Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: January 8th, 2013
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.
"[Allyson's] personal journey to finding herself and finding her own strength is so powerful and almost inspiring to me."
Note: I originally wanted to make this a mini-review, but then I started just writing. I'm still going to call it a mini-review though because I'm not really covering most of what I cover in my reviews.
A little more than halfway through reading this book, I was ready to give this book a 3 or 3.5, but then, the story began to change, and it began to reshape itself, totally becoming a story that I loved and connected with.
I enjoyed the beginning. I did. But the pacing felt wonky, and the book wasn't really keeping me engaged. I loved the setting for the story, but none of it felt particularly "real" for me, not because it can't happen, but because there was something that was missing for me. It was cute but also a really awkward situation when you look at it in a grander context. I mean, I wish I could do something similar--end up in a random place in Paris and explore the parts that tourists don't tend to see--but I don't think I'd ever do it with some guy I just met.
And then Allyson's loss of identity and sense of self just made it all crash down even further. Maybe it's because I've never been in love or anything, but I couldn't get why she couldn't just get over it. I know, easier said than done, but she had barely even known him!
But then it began to pick up, and Allyson's journey began to fascinate me. On the one hand, I still wanted to shout at her to get over it, but on the other hand, her personal journey to finding herself and finding her own strength is so powerful and almost inspiring to me. I totally understood Allyson's self-doubt, and I connected to that. I've been in her place, feeling all that self-hate, faking for so long you don't even know who the real you is anymore. I deal with that every day. But her story and her journey gives me hope.
I also really enjoyed the discussion about the difference between being in love and falling in love. It's a distinction I never used to think about, but now, I'm constantly thinking about the difference between the two phrases. We see them as equal phrases, but what if they're not?
Anyway, I think another reason I began to greatly connect to Allyson is that I'm about to head off to college. Her fallout with Melanie is everything I fear about going to college and that feeling of everyone moving on and becoming someone new draws in and scares me at the same time (which is funny because I'm that person that can't wait to get out of high school, doesn't really have any friends so it doesn't really matter, and am really excited to finally be who I am/be someone new). And she has really interesting relationships with her roommates. I'm scared I'll be like that too--too anti-social and with too much social anxiety to make any friends (which I know is irrational but whatever). But then there's Dee! He's such a big part of Allyson's journey, and he's such an amazing character that came in at the perfect time in the book. I wish I could have more friends like him!
Overall, it was slow and a bit disappointing at first, but the latter portion of the book really made up for a lot of it and left me with lots to ponder.