Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Series: Just One Day #1
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Reading Level: New Adult, 14+
Pages: 368 (ARC)
Source: Trade
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!
~*~Lili's Reflections~*~

I don't really know what to say about this one, so I'm going to review it a little differently with a pros and cons list. Really, there's a single con and a lot of pros. But, in my opinion, this one con far outweighs the pros, but there were enough pros to eventually redeem the book in my eyes and bring it up to 4.5 stars. Still, I have to admit I'm slightly disappointed. I was expecting a five star read that would blow me away and while I enjoyed it, it just didn't live up to the hype for me.


The Writing.
This is my first Forman book, and I have to admit that all rumors about her beautiful writing style were true. I couldn't get enough of her writing because it was so unique and vivid. When she was describing passionate and intense emotions, I often felt them. When she was describing the beautiful European cities that Allyson visited, or even her little dorm room, I could easily picture it. Forman's writing and attention to detail is amazing, and I'll certainly be checking out her other books because it's really easy to fall in love with her writing. She also put some really nice jokes in there that had me truly laughing out loud.

Our Love Interest: Willem de Ruiter.
He was an amazing love interest, totally unique and interesting and all scenes with him held my attention. I enjoyed his mere literary presence and the words that came out of his mouth. Certainly an amazing love interest to keep us girls focused on this amazing little tale. I also found his trouble with understanding Americanisms and slang was entertaining. 

Side Characters.
I connected to each and every one of them, I liked them all for different reasons. The Senegalese bouncer, the flamboyant and homosexual Dee from the South Bronx, Kali from California and her odd stressing syllables. Melanie and her ever-changing persona (as frustrating as she could be), Jenn the lesbian, Kendra the other roommate to make the Fab Four. I enjoyed them all in the end. I disliked each of them at different times for different reasons, but they always redeemed themselves and truly exemplified the different struggles that your average college-aged kid faces.

I've enjoyed some Shakespeare plays and I've disliked others, so I was worried going into this. I didn't want it to get shoved in my face, and while I admittedly found myself skimming some passages where they were analyzing Shakespeare, I certainly focused when I noticed the comparisons to the characters' lives. And even more, I loved how Shakespeare was a reoccurring theme that helped Alyson inadvertently find herself. 

The Traveling.
As a world traveler and lover of traveling, this aspect of the book was what redeemed it the most. I've never been to Holland or France, so the passages where Alyson and Willem were in these locations came alive for me. They painted vivid and believable (as well as realistic) pictures of these countries that I truly hope to visit one day. They awakened the inner travel nerd in me and kept me wanting more because I was continuously squealing with delight from the imagery. This book was beyond exceptional in this aspect.


Our Main Character: Alyson "Lulu" Healey.
I did not connect to Alyson at times because I just had issues with how she acted. Firstly, while with Willem, she was super jealous of every female he came in contact with. Granted, there were many, but this is a guy who she knew for only a day. She followed her gut for an adventure and it didn't end the way she wanted it to, so she tormented herself for nearly a year over a boy that she knew for all of 24 hours. It bugged me, a lot. She gave up her life for a boy, and while her journey to rediscovering herself (a combination of French Lulu and real Alyson) was interesting and emotional, I wanted to kick her sometimes to just get over it. If I wanted a true love at first sight story I would have picked up THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT. And while I adore such a theme, I don't like it when it's shoved in my face because the main character practically gives up on life after the first meeting. I understand that she forged a strong emotional connection that day and night with Willem, but I wanted to get her to grow up sometimes and stand on her own two feet instead of being dependent on a boy all the way across the ocean that she hasn't seen for nine months.

I just felt like that aspect of the book was not only slightly annoying, but slow. And it also could be sending the wrong message to some.

All in all, I did enjoy this one, but Alyson's emotional ways of dealing with things did not resonate with me and made me dislike her characterization a lot. The ending, of course, redeemed the book because she finally realized she's in carge of her own destiny and fate and she did something about it, but the journey to get to the epiphany seemed long and laborious at times.

I recommend this to anyone looking for a unique romance, but know a solid chunk of this book is not romance. I would follow the 14+ recommendation because there is sex in this, though not entirely detailed. I'm looking forward to book two because of the cliffy ending and the fact that after everything, Forman has succeeded in making me desperately want a happy ending for these two.   

4.5 stars


1 comment:

  1. I loved this book so much! I think you make some interesting points about Lulu as a character though! I liked reading what you thought!