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