March 17, 2013

Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Title: Just One Day (Just One Day #1)
Author: Gayle Forman
Release Date: January 8th, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Page Count: 368
Source: Purchased
Rating: ★★★★ 

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!

[Summary Source: Goodreads]


Allyson's a recent high school graduate who goes on a summer teen tour to Europe as a graduation present. While there, she meets this HIGHLY ATTRACTIVE MAN who sweeps her off her feet and takes her to Paris for Just One Day (see what I did there?). But then, things get tricky. Allyson ends up going home, broken hearted to start a life she no longer seems to want as much anymore. This is where the real meat and potatoes of the book lies. This is where Allyson begins to truly get to know herself.

Let's break this down:

Fact: GAYLE FORMAN KNOWS WHAT'S UP. Thinking back on my freshman year of college I honestly don't think I can explain how closely I identify with a lot of this book. It was actually a little painful. I mean, everyone always says college is THE BEST. One of my friends once told me that, on the scale of AWESOME, if High School if Dudley Dursley, College is Harry Potter. And it's not that she lied, because she clearly felt that way. But I kind of felt like High School was Voldemort and College was somewhere between Dudley and Harry. Maybe like a Hermione?

But I feel like that metaphor is getting a little out of control. So instead I'll just talk about the book.

As always, Gayle Forman's prose is BRILLIANT. FOR EXAMPLE: I was on a train to Paris when I started this book (I KNOW. My life is pretty cool like that every now and again) and I totally got what she was saying about the "whomp" of the passing train. Which also happens to be one of my favorite noises, but I'm weird like that. In any case, my point is that Gayle Forman could write the everything out of anything.

The characters are also pretty stellar. Okay, MAYBE Allyson's a little whiny, but I kind of LIKE THAT. I can't count the number of times a week I say: "THESE YA STORIES ARE SO UNREALISTIC YOU WOULD NEVER MEET A CUTE, NON-MURDERING BOY LIKE THAT." But for Allyson to be SO GUTTED after meeting a cute, non-murdering boy like that, especially given her established straight-laced personality, is just the way real life rolls. For once I was like, WHY YES, this protagonist is HUMAN. Which was pretty amazing.

I'd also like to comment on Willem's character. But I can't, really. Even if I was into spoilers (which I'm not), we just don't know enough. Yes, he's a whimsical pixie of a hunk, but that's about all we know. So basically, I'M INTRIGUED. Which is probably exactly where Gayle Forman wants me.

As for college, yes. That is what college is like. There are a million boring classes that you never pay attention in, you want to sleep all the time, you do eat all the time and sometimes you have bad relationships with people you'd think you'd have good relationships with. But also, there's the occasional class that blows your mind, a few good friends (which is all you really need) and a lot of crazy spontaneity that you can never really account for. It's really like I said: as a recent college grad, I totally identify with this book in a lot of the bad ways (bye forever friends from home) but also in some of the good ways too (people feed me cookies).

All in all, I think that a lot of this reason this book was so amazing for me was because I still had college in mind while reading it. And also because I was on my way to Paris when I started it. The whole thing just resonated so deeply inside my heart and I feel so much love for Allyson. Willem too, but mostly Allyson. And Wren, who's beyond Harry Potter on the awesome scale. Also Dee. I would say he's beyond Wren on the Harry Potter awesome scale.

Hm... maybe I need to design a new scale...

But as much as I totally LOVED this coming of age story, I need Willem's story nownownow. For reals. This wait? It's torturous. I don't know if Allyson's going to grow more or what in the next book and I really don't even care because I just want to know what's up with Willem. He is ALL OF THE INTRIGUE and I just want to KNOW. It doesn't even have to be meaningful or stunning like Allyson's story, y'know?

The long and short of it?

Plot: It's a simple plot, I think, but what Gayle Forman does with it is completely and utterly stunning.
World Building: THIS IS COLLEGE (in a THIS IS SPARTA sort of way. Equally murderous, at times).
Character Development: I love all of the characters. They all grow and change in ways that are so true to life and subtle and amazing. I just want to read more about all of them ASAP.
Prose: This is one of those books where you don't have to work to imagine the story because the words on the page take care of that for you. Gayle Forman just knows how to tell a tale, y'know?
Would I Recommend This Book?: Technically, I think this book is NA. It's REALLY GOOD either way, so if you like an awesome coming of age story with a hot guy acting as catalyst to said coming of age (as opposed to being some kind of sign of success at the end) then this one's for you.

