Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Release Date: January 8th, 2013
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.
It’s seems as if Gayle Forman’s books and I just don’t click. It’s not that I don’t like her books, it’s simply that I don’t love them as everyone else seems to. Perhaps it’s hype, perhaps it’s something else. But there’s nothing absolutely stunning about Just One Day. It was an enjoyable read, but I still had my issues with it.
The thing I enjoyed most about Just One Day was the significant character growth. Allyson starts off as a bit of a goody two shoes. Always following the rules, super intense about education, etc. etc. But by the end, she transforms into something else. This slow-burning change was so nice to watch. Allyson makes mistakes, but instead of so many characters in novels these days, she learns from them. It’s something truly magnificent.
Also, I liked the themes present throughout this book. This really is a book about growing up and finding who you really are, among other things. I really enjoyed the concept about really letting go and jumping in for a new adventure. While I find so many books deal with the whole ‘starting a new adventure thing’, they often skip over the hard part that leads to you taking that step. Allyson’s entire journey was realistic because Forman chose to include it all- even the hard stuff.
However, one of main main issues with this book was Allyson herself. I expected to immediately fall in love with her, since it seemed like there were so many things we had in common (yes, I admit, I’m a pretty good kid, ok??). But, I found her narrative to be a bit too whiny for my taste, among some other issues. She was just so mopey for such a long portion of the book, which dramatically slowed that section down, and thus, it took me up until the end to actually start liking her.
Also, I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around this concept. I understand that this book was supposed to be a whimsical idea of a one day swing in Paris, but I still wished for some more realistic-ness to be added in. This is a contemporary, after all. It was just so far-fetched. I get it. It’s the appeal, something so random happening like this. But I still wished that it would be more realistic. I feel like it would have added more depth into the story.
Overall, this one had its highlights, like the wonderful character development and deep themes. But, among my issues were Allyson herself, and the not very realistic concept, and that’s not even to mention the lagging middle or my nitpicky issues with the writing that really jarred me out of the story. I’d recommend this one for contemporary fans, but I’d advise for you to try to skip the hype and come in with fresh expectations.