Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)by Published 20 Aug 2013
|Just One Day (Just One Day, #1).pdf|
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 (Just One Day, #1)" Reviews
"Ain't such a line between faking and being."
My heart is saying yes but my head is saying absolutely not. So I guess it's only fair that I appease the two of them and rate exactly down the middle. To be honest, I have come to expect more from Ms Forman's characters. I found it extremely difficult to care about either Allyson or Willem, especially the latter. While I came to appreciate Allyson's story more in the second half and had my heart singing along to the sad tunes of heartbreak, I never came to care much about Willem. Something which became even more obvious when I recently decided to try the sequel - Just One Year.
I've been putting this book off because of the mixed reviews I've seen online but I finally gave into my need to check out everything by my favourite authors. This story is about an American girl called Allyson who goes on a tour around various European cities in the summer before she is due to start college. Allyson has always been the straight-laced, err-on-the-side-of-caution kinda girl, but a meeting with a boy in London seems set to change all of that... if only for just one day.
In a completely spur of the moment decision, Allyson decides to do something crazy for once and runs away to Paris with Willem where they spend one day and night together. When she wakes in the morning, Allyson discovers that Willem has disappeared. Disappointed, she returns to her life in the US and tries to carry on with College and forget about Willem. But she sinks deeper and deeper into depression. With the help of new friends, Allyson decides that all might not be lost after all, and that what she is really seeking might go deeper than a boy she only knew for one day.
Surprisingly, the second half of this book worked for me more than the first. The first half (or third) is certainly more action-packed with spontaneous trips to Paris and a whirlwind romance. But I was so irritated by Allyson and her upper middle class white girl problems... she gets to travel around all these amazing cities in Europe and she feels sorry for herself because the cities "weren't like the movies". Boo freaking hoo. Am I supposed to pity her because she got to go on a trip of a lifetime and just sulked at every stop? Well, I didn't.
She is also a complete Mary Sue. Whine, whine, whine about all these other girls that are more beautiful than she is... but everyone still seems to think she's hot anyway. Is there any female character in this book that Allyson doesn't view with disdain? She's jealous of the overtly sexual Celine, she constantly compares herself to her also overtly sexual friend - Melanie, even her own mother is portrayed negatively. I might expect this from some authors, but not Gayle Forman. I also didn't expect Forman to be all tell and no show with Willem's characterization. Apparently he's charming, but I never saw any evidence of it.
The second half appealed to me more because I could understand and appreciate a story about a young woman suffering from depression more than I could understand and appreciate a story about a poor little rich girl who discovered the big wide world wasn't as sparkly as it looked from her mansion window. I thought this second part of the book was realistic and sad - really touching in parts. I especially loved the Shakespeare parallels and the whole theme of pretending to be someone you're not... and how maybe that pretense is as much a part of you as the person you are the rest of the time.
By the time the ending rolled around, I was stood there right in the middle of the story with Allyson. My heart was pounding with dread and anticipation at what she would find. I finished it knowing that no matter how much Willem didn't float my boat, I would still have to read the sequel just to find out what happens. Because I cared. And I suppose that made the earlier disappointment worth it.
Blog | Leafmarks | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr
Are you looking for a whimsical romance filled with love songs and fiery kisses? Are you searching for a story with constant adventure, brimming with beauty and overflowing with passion?
If so, stop. Just One Day is not one of those books. It is not shallow. It is not like Anna and the French Kiss. It is beautiful, but in a bittersweet, lyrical, and oftentimes melancholy way. This is a book for people who have ever felt lost, for those who know what it feels like to be unsure of who they are, or of who they want to be.
After her senior year of high school, good girl Allyson Healey embarks on a journey to Europe. Except it’s not really a journey at all, or even a trip – just a boring tour with her blond best friend Melanie. That is until she sees a magical performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and one of the actors flips her coin. By chance she encounters this actor – Willem – again on a train, but their relationship turns an entirely different direction when she decides to spend a day with him in Paris. There she becomes Lulu, an adventurous soul with no reservations, and she discovers a side of herself with Willem she comes to love in less than 24 hours. But the next day she wakes up and Willem is gone. Allyson spends the next year struggling to find herself, who she thought she was, and who she’s turning out to be.
