Just One Day (Just One Day #1)

By Gayle Forman

Published January, 2013 by Dutton Juvenile

Genre: Young Adult, contemporary romance

368 Pages

Four stars

A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay

 Allyson Healey has just one day left before she heads back home to the US from her “trip of a lifetime” the ultimate European cultural experience her parents gave her as a graduation gift. But, it isn’t the trip that gave her a real cultural experience; not the endless tours and information thrown at her left and right that she absorbs and feels cultured. Instead, it all starts with a pamphlet in front of The Globe theater advertising Shakespeare’s comedy “The Twelfth Night” by a group called Guerrilla Will. It is then Allyson decides to break free from her tour group and get the cultural experience she so desired and expected.

All it took was one boy to show Ally how to really travel and see the world. After his stellar performance as Sebastian, and meeting him on a train on their way back to London, and him giving her the nickname Lulu does she become a different person–the adventurous, daring, free spirit that she wanted to be. He convinces her to go to Paris, the one city that the tour missed because of a strike; the one city she was dying to go to. All the cities she visited, like Rome, failed to live up to her expectations. But, Paris, Paris will be different. Willem, tall, dark (well blond), and handsome Dutch man takes her to Paris, the real Paris. Not going all touristy. Just authentically enjoying a city that lives up to her expectations.

So many wonderful things happen in this book. Ally’s struggles, both as Lulu and as herself, are authentic, something any teen and really adult can relate to, and imperfect just like we all are. She struggles with loving a boy she just met, going to college heartbroken, and friendless. It is the path that she decides to take towards the end that becomes inspiring. She goes back to Europe to find her lost love, continuously telling her love story. She meets new friends, see sights she never thought to see, and becomes Ally 2.0. And, I loved Ally 2.0. She is more free, less confined, and strong. So strong. Gayle Forman has a way of creating characters, female characters especially, as three dimensional, and someone you root for and care about. I rooted for Allyson, wanted to cry with her, and just smiled at her wit she didn’t even know she had. Not a lot of YA authors can craft an inspiring story that revolves around love. I have read countless love-centered novels that don’t really work. With this book, it isn’t about the ending, it is about the journey Allyson takes to finding herself and seeing how love, true love she feels, fit in. It takes her a year, not a week, to really feel all that love is. There is no rushing, no unrealistic expressions and actions. Everything just feels right.

It took me a long time to pick up this book to read. It was never on my top, no matter how much of a fan I was of If I Stay. I chose not to read Where She Went, but now I want to. I can’t wait for Just One Year now because the ending and teaser was so great. It is a good feeling when a book leaves you satisfied; complete in a way, like you’ve grown with the character. I would highly recommend this book. I read it in two sittings. Which is decent considering my mind wanders off too much. I just needed more. October can’t come fast enough.

“Sometimes the best way to find out what you’re supposed to do is by doing the thing you’re not supposed to do.”

Happy reading!