Just One Day (Just One Day #1) Featured
A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I StayWhen 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!
Refreshing, Humorous and Deep...
What I Loved:
I'm really starting to think I need to spend more time in the Contemporary genre. Right from the start I knew I would love this book. Allyson reminds me so much of my younger self. She's unsure of herself, follows the rules to the T, is more focused on the approval of other around her verses what she wants, etc. I'm sure we could all relate to feeling that way at one point in our lives and that's what made this book real for me. While Allyson is traveling Europe with her teen tour group, she stumbles across Willem, who seems to be the opposite of herself. So for just one day, Allyson decides take a few chances, takes up the alter ego "Lulu" and becomes the spontaneous traveler.
What I loved about Just One Day is how Allyson both loses herself that day in Paris and later finds herself over the course of a year afterwards. When all is said and done and she has to resume her life after being left by Willem, she's broken, a mere shadow of who she thought she was. I think it was there that I truly started to connect with Allyson on a deeper level. Here we have a former honor student struggling to get by in her college courses, struggling to keep former relationships intact and struggling at making new ones. What I found most interesting is that it's not her relationship with Willem that metaphorically heals her, but the secondary characters she meets at college. How often do we read in YA novels the male heart-throb being the catalyst for change in the heroine? Too often, in my opinion. Allyson's change is gradual and is due to various people and experiences, most of which have nothing to do with Willem. Ya know, pretty much how life is supposed to work.
I went into this story expecting some sort of fluffy romantic contemporary novel, but I guess I should have known it wouldn't be that simple. I suppose that's what I get for being fashionably late to the Gayle Forman party. *dons her party hat* What I got was a novel that really examines that feeling of uncertainty of who we choose to be, how others perceive us, and how those two situations are sometimes mutually exclusive. The feeling of enlightenment I had with Just One Day was very similar to how I felt while reading Wanderlove, which also features a girl searching for answers, but ends up finding so much more.
Then, of course, you have the fantastic setting of Paris. I've always wanted to go to Paris and one day I intend to. But while I was reading, it was so easy to visualize the french cafes, the old buildings, the culture. This is the second travel type novel I've read and it's a wonderful change in scenery. High school angst vs. Europe. I think we know who wins that round.
What Left Me Wanting More:
If there is one thing I have to nitpick, it'd be the ending. Not that it was bad, but I think it has more to do with personal tastes. It's also where I found myself conflicted. Right after finishing Just One Day, I felt I needed more, that I wasn't completely satisfied with the ending. I wanted her to find Willem and to figure out what happened. But on further reflection I realized something. This wasn't about Willem. It was about Allyson finding herself. So clever, Forman. But I still want to know what happens after that door opens. So, I think it goes without saying that I'll be needing Just One Year. Hehe.
I love novels that take me away from the usual and make me think. Just One Day was just what I needed. Refreshing, humorous and deep.
Just One Day had three of my favorite story lines, travel, friendship, and love. I loved so much about this book and it is one that I will be sure to recommend over and over.
First of all, I wasn't expecting the depth that this plot would have. This is not a book that you can just put down and walk away from. This is a story that will stay with you. Allyson is an amazing character. I think readers will be pulling for her the entire time because after her amazing day in Paris, that just cannot be it for her and Willem's story.
There were a lot of relationships that Allyson struggled with throughout the book. I thought each character in the book was an important piece to Allyson's journey. Each person was weaved seamlessly into the story line which made the overall book flow so well.
I personally cannot wait to read the companion story that is told from Willem's point of view. Through his brief relationship with Allyson we haven't learned a whole lot about him yet. I cannot wait to read what Willem thinks about their day in Paris and what happens afterwards.
Gayle Forman Excels in Feels
Words fail me on a fairly regular basis, refusing to come to the call of my immediate need or to properly describe the feelings I want to convey. Actually, this partially explains my lifelong search for other people's words with which to fill myself up, to borrow and learn from. My life consists of a perpetual search not just for knowledge and meaning, but of the best ways to put those things into the precise diction that will allow me to share these insights with other in powerful ways. My favorite authors, Gayle Forman included, excel at conveying big life lessons in simple, natural ways, not so much handing down truths from their lofty, genius heights, but making you feel their truth in your core. Unfortunately, I do not yet posses this talent, so I will probably fail to properly describe the power of Just One Day to you, especially because there is so much of it that I cannot discuss, because I think this novel is best enjoyed completely without conception of where its headed.
For some reason, perhaps because I read just a little bit of the blurb, I imagined Just One Day to be a happy sort of contemporary novel, perhaps a slightly darker companion to Meant to Be, which also opens with a trip to London and includes numerous Shakespeare references. I really should have known better, having enjoyed the darkness of Forman's If I Stay and Where She Went. Forman positively shines at making the reader run the whole gamut of emotions right alongside the main character. Just One Day made me smile, laugh, sigh, swoon, and ache in my heart for Allyson. During the hours I had to stop reading and go to work, I could not stop thinking of her plight, and those thoughts came with an almost physical level of discomfort and worry for Allyson. Basically, any novel that can make me care so much rates exceedingly highly with me, particularly because that only happens in novels with marvelous characterization.
