Thursday, January 24, 2013

Just One Day - Gayle Forman

Just One Day Gayle Forman book cover
Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #1
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
Source/Format: Bought || Hardcover

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. (from Goodreads)

I've honestly been staring at this screen for a long time, wondering what more I can say or write about Just One Day that has not already been said (and beautifully) by someone else. It's one of the few books that I picked up on release day and read during its release week, so that obviously says a lot about its appeal. And it tells a story that it appears most of us can relate to, based on the reactions from most of the book bloggers I know. This book has wormed its way into my heart, leaving a lasting impression - and I know that it's going to be a book that I revisit and savor time and time again.

The reason that this story resonated with me so much comes simply in the form of its main character - Allyson. It's not a secret that I often identify with characters in the books I read, but Allyson definitely takes the cake! Allyson is definitely me. It's almost as if Gayle Forman decided to ride along in my thoughts and write down whatever she experienced. 

The different facets of who Allyson was and who she became - I could definitely see myself reflected in them. I shared the same rigid, controlled, careful nature when I was younger, trying to do what was right and what was expected of me. And, like Allyson, there was this one moment in my life - moving to the US in 2010 (which, like Allyson's Europe trip, was my parents' idea) - that opened me up to a whole new set of experiences. These experiences, in turn, led to a spark that inspired a transformation in who I was.

It took some time for me to readjust my perception of who I was and what I wanted to do, but it eventually got a point where I settled comfortably into the me I am right now. Watching Allyson go through the same journey in this book was a comfort, a treat and a total out-of-body experience since half the time I felt like going, "I've been there. I've felt that way. I know how that goes."

Other great things about the book? 

Well, the setting is definitely one of them. Paris has been calling to me to come and visit for quite some time now, and I really, really hope I get to do it sometime soon. The way Paris is brought to life in this book is beautiful. There's not a big focus on the touristy Paris, but rather on Paris as it actually is in day-to-day life. Considering the limited time frame that this setting is given in the book, I commend the author for doing an impeccable job in making me feel like I was immersed in the busy streets and little side paths right along with Allyson and Willem.

I also loved that the author set part of the book during Allyson's first year of college. There's certainly a lack of books (at least in my reading pile!) that feature college, and I loved that this one did. It brought me right back to my first year in college - the new friendships, adjusting to living away from home, learning what classes would suit me and what wouldn't. The authenticity just made me the slightest bit nostalgic for my college days (though I definitely do not miss the studying!).

Allyson's friends, both old and new, were also essential people in the journey she takes. From the best friend that she has to learn to grow with (especially when they go to separate schools) to the new friends she gains along the way, each and every single one plays a part. My particular favorite is Dee, mostly because he's a very unique character, provides a quirkiness and humor to certain situations and because he proves himself to be a true friend to Allyson throughout it all.

I suppose Willem is a very important part of this book, as it is her encounter with him that changes everything for Allyson. However, and this is not necessarily a bad thing, I honestly do not know how I feel about him. This is mostly because I don't know his side of the story. He seemed enchanting and charming and lively and adventurous to me when he first appears, but little by little, the facts that creep in started adding to my suspicions and doubts about who he is and what he's like. Even though we learn a few surprising things about him towards the latter part of the book, I find that I'm still conflicted about how to feel about him. Hopefully, of course, that changes when we read about what happened to him in the next novel!

I have come to two very important conclusions after reading this book:

(1) Everyone (and I mean just about everyone) has an experience that changes them for the rest of their lives.
(2) Gayle Forman is a brilliant writer, and I'm an idiot for not having read anything by her before.

Just One Day is a book with words that went straight from the pages and into my heart. The journey that Allyson goes through, the beautifully written settings, the wonderful and quirky characters and even the presence of a handsome European boy all combine together to form a wonderful, beautiful, incredibly moving tale. Without a doubt, this is going to be one of my favorite reads of this year - and one that I highly recommend to every reader.

24 comments:

  1. You haven't read a Gayle Forman book yet? What What? :) Must get on that girl.

    Looking forward to picking this one up SO very soon. Ya know, not pull an Estelle and wait until December to read it. haha

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  2. Girl, you need to read IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT. I liked IF I STAY but loved WHERE SHE WENT.

    And I agree, the setting definitely made the book more special. MACARONS!!!

    I can also relate to your/Allyson's journey of self discovery. I think everyone goes through the same thing around the same time frame (college) and it's a nice thing to relate to. Heck, I still go through journeys of self discovery! :-P

    LOVE YOU!

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  3. Ok, this is probably my favorite review of this book I've read so far. I am *still* waiting on my library, so I haven't read it yet, but everything about it sounds so perfect and wonderful. I'm really glad you could relate to Allyson so much. I think those are the best kinds of stories. And Paris! I've been there before and I'm dying to go again. I'm happy it didn't focus on the touristy stuff because I'm not really into that aspect of travel. I could keep gushing about your review for forever, but I'll stop now. Great job! :)

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  4. Seriously, best review of a book I've read in a long time. I love how personal you made it, touching on how the book affected your life. If I wasn't already wanting to read Just One Day, I totally would be now! Great job!

