Monday, September 23, 2013

Review: Just One Day

Just One Day
Author: Gayle Forman
Published: January 8, 2013
Hardcover, 368 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

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.

This book started with Shakespeare. Anytime Shakespeare is involved, I know I'll enjoy the story. Allyson is on a European senior trip before going off to college and she's been doing everything she's told. But when she meets Willem, seduced by his performance in an impromptu performance of Twelfth Night, she only hesitates a bit when he asks her to go to Paris with him. The most insane thing she's ever done takes her on a journey that she never thought possible. The day in Paris with Willem is one she will never forget, especially since she wakes up the next morning to find him gone. 

I was heartbroken when Allyson woke up, knowing that Willem would be gone. Even though we are warned on the back cover, it's still hard to read as she wakes up to discover she is alone. It was easy to see why Allyson fell for him. Tall, charming, and ready to show her a world she's never seen. But when he's gone, I wanted to hate him, but I didn't know why he left and neither did she. Allyson goes to college in September anyway, trying to forget that faithful night. She lives life half alive, thoughts of Willem constantly in her head. When someone falls in love, that love get stained on them, as Willem says int he book, and there is no doubt that Allyson is stained. Her journey through her first year of college is bittersweet. The way she acts, like she's lost the love of her life, is not exagerated. This is how a young girl whose never been in love before would feel. She gave her everything to someone who disappeared from her life. 

I thought Allyson would immediately return to the scene of the crime, but she spends most of her year away from there in school. There was no filler. It was important to see her develop through these months, to see how hard this has affected her and to see if she could gather the strength to find answers. She finds herself in a Shakespeare class and makes friends with Dee, a man who hides his true self from everyone. They help each other in the ways they need it most and both grow together as friends. Allyson discovers a lot about herself throughout the year. and yes, Willem continues to haunt her, but she learns to survive. When lie brings her back to Paris, it's time for her to put everything she's learned to the test.

Forman writes beautifully. Her first novel, If I Stay, blew me away. Her words flow off the pages like poetry, sucking me into a world not unlike my own, and making me feel things I haven't felt in a long time. I remember the terror of falling in love, the high that comes with it, and she captures this wonderfully. It's in the simple words that she uses that make the story leap from the page. When Willem describes falling in love like being a stain, I wanted to shout this analogy to the word. It was so perfect, so true, that I may not be able to think of love the same way again. Life isn't easy, and love is harder, but that does not mean we don't try. That does not mean we give up. Allyson's story may seem far fetch to some, but we all go through this, it just may not take place in Europe. This is a beautiful story that made me laugh, swoon and cry. Willem's story will be told in Just One Year, and hopefully then we will get the answers to our long awaited questions.

“Or maybe it's not a miracle. Maybe this is just life. When you open yourself up to it. When you put yourself in the path of it. When you say yes.” 

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