If New Adult becomes a tangible genre in the realm of fiction, this is what it needs to be like. Just One Day is not a sexual love story. Depending on how you define the concept, it might not even be a love story at all. It encompasses all of the emotions associated with coming of age, going back and forth between growth, angst, hope, and sadness.
Reading Just One Day reminded me why I loved Gayle Forman’s first book, If I Stay. Like I’ve tried to repeat in this review, it’s not your typical love story where the protagonists meet, slowly fall in love, have a falling out, get back together, and live happily ever after. It’s far from that. Allyson thinks she comes close to finding herself after one day with Willem, but breaks apart once he’s gone. Her character screams of vulnerability, insecurity, and nuance, but has that spark of relatability and that whisper of strength that urges you to cheer her on. The other characters in the book: Allyson’s helicopter mom, her well-meaning yet lacking best friend, the shape-shifting black student she meets at college, etc. are all finely developed and feel strikingly real.
Forman’s writing blew me away too. She described France, Holland, and each and every one of Allyson’s experiences richly and completely. Her attention to subtle details within her characters’ dialogue and actions as well as her pacing of the story did more than satisfy me. While this isn’t a dark, dangerous action-adventure novel its progression through Allyson’s bildungsroman backed by its sheer emotional maturity makes it one of the best realistic fiction books I’ve read.
There are numerous themes that come together to form Just One Day. But my favorite has to be that of identity and discovering the truth about oneself. By the end of this book Allyson hasn’t just found herself after that one tragic day. She’s created herself, and I can’t wait to see where Forman takes her and Willem next.
*review cross-posted on my blog, the quiet voice.
THIS WAS SO GOOD! I read this while traveling which was the BEST idea. I love how we got to experience so many different countries and meet so many different people without the story getting confusing. Allyson grew so much as a character and ahhhh I just loved it! Now I definitely have to go out and get Just One Year and read it ASAP.
I THINK THIS IS THE BEST CONTEMPORARY OF ALL TIME AND IF YOU DISAGREE WITH ME EVEN SLIGHTLY I MIGHT CRY A LITTLE BIT AND IT WILL BE SO, SO UNCOMFORTABLE FOR US BOTH SO YOU SHOULD PROBABLY JUST AGREE.
I genuinely love this book. I have for four years now, but like. A lot has changed in that time. Perhaps most significantly, I had braces four years ago. That doesn't have anything to do with why my feelings on this book would have changed, but I believe it had the most significant impact on my evolving personality.
But also four years ago, I was a lil thing. I mean, I was still very tall then, but lil emotionally. Much nicer. I liked every book I read. (I know. It's insane to imagine.)
So the fact that I reread this 2-3 times during a period when I did not reread Any Books is not enough for me to be confident that I would still like this book. Because I have very little in common with fifteen-year-old me. I've straight up one-starred at least 3 books I gave 5 stars in 2015. THAT'S TWO YEARS AGO.
But four years passed, I full on changed as a person, but GUESS WHAT STAYED THE SAME.
If you guessed "my love for this book," YOU'RE TODAY'S WINNER.
We follow Allyson, who at the beginning of this book is hashtag enveloped in an extremely overcontrolled tour of Europe called Teen Tours! (Totally rockin' name.) She is with her friend Mel who is hotter than her, which is pretty classic. But then a Very Attractive boy (man, I guess) comes up and is more into Allyson!!!! Also very classic.
But what is (unfortunately) not very classic and what makes me love this book so freakin much is Allyson's character arc. I can only describe it in one way, and that way is EXTRAORDINARILY LIT.
Allyson is very play-by-the-rules. She does not like to take risks. Her life is therefore very boring. However, when Hottie McDottie Many-Language-Speaking Backpacking Boy-Man (Willem, somewhat of a babe) invites them to a Shakespearean street show he’s in, she’s like, ya ok. Even though that means lying and stuff!! Stuff she doesn't do!! Wild.
So she goes and sees it, it's all dandy, he throws a coin at her (more romantic than it sounds, supposedly), and that's that.
EXCEPT IT’S NOT! This full-on worldly total babe is on her train to London. And GUESS THE F*CK WHAT. They go to spend a day in Paris together.