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  5. Beautiful review, Alexa! I'm so thrilled to see you enjoyed this. I am buying a copy very soon, as I loved Gayle Forman's previous books and can't wait to try this. :) Glad you liked it.

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  6. I know exactly what you mean! When I read it, I felt like Allyson was me too. But I think that's what makes the book and her character so great. We can all see a little bit of ourselves in her and the journey she takes. Great review! And now, you gotta read Gayle Forman's other books :)

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  7. JUST ONE DAY <33333 Oh my gosh, you haven't read her other books yet!? Go stop what you're doing and read If I Stay/Where She Went!!! :)

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  8. I got goosebumps reading this, Alexa! I can absolutely understand that feeling you get when a character is so you, I get that a lot too!

    This sounds like such a good book and I cannot wait to read it. I hope you love her previous books, they are AMAZING!!

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  9. What a lovely review, Alexa! I've been holding off on reading reviews for Just One Day until I saw that you had posted yours and I had to read it. I love Gayle's writing and I cannot wait to start Just One Day. That said, I am very glad to know that you enjoyed it as much as you did. I plan on picking this one up at the library before class tomorrow.

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  10. This novel basically sounds like the next contemporary read that I will probably LOVE.

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  11. There has been SO much hype surrounding this book and though I wasn't a fan of Forman's If I Stay, I'm looking forward to giving her another go with Just One Day! In fact, I purchased myself a copy yesterday and will be starting it (hopefully very) soon. Also, I love that you resonated with Allyson so much. It's such a great feeling to connect with a main character but to really, truly connect with what there going through and seeing yourself reflected in them is a whole new level and something I love stumbling but only happens on the rare. Lovely review, Alexa!

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  12. Wow, it's great you were able to relate to the protagonist on such a personal level! That definitely makes the experience of reading a book that much more enjoyable. I also have a lack of books set in college, so that's something that I need to rectify. I wasn't a huge fan of Forman's If I Stay, but I have a feeling that Just One Day would be much more the kind of novel that I'd enjoy.

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  13. My goodness, Alexa. This is one of the very best reviews of this book that I've read! I also loved Magan's, and bought the book soon after (just haven't started it yet), but this is absolutely something that would have convinced me to buy it immediately if I hadn't already. I've read If I Stay and Where She Went and liked the second book a lot more - and this makes it sound like Forman has come even more into her own writing. Excited to start it!

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  14. This was such a beautifully written review, Alexa! I will definitely be picking this book up.

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  15. Wait, you haven't read If I Stay and Where She Went yet? You should get copies ASAP! Glad you enjoyed reading this one, I just finished it a few minutes ago and I'm still trying to process how I feel about the book. I really wish I had a copy of Just One Year right now.

    While my parents were never as strict as Allyson's parents but I could still relate to her. Would love to go to Paris someday. I hope both of us can to go soon. :)

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  16. This one really looks good. I'm definitely curious to read more about it. Thanks for sharing and for bringing it to my attention.

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  17. You should read her other books! I think you would enjoy them if you loved this one so much. I totally agree about relating to Allyson. Lovely review x

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  18. AHH! My review is going up tomorrow. I DIED from how much I loved this book. I, too, saw so much of myself in Allyson, and loved how much she grew. It was awesome. I was kind of totally enraptured by Willem. He had that mysterious vibe going that I found really intriguing. I can see how you were unsure of him, but I was totally taken by him, and can't wait to learn more about him in Just One Year! YAY!!! You should definitely read more of Gayle's books! You'd love If I Stay/Where She Went, Alexa. Seriously.

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  19. You make this book sound so gorgeous! I actually got the audiobook off Audible and can't wait until I finished the audiobook(s) I'm currently listening to. (I suck at audiobooks.) Great review, Alexa!

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  20. ONE MORE TIME? You haven't read If I Stay & Where She Went? ALEXA! My goodness! I...I'm hurt! I'm so glad though that you connected with this book, and loved it. I, like you, hope to understand more about Willem in the companion novel!

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  21. I'm so glad you loved this one! You should definitely try out her If I Stay series -- it's pretty amazing. :) I bought this one a few weeks ago and really need to read it soon. I know it's going to be awesome!

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  22. I think that Gayle Forman captures those transformative experiences so well. I know that's why her writing speaks so deeply to both adults and teens.

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  23. Thank you so much for your review! Unfortunately I didn't like Gayle's IF I STAY, which a read quite a while ago, but you make me want to read Just One Day so badly right now!

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  24. I'm really impressed with how coherent your review is haha! I couldn't think clearly AT ALL. But I loved it oh so much and though I also don't know what to think of Willem, I have faith in him. You should definitely check out Gayle Forman's other books, I think you'll love them! (I really enjoyed If I Stay, but Where She Went broke my heart. So utterly gorgeous!)

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