Saturday, February 16, 2013

Book Review | Just One Day | Gayle Forman

Book Review | Just One Day | Gayle Forman
Hardcover368 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Dutton Juvenile

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.
Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon! (Goodreads summary)

“We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.” 

Allyson "Lulu" Healey

“And this is the truth. Because I may be only eighteen, but it already seems pretty obvious that the world is divided into two groups: the doers and the watchers. The people things happen to and the rest of us, who just sort of plod on with things. The Lulus and the Allysons.

It never occurred to me that by pretending to be Lulu, I might slip into that other column, even for just a day.”
― Gayle FormanJust One Day


“Travelling's not something you're good at. It's something you do. Like breathing. You can't work too much at it, or it feels like work. You have to surrender yourself to the chaos. To the accidents.”
― Gayle FormanJust One Day


Based on the title of my blog it will come as no surprise that a story set in Paris, with sweet romance, adventure and a personal journey had me hooked from page one to page end. Just One Day by Gayle Forman is so many great things rolled into one fantastic book. Paris, romance, spontaneity, personal journeys, travel, appealing boy/man, Shakespeare quotes, macarons...

I love it all, but what I like most about this book is how easy it is to relate to Allyson. We go on a tumultuous ride with her so that connection and that ability to plop oneself in her shoes really impacts the build of the story.

She is an ordinary girl. A girl who thinks she is bad at making friends. Thinks she isn't the type of girl for adventures. Believes she is bad at travel. A girl bound by preconceived notions that this "exciting life" is off limits to her. When she meets Willem and he gives her an alias, she takes to the identity and runs with it. For one day, Allyson becomes Lulu and is given a chance to not be the person her friend says she is, the girl her parents make her out to be, and the insecure girl she lets herself stay.

She gets to be someone else, which really just means, she gets a chance to be a side of herself that has been yearning to break out. 

I've been there, as I'm sure many of us have. I've even stood amidst old ruins and museums thinking that certainly this isn't all there is to a great eurotrip!? Or small scale, the girl entering the cafeteria worried that there wouldn't be anyone with whom to sit.

I foresaw the great adventure that was waiting should I just hop on the back of some Italian man's moped and skid away into the dusk...

When I was a junior in college, I had the chance to study abroad. The semester was accompanied by a two-week long eurotrip. And sure, there was no Willem despite how many coins I threw into the Trevi Fountain. But all adventures come with a host, a catalyst. Looking back, it isn't the long lines we stood in to see the Vatican or the rainy day we wasted going to Versailles. What I remember most are the times when we relinquished either willingly or unwillingly the control. When the German Train Clerk refused to let us on our night train to Poland. A refusal we ignored by sneaking on into a different car and hiding in an elderly Jewish man from Florida's train car. Or the time we got trapped on a night train for eight additional hours with Clarence from San Francisco and a guy we nicknamed Bill on our way to Venice. Only to later bump into Clarence in the Florence train station. Accidents. Unplanned adventures. 

Allyson's story shows us that it is even a bit more than that. More than slip ups. It is more than the willingness to let go of the reigns, because sometimes that is inevitable. It is learning why we are holding on to them so tight? 

Allyson's journey begins with one day. She meets Willem, she becomes Lulu, she goes on an adventure despite advisement, she takes the risk. It is such an excellent journey to follow along. Gayle Forman makes it more than just her journey but the readers as well. Was the risk worth it in the end? Read Just One Day and find out for yourself. 

My only complaint about this book...the editing errors! I'm no fantastic grammartition. I'm sure this post has a few. When you are reading a story so real and moving, a grammar error does not belong. It yanks my head right out of the page and jams me back in my living room. I lose momentary focus and have to regroup. I will forgive a handful but nearly twenty? Tsk. Tsk. 

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