Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman


Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day, #1
Published: January 8th, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
368 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Contemporary young adult
Acquired this book: From the library
Warning: May contain spoilers
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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.



When it comes to books with a lot of hype surrounding them, there seem to be two types of readers: those who are inclined to stay far away, and those who rush to read hyped books because they’re curious and/or want to see what all the fuss is about. I seem to fall somewhere in the middle, depending on the book. If a hyped book sounds interesting - which in the case of Just One Day was true; contemporary YA + Paris + romance = YES PLEASE - I’m eager to get my hands on the book.

Because so many of my friends loved Just One Day, I assumed I would too. But I have to be honest: when I started it, I felt very indifferent toward it. I loved the setting and I was really excited over the idea of Allyson spontaneously taking off to Paris with a cute stranger, and I even mostly enjoyed her time with Willem, but…Allyson really annoyed me. We have similar personalities - introverted, always trying to do the ‘right thing’, etc - so I understood her fears and doubts, but what annoyed me was how she overreacted to everything and became sullen really easily. By the time she came back home and started college, I was ready to throw the book across the room. She drove me crazy with all her sulking and pining over a guy she knew for one day. I just didn’t get it, and I also didn’t get the appeal of the book and why everyone was raving about it.

Allyson became so obsessed with Willem and what happened to him that she forgot to live. She just coasted along in this half-life, totally miserable and oblivious to the people around her. She was this odd mixture of selfless - doing what she thought would make her parents happy - and selfish - so consumed with her own unhappiness that she didn’t see anyone or anything outside herself.

Then suddenly about halfway through, the book did a complete 180 and things became clear. When Allyson joined Shakespeare Out Loud and met Dee, everything changed, both in the book, and in my eyes. I absolutely adored Dee, and how, through him, Allyson’s eyes were opened to what her life was like and what it could be if she’d just pull her head out of her ass.

After that point, I was totally invested. Allyson still did a few things that made me shake my head, but it was more of that indulgent way you do when your friends do something stupid. I understood it and sympathized with her, because she was trying. I began to not only like, but also respect Allyson and the choices she was making. She took chances, did things to make herself happy and not just her parents. She became who she wanted to be and not who she thought she should be.

This book, once I got into it, was so beautiful it brought me to tears. Allyson’s struggles and her journey of self-discovery were poignant and so real. I loved that she had the courage to open herself up to people and life and possibilities. She made friends, she took chances, she grew and learned and changed, and it was beautiful.

Just One Day held such a powerful message about finding yourself and not letting someone else dictate who you are. We only really knew Willem for a short period and while he was basically the catalyst for Allyson’s whole journey - both physical and emotional - it was more his absence than anything that sparked the change in Allyson, and I loved that. It was a different kind of love story; the kind where a girl learns to love herself and the people who are there for her instead of losing herself in/to a guy.

With a fantastic cast of characters, exciting settings that will ignite your wanderlust, and a message that will go straight to your heart, Just One Day is a must-read for a fans of contemporary young adult. 

“We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.” ~ page 130

“He showed me how to get lost, and then I showed myself how to get found.” ~ 367

  
Have you read Just One Day? What did you think? If you haven't read it, does it sound like something you'd be interested in? Do you think it's possible for your whole life to change in just one day? 
 

3 comments:

  1. Based on your second to last paragraph, you can probably see why this book hit me so hard and why I loved it so much. ;) Kind of a BIG "hits close to home" moment, especially since I read it in the spring. After reading your review and reminding myself of the feelings attached, now I'm super anxious to get my hands on Just One Year to complete the story.

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  2. “He showed me how to get lost, and then I showed myself how to get found.”

    So. This quote MAY have inspired me to finally buy this one. I'm adding it to my Amazon cart now. Because, reasons. I have a feeling that I will click with Allyson after some reading, too. :D

    Lovely review, girl. You really made me think a lot about this one and want to experience it for myself.

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  3. Beautiful review, for what's turning out to be such a beautiful book. I am really glad that I splurged for a copy on my Kindle. Allyson and I are similar in some ways and not so much in other's, so I'm kind of having that feeling about her that you did in the beginning. I've hit the middle of the book where she's in college and I'm really excited to see her really come into who she is, love herself, and not really let something else that happened define who she becomes. :)

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~Marie

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