So, it’s been almost a year since I’ve written any kind of book review of sorts, and at one point I’d even pledged I wouldn’t go back down the old book blogger road, as much as I still do read, but that only lasted for so long and it turns out I just can’t help myself. I did make it a long way though; so for that, I applaud myself.
It’s been a while since I’ve felt moved, or rather, changed, by any novel in particular, and that’s why I’ve stayed away from book blogging, but this novel has convinced me to do otherwise. I think it’s safe to say that Just One Day took my expectations and raised the bar too high to probably live up to for a while.
For anyone who’s ever had a bad case of wanderlust or has ever just wanted to lose themselves in a place they’ve never been before, here’s the synopsis:
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.
Just One Day starts out on Allyson’s last night on a teen tour across Europe when she comes across Willem, a boy who coaxes her into ditching the boring old sad routine of Hamlet and gets her to take a chance at Twelfth Night, which he’ll be performing in as Sebastian for Guerilla Will, a bandit group of illegal Shakespearean performers. She later comes across Will again the next morning on the tube, where he convinces her to spend a day with him in France, something she’s been wanting to do from the moment she’d stepped foot in Europe and hasn’t had the chance to get to.
Together, they embark on a day of exploration all throughout the backlots of Paris, and after a personal night spent together, Allyson awakens the next morning to find Willem gone.
The novel continues throughout a year span of Allyson going off to college in Boston and trying to forget Willem, as impossible as it is, where she winds up enrolling in a Shakespeare Outloud course only to find herself reminiscing of that one day in Paris.
Throughout the novel, Allyson learns things about herself she was never really sure about prior to knowing Will. We see her take her future into her own hands rather than letting her parents lead her career path, take risks, and conquer fears she never thought possible.
More than anything, Just One Day is central on the idea of fighting for what matters most and seeing that the unexpected isn’t all bad. You take away so much from this novel, but most of all, you take passion and wanderlust. Allyson battles so much in the novel, and it almost feels as if you do too. As promptly one year later, after saving enough cash from her job and enrolling in a French class, she chooses to fly back to Paris to find Willem, more sure of herself than ever, more herself than ever. The second time around you see the changes she’s made to herself and the growth she’s gone through, and it’s equal parts heartbreaking and beautiful. There’s a sense of confidence you can gain from reading this novel. So much in life is uncertain, but without the possibilities of uncertainties and accidents, chances are nonexistent and paths that are meant to be explored never are. Just One Day isn’t just romance, it’s exploration and self discovery, something everyone’s been through one time or another.
I wish there was more I could say about Just One Day, but it’s something that everyone should experience for themselves, and I don’t want to take away anything from this beautiful novel. All in all, if you’ve ever felt lost or unsure, afraid or alone, Just One Day is the book for you.
If you’d like to know anything more about Just One Day or author Gayle Forman, a small interview I did with the author can be found right here.