For those of you who like to take vacations through literature, this book will be such a great friend. There are so many sights and places to be experienced within its pages. Even better, they're not just the touristy highlights, but also the more basic culture. I had so many flashbacks to my own European travels, like how you really do meet Australians in hostels everywhere, and they're really loud and sociable, and how Europeans really do like to help, offering up extraordinary experiences and waving away offers of payment.
Yesterday, I posted on instalove in YA literature, and how tired I get of the relatively unvaried romantic plot lines in the majority of the fiction. Well, Just One Day was such a fitting read to embark upon after that, because I felt as though Forman targeted a lot of that and wrote something unique and meaningful and unflinchingly honest. What she did with the romance, though I cannot tell you what that was, I approve.
Forman differs quite a bit in her portrayal of family as well. In young adult fiction, parents are notoriously absent, allowing the teens to have adventures parents would never approve. Actually, Allyson's mother and father are not in that much of the novel, as she spends most of it on vacation or at college, but, though not physically with her, they are almost constantly present. An only child, her parents have exceedingly high expectations for her and seem determined to have her fulfill them, pressuring her and preventing her from figuring out who she really is until she has the space of this first year away from home to really come of age.
Of course, I wanted to twirl around with happiness during nigh every reference to Shakespeare, especially during analytical discussions of his works. However, I also felt a strong correlation to another of my favorite classic works, A Room with a View by E.M. Forster, which details the coming of age of Lucy Honeychurch on a trip to Italy. Her experiences there change her in unanticipated ways, which at first frustrate and frighten her, but ultimately teach her a lot about life and the best ways to live it. Perhaps I'm just making this connection up, but there was a quote near the end that really brought that novel the surface to me, one about the Yes of life. Whether that second similarity was intended or entirely in my head, I marveled over the dialog Forman developed between classic works of literature and modern life.
Right now, I want to do nothing so much in the world as travel all around Europe, accompanied by a copy of the sequel/companion novel to Just One Day, which will apparently be from Willem's perspective, which seems an interesting correlation to If I Stay and Where She Went.
And I finally did it. It took me more than a year since I bought the book to actually read it. I didn’t want to. So much has changed in my life since I got this book and I hadn’t been able to read it. Didn’t feel like I could but part of moving on is facing small things, difficult things, that make every day a bit harder and that’s what I’m doing. I’m proud of me and that’s a wonderful feeling.
Now, boy, I did have such a hard time reading this book. I mean, I really enjoyed Forman’s storytelling, it’s beautiful, straight to the point, clear and full of meaning. But, there was this factor I couldn’t like and it took me 75% of the book to say “you know, you’re not that bad after all” and that was Allyson.
Not liking one of the MCs or the main MC and the one who’s telling the story, well, that’s a real deal breaker for me but I kept reading. I wasn’t going to give up and I’m glad I didn’t because, even though it took me a lot of time to like Allyson, I could relate to some things, feelings and situations and, in the end, I knew that reading this book was going to help me see things differently. And just like it happened to Allyson, I realized a great deal about myself.
First we have this girl named Allyson and her best friend Melanie and we’re told all about their trip to Europe. They’re starting college and this trip was a gift from Allyson’s parents. A lifetime experience. But, as the paragraphs go, we see how Allyson isn’t one to take risks. She lives her life as her parents dictate and she’s pretty much a pushover. Her friend Melanie is the wild one. The one who is adventurous and always tries to make Allyson to try new things. Their friendship was doomed from the beginning and it’s not because they’re different, no, it’s because what really kept them united was all the years they spent together.
Sometimes, when you know someone from a very long time, you just end up not knowing them at all. All these detail and precious information we gather when we’re getting to know someone, are somehow lost under the years. I think that’s what happened between the two of them. And going to different colleges just make that even clearer.
That doesn’t mean I liked Melanie, because I didn’t. I can’t like a person who’s always trying to do what they think is best for you whether you’re or not okay with it.
Friends are supposed to help you get through the bridge, not push you to the end and then say “you’re welcome”.
So, when Allyson meets Willem and she’s all enchanted and curious but cautious, yeah, I could see where that was coming from but I didn’t like so much how she went and decided to go to Paris with the guy she just met.
Sue me but I believe there are a lot of fucked up people in the world who can be whoever they want to be to get just what they want from people. But, let’s play along because I can somehow, maybe, yes forgive Allyson for that.
