the way it was written.
    You've made me change my mind.
    Found your blog by its giveaway, but i'm sure i'll visit it always now!

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  8. Lovely review! I still haven't had the chance to read this but from the quotes you shared, I think it'd be a book I can relate to. Sorry the romance fell flat. >.<

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  9. Now that I read the review no so sure if a would like the book. Still seems interesting.
    Great review :)

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  10. @Christina - Willem could be an interesting character--which is what I'm hoping to see in JUST ONE YEAR. I too liked that he brought her out of her shell. Honestly, the romance was pretty introspective, but I just took that more as Allyson's character than the chemistry between the characters, if that makes sense.

    @Sunny - Thanks! First time I've used quotes in a review. Didn't want to write out a full 10 +/- list.

    @Jenny - Some people have actually liked the romance, or have taken it as a part of Allyson's growth so it hasn't bothered them as much. And yes! You should read IF I STAY. So fantastic! Gayle Forman's one of my fav authors :).

    @Jenea - That's great! I hope you enjoyed reading it :).

    @Alicia - Romance addicts unite! Allyson is complicated and introspective and learns to choose her future for herself. And yes! Wasn't that a fantastic pub campaign by Penguin?

    @Dorothy & Thayna - Thank you.

    @Lynn - I also hope it's a book you'll enjoy!

    @Dani - Thanks! Hopefully you'll give it another chance though!

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  11. Willem could be an interesting character--which is what I'm hoping to see in JUST ONE YEAR. I too liked that he brought her out of her shell. Honestly, the romance was pretty introspective, but I just took that more as Allyson's character than the chemistry between the characters, if that makes sense.

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  12. Thanks! First time I've used quotes in a review. Didn't want to write out a full 10 +/- list.

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  13. Some people have actually liked the romance, or have taken it as a part of Allyson's growth so it hasn't bothered them as much. And yes! You should read IF I STAY. So fantastic! Gayle Forman's one of my fav authors :).

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  14. That's great! I hope you enjoyed reading it :).

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  15. Romance addicts unite! Allyson is complicated and introspective and learns to choose her future for herself. And yes! Wasn't that a fantastic pub campaign by Penguin?

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  16. Thanks! Hopefully you'll give it another chance though!

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  17. Great review! I read If I Stay and Where She Went and I really loved those, but I haven't read this one yet. I wonder if there will be a sequel?

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  18. I love that long quote you mentioned too. Right after I read the book I added it onto Goodreads. I agree about it not having to be just about her relationship with Willem, too. I have had several times where I was so happy doing something or being with someone and when it ended it was sort of like "Well... now what?" It's a universal feeling.

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