Thursday, April 11, 2013

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)
* * * * *
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!


Gayle Forman hits another one out of the park.  Is this author capable of writing anything that is not thought provoking, emotionally charged, and beautiful?  I am pretty sure the answer to that question is no.  As I am sure many did, I devoured this book in just one day.

On a beautiful and warm summer day in Stratford-upon-Avon, Allyson and her friend Melanie await a production of Hamlet.  While they are waiting they are approached by a few people handing out pamphlets for a free Shakespeare performance.  Decisions, Decisions…a free street performance of Shakespeare or the Hamlet performance that is part of their parent-paid tour?  As the young man handing out the pamphlet says to them, “I think a night like this, you don’t waste on tragedy? Or indoors.”  Oh and did I mention the smile he flashed Allyson?  Yeah, even I couldn’t say no to that invitation.

Allyson and Melanie don’t regret their decision.  It’s an amazing performance and that cute guy flipped Allyson a coin at the end of the show.  It may not mean much but it was highly flattering.  Then the next day, on their way to London, Allyson runs into that guy from the outdoor performance on the train.  Before long, Allyson is agreeing to Willem showing her Paris for a day.  After a fun and action filled day, evening and night, Allyson wakes up and Willem is gone.

Allyson returns home confused, embarrassed and lost.  She begins her first year of college and quickly succumbs to a depression not abnormal for a first year college student but certainly abnormal to her.  Through the help of a caring guidance counselor, an off-beat Shakespeare course and some new friends, Allyson goes through the journey of discovering who she is.  And maybe, just maybe discovering who Willem is as well.

If you have ever read If I Stay and/or Where She Went, you know how Gayle Forman can force you to feel more emotion than you would think your poor little heart can manage.  Just One Day is no exception.  During their day in Paris, you can feel Allyson’s confusion.  And even with the first person narrative, you can sense Willem’s confusion as well.  You can feel their hope, fear and mistrust of the growing connection between them.  And when Allyson wakes up alone the next morning?  Her embarrassment and sadness are overwhelming.  The following year is no exception.  I think I particularly connected with Allyson because I am an only child.  I understood the identity-smothering relationship with her parents and her sometimes lonely journey of self-discovery. So much so that I sobbed like a little girl at one point.  Don’t worry.  This isn’t a tear-your heart-out tear-jerker like If I Stay.  It just resonated with me so much that I became an emotional mess.

There are books you just know you are going to love.  I always know that I am going love the next John Green or David Levithan or Gayle Forman novel.  But sometimes knowing that you are going to love something doesn’t prepare you for how much it is going to blow you away.  Just One Day blew me away.  You have left a stain on this reader, Gayle Forman.  A stain that I have no desire to remove.


  1. Great review. I've never read a Gayle Forman book but this one sounds really good. I love books that invoke all kinds of emotions, because, well, that's what reading is all about.

  2. Yes!!! A stain has been left! This book was amazing!

  3. Ashley - If you like contemporary YA at all, then you definitely like this one.

    Cathy - Agreed! Now I am waiting very impatiently for Just One Year.

    Thanks for stopping by!