Just One Day by Gayle Forman (Just One Day #1) – Review

August 26, 2013 Review 7 ★★★★★

Just One Day by Gayle Forman (Just One Day #1) – ReviewRelease Date: January 8, 2013
Title: Just One Day
Series: Just One Day #1
Author: Gayle Forman
Pages: 368
Publisher: Dutton Books
Source: Library
Available: Barnes and Noble | Kobo | iBookstore | The Book Depository | Powell's
From the Publisher: 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!
5 Stars

I went to the library this past Friday to pick up two very specific graphic novels. But when I saw Just One Day on the shelf, I knew I had to read it. There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the book, and I thought it was high time I found out why.

And now I completely understand.

Note: This will be one of my more spoilery reviews, though I don’t give away anything from the main part of the story. I am re-telling a portion of the beginning only.

Allyson Healey has always set out on the path that was laid in front of her. And when that path was chosen at a young age, it can be very hard to distinguish who set the course of the path. Are these Allyson’s hopes, dreams, and goals? Or are they her parents? Allyson has never questioned these things before – until a single day in Paris changes her life.

After she graduates high school, her parents send her on a tour of Europe with her best friend. Everything is planned and chaperoned, but Allyson never strays from the itinerary to join her friend Melanie and the others in the evenings while they party where the legal drinking age is only 18. Allyson is too reliable for that.

Then she meets Willem.

Willem is an actor in a traveling troupe called Guerrilla Will – a group that performs Shakespeare on the streets (without permits) so that anyone and everyone can see them. And something about Willem – his voice or his eyes – causes Allyson to make her first adventurous decision on the trip. She and Melanie ditch the pre-planned showing of Hamlet with the group and watch Willem’s troupe perform Twelfth Night. It is unlike anything Allyson has seen before. She knows she caught his attention – he tossed a prop coin to her during the show – but afterwards, he disappeared.

Allyson and Melanie are scheduled to leave for London the next morning to spend their last few days in Europe with Mel’s family. But Allyson finds Willem on the train.

And Lulu is born (Willem thinks Allyson looks like Louise Brooks, so rather than ask her for her name, he calls her Lulu, short for Louise).

Willem discovers that Lulu didn’t get a chance to go to Paris on her trip, and he offers to take her for a single day. Something about being given a different persona causes Allyson to jump at the chance, something she would ordinarily never do. She begs Melanie to cover for her for the day and she goes with Willem.

For Just One Day.

I won’t tell you what happened that day. Or the year that followed it. But I will tell you that a single day altered the trajectory of Allyson’s life. It made her find herself – her true self.

It’s an emotional journey many of us find ourselves on. Which path do we take? Is this course mine or am I just trying to please someone else?

It’s not easy. But it is definitely worth it.

Allyson’s journey was heartbreaking and beautiful and honestly, I didn’t want it to end. I could see myself in her.

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.

That’s a revelation that everyone should have at some point. And then they need to find a way to keep that door open.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman has skyrocketed to the top of my favorites list. I can’t wait to read the sequel, Just One Year.

What Others Are Saying:

  • Dear AuthorTheoretically, I like the idea of chance meetings altering the shape of your life. But what I dislike is that chance meeting becoming the source of all your sadness, joy, and motivation.
  • Lauren’s Crammed BookshelfShe really managed to make me feel Allyson’s emotions throughout the book, and while at times I wanted nothing more than to tell Allyson off, it really allowed for this book as well as its character to find a special place in my heart.
  • Reading In WinterGayle Forman is a magnificent writer and I found myself smiling and swooning throughout most of this novel, completely entranced by Allyson’s story, and craving to learn French and to eat macarons by the end.

7 Responses to “Just One Day by Gayle Forman (Just One Day #1) – Review”

  1. Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies

    Great review! I was also surprised by how much I loved this book! I had heard about Gayle Forman before, but hadn’t read any of her books. Just One Day was much deeper than I’d expected, and I really appreciated that it was much more about Allyson’s personal growth than just about a romance with a cute guy. I can’t wait to read the sequel!

    • Mandi Kaye

      I’m dying to read the sequel. I don’t think Willem was quite the rake that Allyson thought he was. I want to know what happened to him.

      • Lisa @ Bookshelf Fantasies

        I agree! I think that Allyson’s perception of where Willem is in his life at the end of the book is going to be off-base — otherwise, there’s not much of a story to tell in book 2! Although I suppose the sequel will cover the same year, but from his perspective. Should be interesting!

  2. Deb Atwood

    Interesting premise. What I like about this is that it appears she makes her own journey rather than simply depending on Wilhelm. Sounds like an intriguing novel.

    • Mandi Kaye

      It is definitely about her journey, not the romance. The romance took place over a single day while the novel spans a year. It was refreshing to see a novel explore the consequences of love, rather than extol the virtues of love.

  3. Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader

    It sounds as though I need to conquer my reservations and sit down and finally read this novel. While it does sound like something I would enjoy in the same vein as Jessi Kirby’s work, for whatever reason I’ve never had much interest in Forman’s work despite all the accolades and attention she continually receives. Come to think of it, it might be the hype that has always dissuaded me from reading Just One Day, but I really shouldn’t let that stop me!

    If I’m being honest, Willem does sound a little pretentious and off-putting as a character, but from what I understand his role in Just One Day is thankfully relatively short-lived. I would hope that the novel focuses more on Allyson’s quest for self discovery and less on the romance between the two characters. I guess I’ll have to read it and find out for myself 😉

    This was an absolutely lovely review, Mandi, and a true pleasure to read. If the novel is half as beautiful, I think I’ll be in for a treat! 😀

    • Mandi Kaye

      You are too kind Jen!

      I don’t think Willem is as bad as you think he is. I understand why you think that, but if you read the book – by the time you get to the end of it, you might have a different opinion.

      And yes, the book absolutely focuses on self-discovery and not on the romance.

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