So talk to me, my loves: How did/does college rank for you guys on The Scale of Awesome? And this book? Where does it fall for you? Furthermore, feel free to share stories about how much higher learning sucked/rocked, because I'm sure I have plenty of stories to share with all of you in return!


  1. JUST ONE DAY <33333
    I'm a Gayle Forman fan now and forever so I LOVE reading reviews for any of her books!
    I agree - I saw a few people who were upset with the fact that Allyson was so torn up about this boy she knew for only a day, but it was special day and we're girls! These things HAPPEN. I feel like so many of us have done the same! I felt like it was realistic and it wasn't JUST the boy that got her so lost in her own life. There were so many other realizations too about herself, her parents, her friends, school...
    Great review! :)

    1. COLLEGE IS HARD. I'm glad you agree with me about Allyson though. It stresses me out a little when people are hard on her.

      Thanks for stopping by, Brittany!! :)

  2. I loved this book and your review.

    Also, I need Just One Year like, yesterday.

    1. THANKS GORGEOUS. And yes. I also need Just One Year. These duologies should be put out one right after another. Less waiting. Please.

  3. Ah, wonderful review lady! I understand exactly how you feel about Allyson and her college "experience". The main reason I loved this book as much as I did was because I could understand Allyson so well. I think she and I are at the same point in our lives (pretty much the start of college, though it's actually my second time starting :) anyway) and EVERYTHING she felt and did... it felt like such a personal story. Though she eventually grew out of it and I'm still getting used to it. Despite the "simple" story, the character growth is so very well done, and probably one of my favorites in books EVER. Plus the Dutch words... I HAD to like this book, y'know ;)

    1. YES! Every time there was a Dutch word I was like JUDITH! So basically this book was a combination of college thoughts, Paris thoughts and JUDITH. Not to mention you were the one who told me to take this one to Paris with me, so you're very much a part of this experience (I hope you're feeling pleased with yourself right about now!).

      But seriously, good luck with the college thing. I hope it ranks of the Dee end of things on the awesome scale ;-D

  4. I absolutely LOVED this book. I had never read a Gayle Forman book before this, but now that I have, I can definitely say that she knows how to write such real, authentic stories.

    I found that I identified with Allyson quite a bit, especially her transforming journey in the book. I loved that this book was set in college too! College was the most amazing time of my life, although it did have its low points. Overall though, I learned a lot about myself and what I was capable of, and I made some of the best friends ever.

    1. I'm glad your college experience was so positive! AND that you liked this book :) <3

  5. I've seen so many reviews of this one, but really... this is the first one that I've read that makes me think OMGINEEDTOGETMYHANDSONTHISBOOK! I personally didn't think college was all that. In fact, with the exception of second semester freshman year, college kind of sucked. Or was at least mediocre. Anyway... not gonna get into a tangent about college... just wanted to say I NEED TO READ THIS BOOK! :)

    1. UGH. I'm sorry college was no fun for you >.< I wish we both had better experiences. BUT I'm glad my review has you all grabby hands over this book!!! I can't tell you how much joy that brings me since that's kind of of the whole point of these reviews in the first place. So THANKS FOR THAT MY DEAR! <3

  6. No one fed ME cookies in college! Clearly, I was going to the wrong place. I think I liked being the college age much better than I liked actually being at college. I mean, eighteen - mid twenties is such a good age to be - your dreams and ideals are still bright and shiny and passionately held, you're not tied down by a million responsibilites so you CAN do stuff like spontaneous road-trips and ridiculously late nights, but some of those crazy teenage hormones have calmed down by then. Plus you've got a slightly better grasp on who the hell you are and what you want, but you've still got some becoming to do. So good!

    I loved If I Stay (one of the very, very few books that made me cry) and Where She Went, but I haven't gotten around to picking up this one yet. SOON MY PRETTY, SOON. Love your review though!

    1. I totally agree with the 18-mid twenties being a great age. But I think part of that is because you're in college. I mean, it's kind of designed to let you be less responsible and such. But YES do read this one. Gayle Forman is THE BEST. ^_^


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