The whole day she spent with Willem was a really great day. They’re both quite different but they met halfway and they made it all work. She’s easy to jump to conclusions and he’s just so good at making people to stop and breathe. I had trouble with Allyson being so childish but her parents were so damn strict with her and all that control, well, I knew why she was the way she was. But as the day ends and shit happens, I didn’t know what to think.
Why did Willem leave?
Even if he didn’t feel the same way as Allyson, we got to know him as much as to consider him kind enough to not leave the girl alone in a strange city after they slept together.
So, who the fuck is Willem, then?
He’s this Dutch actor who believes that falling in love is not the same as being in love and that accidents, big or smalls, are what drive us to wherever we need to be.
He has a peculiar vision of the world and I can’t say I disagree with him. It all makes sense but still, he was, is, a great mystery. Why was he the way he was? Why was he so far from his home? Why didn’t he go back to Holland before? Is he running away?
Those same questions and more are the only thing Allyson can think. Oh, and the pain and misery she feels. The heartbreak. The feeling that she was more herself when she was with Willem for that one day than all these years.
I got she was mourning, not only for the way she’d been played but also for the Allyson she was when she was in Paris. The Allyson who was happy, carefree and real. But now she’s in college, being Pre-Med, no real friends and living a lie.
She’s utterly unhappy and it’s so painful to see I got annoyed rather quickly.
She was such a bitch. Not to people but to herself. She didn’t know how to handle things with her parents and she didn’t handle well what happened with Willem and now she’s alone in Boston and getting bad grades.
I know exactly how that feels like, so maybe that’s why I couldn’t stand the way she was coping with things and I had to remind myself that we all deal with our shit differently but she was just so stupid.
Why wasn’t she nicer to herself? She was really smart, she knew things were going to end at some point or she was going to end up living the life her parents wanted her to live. We know what we do, what we don’t and what we deserve and what we don’t so I think she just liked being like that so she didn’t have to make any decision.
I can’t be okay with that.
So, after a few breakdowns and family fights and arguments with Melanie, she started to see the fucking light and started to do shit by herself. Thank gods.
You know why I kept reading even though I didn’t like Allyson?
Because the book was really good. The changes, the people around Allyson, the situations, the feeling… All those things were exactly what she needed, what we needed to read because I think we can all relate to them. It’s a really general yet an important topic: finding yourself and be okay with it.
It’s never late to start over and do things just for you. It’s never late to wake up and be different, if you want. Or be a different version of yourself, a better version, a version that makes you happy. And because the book delivered that it’s why I liked it.
Allyson was getting better, making old/new friends, facing their parents, learning what she likes, what she doesn’t like and then, making decisions.
Going back to Paris was a good call and I got happy what she worked her ass off and managed to do it. I liked how she worked things with her mom without giving ground away and I loved when she went to places because she wanted to. That’s what I wanted for her since the very start. Searching for Willem and for answers, took Allyson to meet new people, things and parts of her she didn’t know and what a wonderful thing it was.
The end of the book were both predictable and shocking. Like, what happens before the end were unexpected but the main thing wasn’t. So I’m both happy and mad for the way the book ends.
This is the kind of book you think you know what is around the corner or you predict you know exactly how it ends and you would be dead wrong time and time again. The Travel aspect is absolutely perfect although I wish there was some kind of photo album or something to look at so you can picture the scene better. I stayed up the entire night and did not go to bed until 10 in the morning to finish this book and it was so worth it!
Just One Day
This book was insta-love and first world problems for a party of one. That “one” being Allyson, our main character. Now, on paper, I was SO sure I was going to connect with Allyson. I was always the “good girl” growing up, the planner, the one who had her life figured out by the age of seventeen(or so I thought), the dependable girl who was sure to knock any challenge that came my way out of the park, all the while wanting an adventure of my own. However, that was not the case at all.
Allyson flings from being the “dependable girl” to traveling off to Paris with Willem. So, cool. Good for you for taking a chance, Allyson! Some things happen in Paris that made me roll my eyes or shake my head, but on the whole, I understood the impulse for adventure and for maybe a fling. That, I was on board with. But soon Allyson’s all but declaring her love to Willem, even though she seriously suspects him of hooking up with EVERY girl that pays attention to him. Welcome, insta-love, at least from Allyson’s side. Willem goes along with Allyson for the most part, though he’s sufficiently cagey every time Allyson asked him any questions that could ever pin him down–his email address, phone number, last name, etc.
To be honest, I was sufficiently worried by the relationship between Allyson and Willem. It’s one thing to have a mutual fling, but I found it uncomfortable and unsettling how Allyson spent so much of the day they spent together in Paris wondering if Willem was going to take off and leave her to be with other girls. Then, towards the end of the book as Allyson thinks this:
I’m the one who told Willem I was in love with him. I’m the one who said that I’d take care of him. I’m the one who bailed.
