Jan 8, 2014

Book Review: Just One Day - Gayle Forman

Title: Just One Day (Just One Day #1)
Author: Gayle Forman
Release Date: August 20th 2013 (first published January 8th 2013)
Publisher: Speak
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: Bought
Allyson Healey's life is exactly like her suitcase - packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.
A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the "accidents" of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost... and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know.
Holy. Crap. What the asdfghjkl did I just read?!

Well, one of the best asdfghjkl books I've ever read is what it is. Reading Just One Day didn't feel like I was getting a story relayed to me; instead, it was like having a conversation - a witty, funny, and poignant conversation with a stranger whom I felt like I'd known forever. It was also a journey that I might as well have taken myself because this was damn good writing. It pulled me in and made me feel every little flutter and drop.

Allyson is the good girl who usually stuck with the safe and old. Fresh out of high school, her parents send her on a trip around Europe that doesn't quite meet her expectations, but a few days before she's about to fly back home, she meets Willem, a wandering Dutch two years older than her who can recite Shakespeare in French - so swoony, I know. When he learns that she's bummed because she wouldn't make it to Paris, he offers to take her there for a day, and she accepts.

During Allyson and Willem's eventful day in Paris, I got the same feels I had when I watched Before Sunrise. They walked, talked, ate, laughed, saw, and ran, and that may sound boring but it's not because through all that, they felt. Watching them meet and connect and stain each other all in one day was a real treat because it was serendipity at its finest. And haven't we all felt that at least once? Perhaps when we met a friend or, closer to Allyson's case, a lover? It fascinates me how something magical like the story in this book can actually happen in real life.

But after that one enchanting day, it was like getting caught in a rainstorm that was Allyson's life. Even a month after, she was clearly as hurt and lost as if it had only been a day. I really pitied Allyson because her old, monotonous life suddenly seemed infinitely better than her new, confused reality; I'd never wanted to hug a fictional character so much before. What made her confusion worse was that no one understood her pain, not even her best friend who knew what had happened, because how much could you feel for a person whom you'd known for all of just one day? No one knew that the answer was everything.

Just One Day isn't only about the romance that blossomed during that time, though. Willem's abandonment might have left Allyson agonized, but she couldn't deny that he had showed her the kind of person she truly wanted to be: someone who pleased herself instead of other people.  
But still, that whole day, being with Willem, being Lulu, it made me realize that all my life I've been living in a small, square room, with no windows and no doors. And I was fine. I was happy, even. I thought. Then someone came along and showed me there was a door in the room. One that I'd never even seen before. Then he opened it for me. Held my hand as I walked through it. And for one perfect day, I was on the other side. I was somewhere else. Someone else. And then he was gone, and I was thrown back into my little room. And now, no matter what I do, I can't seem to find that door.
Allyson being lost and unknowing of what to do with her life was a bit hard for me to read because that is me right now. I may have not met a cute guy on the train and fallen for him while touring the city of love, but I am her. I'm in college, studying things I'm not even interested in, afraid to disappoint everyone who expects hugely different things from me. And until now I feel uncomfortable thinking, when will I have courage like Allyson's and take the leap?

Even though it rekindled my wanderlust - and taught me not take one of those tour packages with the tour guides for when I finally do get to travel - Just One Day, ultimately, scarred me. I am never going to fall in love! ...Yeah, not quite like that. I mean it scarred me in a way like how Allyson was pained but now it's over and she's stronger. Okay, I think this is the end of me making sense in this review, so just trust me when I say that this book is so good, I finished reading it with tears in my eyes, and then I facepalm-ed and screeched because I didn't have a copy of Just One Year yet.

MY FAVORITE PART was Allyson and Willem's just one day, of course.


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