Monday, December 24, 2012

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Title: Just One Day
Author: Gayle Forman
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Pages: 368 pages (hardcover)
How I Got the Book: won an ARC in a giveaway
Purchase/Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Promotional Materials and More: author website

Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)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!


This is my third attempt at this review. Third. Usually, a review needs only one draft and some quick revision for me, so this is definitely not your average novel. Allyson and Willem's adventures in Paris were a blast and her first year in college do so much for her, but once she gets back to Paris to try and find Willem again, she starts to lose me. I see why Forman is respected as a masterful YA writer, but she may not be for me.

Allyson's character arc is masterfully written, and the pivotal moment she experiences in her Shakespeare Out Loud class was good enough to nearly bring me to tears. Readers may not be so entranced if they're familiar with the tight-laced-girl-loosens-up story, but Forman is Forman and she makes it work. Ninety percent of the time, it's easy to understand Allyson's reaction to losing Willem, but other times, the question of if he's worth all the pain she goes through comes up.

Speaking of Willem... Given only one day to get to know him, his characterization is a little one-sided. As Allyson uncovers more about him after their day in Paris, his playboy side becomes clear and it becomes all too easy to want to kick him. This problem will undoubtedly be fixed in Just One Year, but what I've seen of him and his character in this novel makes me not want to read on.

Just One Day is also heavily character driven. Allyson handles the weight up until she makes her triumphant return to Paris with knowledge of the French language, money to spend, and fewer rifts in the family that pressured her for so many years.  It's during the last portion of the novel and Allyson's solo tour of Paris that she loses the strength to carry everything to its proper conclusion. This is most likely just me, though.

However, characters who emphasize every other word they say, especially when that quirk is all that defines them, are irritating and often unnecessary. Just One Day has a character just like this in Kali, one of Allyson's roommates. Characters like this inspire the urge to strangle someone when they're around for too long. Punching every other word they speak (as the novel describes it) is too much no matter who you are.

(See what I mean?)

Fans of abrupt endings and readers anxiously awaiting Willem's point of view in Just One Year will love the ending, but I'm not either of those. Honestly, it's the ending that really tripped me up. Until I go to it, I knew exactly what I wanted to say. This is one of those novels that is going to render the readers speechless one way or another. That's almost certain!

3.5 stars!

What am I reading next?: Nobody But Us by Kristin Halbrook