I'm going to say that again.
Whaaaat. That would already be a pretty good book. I love me some v simplistic cheesy romances set in Paris. (See: Anna and the French Kiss.)
And this part of the book, where they’re bein’ all romancey in Paris, is definitely fab. But it makes up, like, a third of the whole thing.
IT'S THE REMAINING TWO THIRDS THAT MAKE THE BOOK FOR ME.
When Allyson wakes up in Paris, Willem’s gone. Which sucks. And then she spends the rest of the book wondering what happened to the Paris-version of her, who’s like, open to adventure and says yes and is up for anything. And then she goes the f*ck for it baby!!! She tries to ~find herself~!!!!
IT'S NOT JUST A PARIS ROMANCE. IT'S 33% PARIS ROMANCE, 67% AMAZING CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. I.E., IDEAL.
I'm honestly sorry about all the caps lock. I'M VERY ENTHUSIASTIC.
So. Maybe this book isn't perfect but I'm not open to the idea that it isn't. Because this book is pretty goddamn inspiring to me. I don't want to be cheesy or heartfelt or emotionally honest because that's profoundly off-brand for me and also generally unpleasant, but I can be kiiiiind of non-risk taking and rule-following sometimes...but most of the best times of my life have been when I wasn't being that way.
(i.e., have happened when I was drunk.)
(JUST KIDDING! Kind of.)
Anyway, I'M JUST TRYING TO SAY THIS BOOK IS MOTIVATIONAL AND #REAL.
I'm highkey cringing myself so it must be well past end-this-review o'clock.
I will finish by saying: Willem is pretty hot in this book and all, and that’s a nice bonus, but what is really cool about this book is Allyson.
Bottom line: if you don't like this book you're wrong; Allyson is my daughter; let's all go get drunk in Paris and land some Willems.
AMAZING NEWS: I loved this book just as much rereading it as I did in twenty goddamn thirteen.
Like, 2017 me: Bitter vessel of hatred; one stars books she used to love; in the midst of a Reread Extravaganza that is going, on average, quite badly.
2013 me: Fifteen, enjoys the simple things in life, still has braces I think, mentally rates every book highly (doesn't have a Goodreads yet).
But those two selves form a lopsided Venn diagram. And in the needlepoint-small cross section of that diagram: a love for this book. And also for sweets.
I legitimately, earnestly, worry- and sarcasm-free can't wait to read the sequel.
Review to come!!!
this is the series that really got me into contemporaries. i remember waiting for the second one for like, a year. i read this three times in that time. i still adore the characters
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Nearly a decade ago, someone once told me that books are like memories; within their pages, they store your emotions and thoughts, a document of sorts of your experience. I still don’t know how true that statement is, but I dearly hope it is – at least when it comes to Just One Day. Nothing better than this book itself can summon up the whirlwind of emotion I felt when I read it. Although I cracked open its spine with trepidation – there are, after all, a plethora of mixed reviews out there – my feelings quickly changed from that of anxiety to excitement as I was swept up alongside Allyson on her breathtaking journey. At one point, I wasn’t sure if I was laughing or crying for I was so full of giddy happiness and bittersweet longing - those are the types of feelings a Gayle Forman novel inspires in you. I finished Just One Day with a smile on my face, my heart swelling with pride for Allyson, who felt as close to me as my own best friend, and although the pang I feel when I think of this novel is only an echo of what I feel for Forman’s If I Stay and Where She Went duo, I still love it, albeit in an entirely different way.
Just One Day is a novel that will very easily either captivate or disappoint readers. It’s a New Adult novel that almost demands that you be a teenager to truly understand it, for Allyson’s journey is such a personal and nostalgic experience, one that everyone can definitely relate to. One of the best ways I can find to summarize it is a realistic rendition of Kristen Hubbard’s Wanderlove. Although Wanderlove is one of my favorite books of all time, I can’t deny that the chances of traveling to a new country and finding a hitchhiker to explore with are rather low. Thus, Allyson’s summer experience in Europe, a disappointing one full of touristy stops and not enough life is easier to relate to. When Willem, an enigmatic Dutch actor who Allyson sees performing Shakespeare in London, offers to take her around Paris – for just one day – she agrees, despite her goody-two-shoes attitude.
