Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication date: January 8th 2013
My rating: 4 stars
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!
After reading and loving If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman, I was thrilled to hear Ms. Forman was working on a new novel, Just One Day. Just One Day was a bittersweet story that entranced me, took hold of my heart, and gave it a great big squeeze! My heart still aches.
Allyson is almost to the end of her graduation present, a three week trip touring Europe. She’s spent the time speed traveling through Europe, and is now in London on the last leg of the trip. On a whim and an accident, she meets charismatic Willem, a Dutch actor at the end of his tour performing the Shakespearean play, Twelfth Night. There is an instant connection and attraction. When he finds out that Allyson missed Paris and is about to travel home without seeing it, he insists she go there with him as her guide. Normally Allyson would never do such a thing. Break her plans, and do something spur of the moment and with a total stranger? No way. But the past few weeks of let down and disappointment from her trip have worn her down, and she’s ready to take a leap into the unknown. They spend an amazing and strange day together, and an incredible night, but when Allyson wakes, Willem is gone and left no clue where to find him.
Shattered, she goes home and tries to plunge into college but she just can’t shake the pain. Added to that, Allyson is enrolled in classes basically picked by her mother as a pre-med student. That one day doing as she pleased in Paris, had more of a profound effect on her than she realized, and she just can’t stomach going along with other’s expectations anymore.
This story broke my heart! The first third of the book had a dreamy but achy quality to it, because she’s spending this amazing but intense day with Willem, and you know it won’t last. She’s going home, and so is he, but I didn’t expect for him to just up and leave her! At that point on Allyson basically goes through a big depression and I felt like I went through it with her. As heartbreaking as the experience was, doing the unexpected was liberating for Allyson, and soon she starts to question what she really wants out of life.
I felt so bad for Allyson, I felt like she was bullied by her mother and her “friend,” Melanie. Spending time with these two sucked the confidence and will right out of her. I really couldn’t stand Melanie. At the beginning of the trip she was nothing but an attention hog, and put Allyson down continually. The mother was another character I couldn’t stand. She poured her own expectations into Allyson instead of letting her find what was right for her. I hate to say this, but I didn’t like Willem for most of the book either, and it seemed the more I found out about him, the more I hated him. However, hold that thought and don’t let that sway you too much against him. There is more to his story. Still, it wasn’t enough for me to like him,..…..yet. I’m hoping I see a completely different side of things from him in the next book, which apparently is in his POV. I hope to find out that appearances were misleading. I hope this for Allyson, and well, for me too! You know me, I want that happy ending.
Don’t read this if you haven’t read If I Stay. I have to think back to my feelings when I read it, and remember that for most of the story I had this achy feeling, as well. Yes, Adam and Mia loved each other, but looming ahead of them were their futures, which were about to take a very different and separate path. Even without the accident, they had a tough road ahead, and I kept wondering how things were going to work. This was multiplied tenfold when I started Where She Went and found out what happened! But tsk, tsk, ye of little faith (yes, that was me). Of course Gayle Forman made it right, and the heartbreak only made the end SO MUCH SWEETER! So I HAVE to believe this is what she will do here. Work her magic and heal my heart. We shall see. I will leave off with a swoony quote to soothe some of the heartache:
“As if disconnected to the rest of my body, my hand raises in the air and goes to touch his cheek. But before it arrives, Willem’s hand whips around and grabs my wrist. For one confused second, I think I’ve misread the situation again, am about to be refused. Willem holds my wrist for a long moment, looking at that birthmark. Then he lifts it to his mouth. And though his lips are soft and his kiss is gentle, it feels like a knife jamming into the electrical socket. It feels like the moment I go live.”*
*Quote is taken from and uncorrected proof and may change in the final copy.