Note: This review is spoiler-free!
Gayle Forman completely swept me away with Just One Day. Allyson’s journey from that one life-changing day to where she ends up was exquisitely transformative. I didn’t expect to feel such an impact by it, but I did and couldn’t wait to have its companion, Just One Year, in my hands. Well, a couple weeks ago, I got lucky and an ARC arrived in the mail. Usually I wait to read a galley closer to its release, so it says something when I drop practically everything else I’m doing to read a book. I just needed to know “where the hell was Willem?” After Just One Day with Allyson, I needed that closure too.
I’m more than happy to say that Just One Year delivers on everything you could possibly want from it. We finally get to see what happened with Willem, but not only that, we get to know him. And, of course just like Allyson, you definitely will be in love with him by the end of this book.
Willem is always on the run, but one day he wakes up and doesn’t know where he is. It’s when the memories of the past day finally come into focus that he realizes he left Lulu (aka Allyson) alone. Too bad he’s in a hospital, beaten badly and waiting for a doctor to release him so he can find her before she leaves. As we all know, he’s too late, and once again, he is alone. He heads back to Holland to sort out some family affairs and is surprised that he can’t shake off the impression that Lulu left on him. Determined, he tries to find her with the very little information he knows about her. But she remains elusive and he begins to wonder if it was ever meant to be. It leads him on journey about confronting his past and his future, deciding finally what he wants of life and love, and discovering the true meaning of “double happiness. “
I don’t know where to begin besides saying that this is the perfect answer to Just One Day. Willem’s journey is different than Allyson’s, while they both in search for each other, they were each dealing with their own lives, families and friends. Forman writes Willem’s story beautifully with passion and subtlety. As he globetrots around the world, each place and moment resonates with the reader as much as it does with Willem. There’s an ease when reading about him, something comforting yet unfamiliar and fascinating. As I continued to read, it became clearer and clearer that that Allyson’s story could not be complete without his.
I want to remain vague on what exactly happens in the book, but I will say that one of my favorite parts is the relationship between Willem and Yael. Seeing it transform was so rewarding and heartfelt. Also, learning about Willem’s past, especially his parents’ past, is another favorite part; I loved how it connects to his present.
If there’s one thing I would have to complain about—even though I don’t count it as a real complaint—it would be that at least midway through, the ending becomes quite obvious. I knew how it was going to end, but the thing is that I LOVED that it was going to end like that. So I’m very happy it did because I couldn’t imagine a better ending for this epic tale of love and self-discovery. It also goes to show that while the end is important, everything that leads up to that moment is just as meaningful. Just One Day and Just One Year aren’t just about the destination, but about the journey. Allyson and Willem become maybe not just better, but happier people in the process. They become who they need to be for each other. While it doesn’t feel like it exactly when reading, it’s a coming of age tale in its truest form.
I want to thank Gayle Forman for not only giving readers one of the most romantic stories ever, but for making it about each of these two individuals, giving readers something that for sure feels magical while feeling wholly real.
Just One Year by Gayle Forman hits shelves October 15, 2013. Support The Young Folks and purchase the book at our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.
Publisher: Dutton Books (October 15, 2013)
Length: 336 pages (Hardcover)
Series: Just One Day Book 2 of 2
Source: ARC (Provided by Publisher)
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Completed: July 2013