What follows is a day of whirlwind journey; it isn’t perfect, but it’s real and it’s far more rewarding than any other trip on Allyson’s summer vacation. Perhaps best of all, to Allyson at least, is that she is no longer Allyson, the girl who listens to her parents, studies hard, and never lives life the way so many other teens do; now, she’s “Lulu”, a nickname Willem gives her, and as “Lulu,” Allyson is finally free to let loose the person she truly is inside. Nevertheless, her exhilarating journey is abruptly halted when, the next morning, Willem is gone. Now, Allyson is distraught, both at thinking that Willem may have just used her and at contemplating her life in college as a pre-med student – a path that her mother, not her, wants to follow. As Allyson will learn, however, her day in Paris wasn’t about Willem at all – it was about her and finding out that she was more than she – or anyone else – ever quite imagined.
Just One Day, as I’m sure countless reviews have stated, is a journey of self-discovery. Although I will admit that it isn’t wholly original, it is certainly memorable. Allyson has a certain vulnerability about her that makes her impossible not to love. In Paris, she may have been pretending to be “Lulu”, but that was who she really was and she struggles to find a way to be that person again, all while continuing to please her parents and hold onto her childhood best friend, Melanie, who constantly reinvents herself. One of my favorite aspects of this tale was the subtle heartbreak that came not only with seeing Allyson and Melanie grow apart, but also Allyson and her parents. In their place, however, Allyson makes new friends, never replacing those from her past, but simply realizing that growing up also means leaving room for new people to join her life, such as Dee, the African American boy she meets in her “Shakespeare Out Loud” class; the person who shows her that although she has many personas – “Lulu”, pre-med student Allyson, reliable Allyson – who she really is is a mixture of all the roles she plays, and still so much more.
In my eyes, what makes Just One Day such a hit-or-miss novel is the mere fact that Allyson is a character trying to find her place in the world. After her trip to Paris, she comes to the stark realization that no one really sees her – not her parents, not her best friends, no one – except for Willem. Willem, who took a bargain in spending a day with her, unknowingly changed her entire life, not just because of who he was, but in what he brought out inside her. What I loved about this story was that Allyson found herself again - finds herself again – and this time, without Willem. It is this journey, this third journey almost; the first being her wake-up call, the second being her slow emergence from the typical life she leads that isn’t really hers, to this now final journey of finding who she is all through her own experience, her own friends, her own interests, and her own initiatives. It’s beautiful.
Nevertheless, I will admit that Just One Day is not a perfect story. For one, some secondary characters, such as Allyson’s father, are astonishingly underdeveloped, lacking personality when surrounded by such well-fleshed out characters. Furthermore, this novel failed to impact me on an emotional level equal to that of If I Stay or Where She Went. I can’t really pinpoint what it is that made this novel fall for me, but a certain aura or fully nuanced aspect of Allyson, perhaps, was missing. Unlike other readers, however, I was never bothered by the mysterious figure that Willem remained throughout the novel. If anything, I loved the way he was portrayed in this book – a traveler, a lonely young man, a player…or someone who we’ve all just judged too quickly, because, perhaps, there’s more to him and his story than what we see before our eyes. Yet, what I liked best was that he didn’t reappear in this story – once he left, he was gone and then it was all Allyson and the manner in which she came to terms with who he was and what he did for her, changing her life, was remarkable.
Just One Day is a novel that just must be read. It is beautifully written and to see Forman take on something different – the idea of living truly and happily instead of the idea of choosing between life and death – was refreshing. Of course, there are many authors who have written self-discovery novels in the past, and I have liked some of them more than this one, but Forman’s tales just never leave my head. I was thinking about this the whole day, ever since I finished it last night (at 11:54, which means I actually read Just One Day in exactly a day!), and I am still convinced that I have not extracted the full depth and meaning that this story has to offer. It’s a universal tale, one that will transport you to other countries, make you feel emotions you thought you could never feel, and ultimately, just as it changed Allyson, it will change a small particle of you too.
You can read this review and more on my blog, Ivy Book Bindings.