Review Detail

4.1 4
Young Adult Fiction 3544
Gayle Forman Excels in Feels
Overall rating
 
5.0
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
5.0
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.
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