So it’s been a few weeks since I last posted a book review, but I just had to share with you my thoughts of Just One Day, a YA romance by Gayle Forman.
Gayle Forman is an expert at creating heartbreaking novels that stay with you for a long time, and Just One Day is no exception. It is a beautiful book about falling in love, chance and self-discovery, and you’ll immediately get lost in the story.
Just One Day is split into two parts and is told from the perspective of a girl called Allyson. At the beginning of the book, we meet Allyson as she comes to the end of her trip in Europe. She immediately connects with a Dutch guy called Willem whilst in Stratford-upon-Avon, and as the holiday didn’t quite turn out to be the ‘Trip of a Lifetime’ she was hoping for, she makes a spur of the moment decision to go to Paris with Willem for just one day. However, things start to fall apart when it seems that maybe they both wanted different things.
Fast forward several weeks and Allyson is at college. She still hasn’t fully recovered from her day in Paris and she can’t get Willem out of her head. Allyson has a hard time adjusting to college, and although she spends so much time studying, her grades are low. After confiding in her family and new friends, Allyson realises that she won’t be able to move on unless she sees Willem one last time and finds out why he just vanished with no explanation. Against her parents’ wishes, Allyson ventures back to Europe, meeting new people and learning about herself along the way.
Just One Day is a truly amazing book. It evoked so many feelings and made me even more keen to travel the world. As well as Paris and London, the book also takes us to New York, Mexico and Holland. Each location is described so vividly and I felt like I was really there.
Allyson is a likeable, but flawed, character. While she is very intelligent and hardworking, she also doesn’t like to take risks and becomes easily obsessed with Willem, who wasn’t even that special. I was somewhat brave of her to travel to a foreign city with someone she just met, but at the same time she didn’t really have any money or a phone to contact people if something went wrong. Allyson also didn’t seem very grateful that her parents got her a holiday as a graduation gift and moaned about it constantly. Oh, and she also complained about the watch they gave her. Nevertheless, Allyson does become more independent in the second part of the book and was less reliant on her parents.
Besides Allyson and Willem, there is a multitude of secondary characters that appear throughout Just One Day. The ones that stood out the most were Celine, who also had a fling with Willem; Kali, Allyson’s flatmate at college; Dee, a guy from one of Allyson’s classes; Mrs Foley, the Teen Tours! leader; and Melanie, Allyson’s best friend. These characters are all integral to the plot and help Allyson in some way or another. I like how Allyson and Dee met through Shakespeare; it was his plays that also brought Allyson and Willem together in the first part of the book. Dee is such a great character and I loved his sassiness. Melanie, on the other hand, is a tad infuriating and ditched Allyson to go on nights out, which was a bit selfish IMO. Maybe she should’ve told Allyson’s parents where she was, but at least she was a loyal friend and let Allyson have her one day of adventure.
Just One Day is all you want from a Young Adult book and more. The subject matter isn’t too heavy; the protagonist undergoes personal development; and the story ends on a cliffhanger that leaves you wanting more. I can’t wait to read the sequel and hear Willem’s side of the story!
“It’s not like I didn’t know this about him. Not like he hid it. But hearing it out loud, from her, I feel exhausted, jet lag dropping me like a plummeting elevator.”
“My body feels like it’s no longer solid matter. It is particle dust. It is pure electricity. It dances me across the theater, toward the side of the stage. There is a crowd of well-wishers awaiting the actors. People holding bouquets of flowers, bottles of champagne. The actress who played Celia comes out to whoops and hugs. Next comes Adam, then Rosalind, who gets a heap of bouquets. My heart starts to thunder. Could I have come this close only to miss him?”
Phew, that was a long review! I promise they aren’t all like that! I just had so much to say about Just One Day! If Just One Day sounds like your cup of tea, I’d recommend trying Anna and the French Kiss or anything by Sarah Dessen.