Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Release Date:
January 8, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Source: Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Summary

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..(courtesy of Goodreads)

Review

What does it take for a book to really make you feel something? Many authors pull out sensational stops to suck in the emotions of readers. A parent dies. A boyfriend dies. A dog dies (sob). It's relatively easy to elicit tears. But a book that pulls at every aspect of my emotional psyche and keeps its talons in for days? Much more rare.


Just One Day is an emotional roller coaster not because it deals with any horrible tragedy like death or illness. Rather it's because it deal with commonplace issues that so many of us have experienced or can easily envision: heartbreak, betrayal, loneliness, depression.

Allyson goes on a lark with a strange guy for 24 hours in Paris. When he disappears, Allyson's world falls apart. This sounds hokey. It sounds like insta-love. It's not. It may be a little insta-love, but Allyson's travails over the next year aren't really about Willem at all. It's about Allyson going from a little girl whose life has been shaped by her mother's ambition and her own fears towards a young woman who takes chances and looks for her own happiness over others' expectations.

Although she spells her name "wrong," Allyson at the start of the book is a lot like I was at that age...and some ways, still am. Structured, mature, reserved, cautious. What Allyson has not yet realized is that the her structured life that she pulls around her like a blanket is slowly suffocating her. She wants more out of life. The reader realizes this after Allyson spends this one day with an amazing guy, but Allyson doesn't realize it until 6 months later - a full semester into her freshman year of college.

Allyson's year at college was the most emotionally wrenching part of the book. Not because anything bad happens, but because Allyson is lost. It feels so real. The first year of college can be the most exhilarating time of your life or the most frightening. Allyson no longer wants to be limited by her life jacket, but she doesn't know how to keep herself afloat without it. So she isolates herself. No friends, no fun, no schoolwork. Mostly sleeping.

The book starts to turn from depressing to inspiring as Allyson learns to think for herself. Now it's not "what should I do" but "what do I want to do." Her life becomes more colorful and more joyful as Allyson creates a life for herself.

Just One Day is not really a romance. It's a novel about self-discovery. As such, my review has focused entirely on Allyson even though there are lots of great characters. Most significantly Willem, our 24 hour Dutch guy who you will love and then wonder about. There's also Dee, a hilarious guy who becomes Allyson's support system at college.

Allyson's mother is a key character. It's easy to cast her as a villain and I think the book goes too far in this direction. It's my main criticism of the novel. Her mother is fleshed out a little by the end of the book but too often appears to be a cardboard shrew. Imagining myself in her shoes, I think her reactions to Allyson's sudden irresponsibility and moodiness are not textbook perfect, but are still quite understandable.

Just One Day is a book that will make you realize the importance of shaping your own destiny. How one even can be the catalyst for so much more. It is such a vivid, emotional story that you will forget it's fiction and will cheer, cry, mourn, and rejoice at every turn in Allyson's journey towards life.

Rating: 5 / 5

20 comments:

  1. Wow, this sounds like a book that will hit close to home for me. Whether that will be good or bad I'm not sure. But I loved If I Stay and Where She Went so I'm sure I'll like this one - either way I'm dying to read it. Thanks for your great review.

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  2. I love Gayle Forman (who also spells her name "wrong" heh) and definitely need to pick this one up! Her writing is absolutely amazing and she can do it without killing off characters. Sounds like she doesn't disappoint in any way with this book. Yay!

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  3. I'm more curious about this book now that I've read multiple reviews saying that it's not as much about the romance and more about the character development. Because Gayle Forman is GREAT at character development! I really can't wait to read this one :D

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  4. I SERIOUSLY need to read this book! I love the author's previous work so it pretty much sounds like a win-win for me and this book. Lovely review!

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  5. yeah you loved this book as much as me. I enjoyed the journey too and totally remembering her talking about this book too when we met her. :)

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  6. Allyson sounds like me too in a lot of the ways that you describe her. Forman's overall plot premise may sound boring or ordinary but what she does with character development totally shapes the book and like you said makes you *feel*. I'm dying to read this one.
    Fantastic review, Alison!

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  7. I still haven't read anything by Gayle Forman Alison. I feel like such a failure as a blogger! She's one of those must read authors and for some reason I just haven't gotten to her yet. Maybe because her books are so emotional, so I have to be in the right mood for them. This sounds like a brilliant read though, so maybe I'll start here and then read her backlist:) Gorgeous review!

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  8. I love Gayle Forman. Ever since If I Stay and Where She Went (Gahd, Adam!) I have been eagerly awaiting for her next book. There's been mixed reviews for this in the blogosphere but based on your review alone, I am positive I will adore it as well. Especially because I am starting college in a few months so I can relate well enough. Hopefully. :D

    Beautiful review, Alison!

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  9. YAY! So happy you like it. I really enjoyed the ending. The last page just had me at hello! Awesome review!

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  10. This sounds like a great and emotional read that I should definitely pick up! Love your review!

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  11. I didn't like Gayle Forman's previous work, but I'm so looking forward to this book. I love the one-thing-can-change-your-life concept, it's so exciting. Fab review :)

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  12. I have enjoyed Formans writing. And I am curious about this one. Allyson sounds like she groes a lot. Great review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

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  13. This is on my TBR list, so I have to pick up a copy! Thanks for your great review.

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  14. I've never read any of Gayle Forman's books, but from the sound of it, this one sounds right on par with her previous works - she must be one seriously talented author! I really, really appreciate what you had to say for this one - about how it's about the commonplace issues and how it's more about self-discovery than a romance. I've never been a huge contemporary fan, but I find myself becoming more and more of one and I can definitely see myself really appreciating this one. Really great job on the review, by the way! I love how you always mention Allysons/Allisons spelling their names wrong, heh.

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  15. I was so bored with mopey Allyson in college-it really dragged the book down for me. But I loved Dee-such a cool character!

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  16. Wonderful review! So well said! I think I pretty much am with you about everything you said. I wouldn't say it was insta-love either, even though it kind of was. I flew through this book cause I was dying to know what happens. I loved this book SO much!

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  17. I have to admit when I first read the description of the book it didn't sound like something that would really hook me. But after reading your eloquent review I think I'm going to have to read this book. I don't doubt for a second that Gayle Forman can write another emotionally intense book so I'm sure I'm in for a treat!

    Bonnie @ wordsathome.ca

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  18. This is definitely a book I'm going to have to pick up! What a great review. Thanks :)

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  19. I feel so awful. I think I'm going to be the only blogger on the planet that did not fall in love with this book. I'm trying to write my review now but I feel like I'll be pelted with tomatoes lol

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