May 26, 2013

Review: Just One Day

By: Gayle Forman
Published: January 2013 by Dutton
Format: Hardback, 368 pages
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
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C'est courageux d'aller dans l'inconnu.

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.

Rating: 4.5/5

It's no secret I'm a huge fan of Gayle Forman. If I Stay was good, Where She Went had me bawling my eyes out until they were raw. This book, though, I think might be my favorite. I didn't bawl, but the emotion I felt was Real and hit home like mad.


I. Am. Allyson.

Like, what? Okay, maybe I didn't have one spontaneous day in Paris with a person who would change my life, but how Allyson is as a person, how she wants to be, the confusion she has over who she is and who she wants to be and every feeling in between. How she is so "reliably her" to her friends and family, but longs to break free and live. Oh, how I long to live and break free of my own shell. Oh, how I want to spontaneously up and leave for Europe and travel around without a destination goal. Of course Allyson went with a goal, but once she began to find herself, find the strength within her, she opened herself up to spontaneity and to life.

This book was not about romance like I expected. It was about growth and change and the effect one person can have on you. At a couple points, I wondered about the realism (with Allyson deciding to go to Paris alone with a stranger, for example), but the further I got into the book, the more I understood what Forman was trying to do. What she succeeded at doing. And that's showing how much one person and one day can change who you are. Scratch that, how much one person and one day can make you find something inside you that you never knew was there or that you never knew how to find or release.

In all honesty, this book was just beautiful. The beginning was such an adventure. While Allyson became Lulu, I got to watch her find the meaning of life. She began to trust that she could open herself up and release the knots tying her to the ground and to rules and routine and normal. And then at the midway point, when she lost both Allyson and Lulu and the trust she formed with life, Forman created such a realistic depression. It wasn't a so "woe is me," "oh, I hate life," etc., etc. It was so perfect that I can understand how some may find this section boring or Allyson unlikeable, but if you've ever been in her shoes, you'll understand how very real it is. And it wasn't just "because of some boy."

I'm not entirely sure what else to say, as I'm still emotional over this. The ending left my chest heavy and I'm craving the companion, Just One Year, so very much. To find out what happened to Willem in that one year, to find out what's going to happen in this one day. I can't even begin to explain my eagerness. But I can explain this: Gayle Forman is God. I realized this at the RT Convention, but I'm realizing it even more now. The way she writes, the way she plots, the way she creates these realistic characters and these situations that whisk you away, is just simply breathtaking. In October, I'm traveling to England and France (Paris, to be exact) with my friend, and this book has not only inspired me to take risks and live while I'm over there, but to embrace and accept the accidents.

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