Title: Just One Day
Author: Gayle Forman
Published January 8th 2013 by Dutton Juvenile
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.
I finished Just One Day hours ago. And I’ve been almost useless since I closed the book because wow. WOW.
I have just been busy marinating in my own feelings.
I related to Allyson a whole hell of a lot. At the beginning of the book, she’s the quintessential “good girl.” She does what she’s told, does what’s expected of her, and lets other people’s expectations be thrust upon her. But then she meets Willem, swoony dutchy boy extraordinaire, and she takes a big risk. For once, she does what no one expects.
And she has the best time doing it.
Lord, did this book make me want to go to Paris. Which is interesting because Willem and Allyson don’t necessarily do a lot of “sight-seeing.” But France comes alive through their spur of the moment adventure.
And over the course of “Just One Day,” not only does Allyson (or, as Willem knows her, “Lulu”) fall for Willem in a big way (and trust me, as a reader, you will too), she sort of finds herself. Or who she wants to be, anyway. Someone that has adventures, does things that are a little unexpected. Someone who lets herself free of the box that she’s shut herself inside.
This book is definitely swoontastic (and goodness gracious, I use this word a lot, but it just FITS). Willem is enthralling, makes Allyson feel sometimes like she’s the only one who matters– but sometimes, making her feel like she’s not special at all when she sees him interact with other girls. That’s part of the growing she does over the course of the novel, I think. She’s less threatened by other women he’s interacted with, makes herself face them and that he has a past. And Willem is definitely flawed. Like Allyson, we only know him for a day and we don’t know his whole history, but we definitely see both the good and the bad.
And can’t help falling for him anyway.
But yes, though the swoon made me grow wide of eye and short of breath, it was when Willem leaves Allyson that I connected the most. Because then Allyson has to find her way back to that person that she wants to be without someone to guide her.
And it takes some doing.
This was the point at which I started to cry because honestly knowing you have every reason to get over someone, knowing it was short-lived and that the l-word shouldn’t fit in the situation, and knowing that you’re expected to be over it– it’s hard when you’re just not, and feel like you’ve lost a bit of yourself along the way.
I think that beyond swoon and that discovery of self, Just One Day is about changing relationships. Allyson does a lot of working to get her parents to see who she wants to be and she drifts apart from her childhood best friend. It’s frustrating at time, but I never felt like Gayle Forman pigeon-holed Allyson’s mother other former BFF as ‘villains.’ In the case of her mother, they have some work to do, but in the case of the best friend, they simply grow into people that don’t mesh as perfectly as they used to. And that’s okay. It’s life.
In every way possible, Just One Day is a book that will stay with you. At least… I know it will stay with me.
To sum up: Read Just One Day if you want to feel and feel a lot. You will not be disappointed.