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. – Goodreads
I went into Just One Day expecting to be swooning over the romance between the two characters, Allyson and Willem, but instead Gayle Forman had me gripped to Allyson’s journey of self-discovery. As much as I love a good romantic storyline, this focus made for a very gratifying read in a different way.
Allyson was an easy character to relate to — especially when I found her completely frustrating. While I could be sympathetic to her situation, there were points when I was internally screaming, “GET IT TOGETHER, GIRL.” And yet… I knew exactly what she was going through because Gayle Forman made the pressures and the disappointments that she faced very real. Allyson didn’t immediately bounce back from what she was dealing with, but she certainly grew and gradually allowed herself to be open to change. It was in those moments that I found myself really loving her because, no, things weren’t going to be smooth sailing just because, but she was willing to try. Gayle Forman has such a good grasp on the ups and downs of growing up and had Allyson navigating through in a realistic way.
I expect Gayle Forman will peel back the layers of Willem’s character in Just One Year, but I must say that I wasn’t too into him in this one. He’s mysterious for sure, but he’s simply too unpredictable for my tastes. I don’t know that I can really get behind the urgency between him and Allyson either, but I’ll wait and see what Gayle Forman has up her sleeve before I completely make up my mind.
While I may not have had an adventure abroad like Allyson (anyone want to sponsor me?), Just One Day is a book I found much to identify with. Oh, and that ending? NEXT BOOK NOW, PLEASE.
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