Just One Day by Gayle Forman
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.
2013 has only just begun and I may have already found my favorite book of the year! Just One Day was a heartbreaking and beautifully written story that I devoured in only a few hours. I am ashamed to say this is my first book by Forman, but it will certainly not be my last. The setting, the characters, the plot, the romance.. everything about Just One Day was perfect and I can honestly say I do not know how I am going to wait for Just One Year to be released!
Allyson Healey and her best friend Melanie travel to Europe after high school graduation, but it is definitely not the trip of a lifetime that Allyson was anticipating. They were part of a tour that dragged them through cities at a breakneck pace and neither of the girls truly got to experience the real Europe. Or at least not until Allyson meets Willem and her life is changed forever. Instead of going to London with her friend Melanie at the end of their tour, Allyson goes with Willem to Paris.
There were a variety of unique and interesting characters in Just One Day, but the book focuses on Allyson and Willem. They are two of my new favorite characters. Allyson was a sheltered, careful American girl and Willem was an adventurous Dutch actor. I loved seeing how Allyson grew and changed over the course of the novel and it was amazing to see her break out of her shell and learn to stand on her own two feet. In just one day, both Allyson and the reader got to know and fall in love with Willem and that was a day Allyson will never forget.
Seeing how Allyson's life changed after Willem left her in Paris was heartbreaking. She started college away from Melanie and as a high school senior myself, I often wonder what my college experience will be like. For Allyson, it started off rough, but with the help of friends and a Shakespeare Out Loud class, she is able to open up and begin to turn her life around. Also seeing how Melanie changed in college and what happened with her friendship with Allyson was extremely realistic.
My heart broke many times over the course of Just One Day and this was a very difficult review to write because there are just no words to truly describe how great this book is-- you have to read it for yourself. Allyson was one of the most complex characters I have ever read about and I was rooting for her from the start.
This review would not be complete without mentioning the setting for Just One Day. I have been lucky enough to have traveled to Europe several times, but seeing everything through Allyson's eyes made me want to hop on a plane to Paris and experience everything all over again.
Just One Day was an incredibly real and bittersweet novel by Gayle Forman. It takes place at one of those turning points in all of our lives-- the summer before college; when you are still feeling like a high school student, but are about to leave that life behind forever. Allyson and Willem were two fantastically layered and passionate characters that I am missing already. The ending left me anxious for Just One Year's release and I know I will be recommending this over and over again.
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
January 8, 2013/Dutton Juvenile/368 Pages/Young Adult/Book One
Source: Trade (ARC)