What? Allyson, NOOO. You spent a day with him. A year later, you should not be beating yourself up over “leaving”, considering you woke up in the morning to find Willem and everything gone. That is NOT healthy. And I could deal with this is the relationship was presented in that light, but I didn’t feel like it was. While so many people around Allyson basically keep telling her Willem wasn’t worth continuing to think about, she can’t help it. And I get it, I really do, but somewhere along the way Allyson’s quest to re-invent herself became tangled up in her relationship with Willem, and it never really separates. During the middle of the book, I was on board with that, but I felt it never really changed. Yes, by the end Allyson may have confronted some truths from that day in Paris and learned a bit about herself and want she wanted to be, but she never really untangled that from her supposed “love” with Willem.
In short, I have to admit that Allyson and Willem’s relationship creeped me out, especially the way it was continually romanticized throughout the book. It wasn’t that Allyson’s relationship with Willem was all bad–if Just One Day had showed us the effect of that day on Allyson and her journey to find herself in her new college setting, I would have been totally on board. It was more the length of obsession that Allyson went to, considering Willem’s character in the first place, that gave me pause.
Speaking of Allyson’s character arc, I have to admit this was one of my favorite passages from the book:
Willem changed my life. He showed me how to get lost, and then I showed myself how to get found.
It’s a wonderful line, and it reminds me how much I love Gayle Forman’s writing, which was really the only reason I kept reading this book. However, let’s dig into this quote a little deeper, shall we? Willem certainly showed Allyson how to get lost. But I’m not convinced the second part is so true. See, while I tried hard to sympathize with Allyson as much as possible, I just could not help but to shake my head at some of her “problems”. Allyson faces a lot of family pressure to be the best in school, become the world’s brightest doctor, and save millions of lives. Now that itself was one of the problem Allyson faces that I found really interesting. However, the way Allyson deals with her problems–if at all–drove me crazy. I think one of problems I had with Just One Day is the same problem I had with Anna and the French Kiss: Privileged wealthy kids complaining over problems that could be so small if you know, they actually. . . TALKED.
As we see Allyson’s first year of college, it becomes clear that she’s unhappy following the family plan. She eventually starts doing things that make HER happy instead of make her family happy, and I was definitely cheering for her at this point. It drove me crazy how almost ALL of her problems came back to Willem, but at this point, I was getting used to that. Still, every once in a while Allyson would remind me just how annoying she could be at times. One of the main things that annoyed me was that at one point, Allyson decides she needs to save up money for something her parents won’t approve the funds for. So she has to get . . . a JOB. Problem is, Allyson’s never had to get a job before, and of course, she complains about it. Luckily, she does eventually find a job and doesn’t complain about that, and it was definitely a good growing experience for her. But just small thing after small thing seemed to be such big CHALLENGES for Allyson.
So, what did I like about Just One Day? As mentioned before, Gayle Forman’s writing is always beautiful. I did really enjoy the college setting, and actually getting to see one of Allyson’s classes. I liked the idea of Allyson’s journey, but it was so tied up in her relationship with Willem that it never quite seemed to work out in the right way. These small things are what kept me reading, but on the whole, I’m sad to say I didn’t enjoy the book.
Final Impression: So many people love this one, but I found it problematic on multiple levels. I thought the relationship between Willem and Allyson was unhealthy, so it was hard for me to root for Allyson since her continual fascination with finding Willem was so tied up in her personal journey. There were a few things I liked, but not enough to save this book into “I liked” territory. 2/5 cupcakes.
One of my favorites of this year!
I was hesitant to read this book since I read If I Stay by Gayle Forman and I didn't enjoy that one at all. Therefore I got this book from the library thinking that if it was just as bad I wouldn't have wasted my money. Although my book-intuition was telling me that I was going to love this book and regret not buying it, I still got it from the library. And boy was my book-intuition was right. I loved this book!
The characters in this book were real and I could relate to Allyson. She has a kind heart and always follows the rules except when she runs off to Paris with a boy she just met for just one day and further along in the story she starts to rebel even more. Her rebellion doesn't seem like a rebellion, it's more like she is sticking up for herself. When it comes to Willem I find that he is a big mystery which keeps you wondering what is going to happen. When she wakes up and he's gone it raises all kinds of questions throughout the book.
When Allyson wakes up and Willem is gone she goes through a period of heartbreak which is normal but it seems a little daunting when you're reading it. Until she finally decides to do something about it. I loved reading about her travels in the book and I loved reading about how with each step she found another piece of herself.
This book is beautifully written and has a beautiful story. This book will keep you hanging on until the very last sentence of the book and even then you'll be left with wanting more. I cannot wait for the next book (which is from Willem's point of view) to come out later this year. I can say that I will be buying that one and I will end up buying this one eventually as well since I can see myself re-reading this book.