Review: Just One Day

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Just One DayJust One Day by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #1
Published by Dutton Juvenile on January 8, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

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.

First Sentence: “What if Shakespeare had it wrong?”

Review:
Words fail me on a fairly regular basis, refusing to come to the call of my immediate need or to properly describe the feelings I want to convey. Actually, this partially explains my lifelong search for other people’s words with which to fill myself up, to borrow and learn from. My life consists of a perpetual search not just for knowledge and meaning, but of the best ways to put those things into the precise diction that will allow me to share these insights with other in powerful ways. My favorite authors, Gayle Forman included, excel at conveying big life lessons in simple, natural ways, not so much handing down truths from their lofty, genius heights, but making you feel their truth in your core. Unfortunately, I do not yet posses this talent, so I will probably fail to properly describe the power of Just One Day to you, especially because there is so much of it that I cannot discuss, because I think this novel is best enjoyed completely without conception of where its headed.

For some reason, perhaps because I read just a little bit of the blurb, I imagined Just One Day to be a happy sort of contemporary novel, perhaps a slightly darker companion to Meant to Be, which also opens with a trip to London and includes numerous Shakespeare references. I really should have known better, having enjoyed the darkness of Forman’s If I Stay and Where She Went. Forman positively shines at making the reader run the whole gamut of emotions right alongside the main character. Just One Day made me smile, laugh, sigh, swoon, and ache in my heart for Allyson. During the hours I had to stop reading and go to work, I could not stop thinking of her plight, and those thoughts came with an almost physical level of discomfort and worry for Allyson. Basically, any novel that can make me care so much rates exceedingly highly with me, particularly because that only happens in novels with marvelous characterization.

For those of you who like to take vacations through literature, this book will be such a great friend. There are so many sights and places to be experienced within its pages. Even better, they’re not just the touristy highlights, but also the more basic culture. I had so many flashbacks to my own European travels, like how you really do meet Australians in hostels everywhere, and they’re really loud and sociable, and how Europeans really do like to help, offering up extraordinary experiences and waving away offers of payment.

Yesterday, I posted on instalove in YA literature, and how tired I get of the relatively unvaried romantic plot lines in the majority of the fiction. Well, Just One Day was such a fitting read to embark upon after that, because I felt as though Forman targeted a lot of that and wrote something unique and meaningful and unflinchingly honest. What she did with the romance, though I cannot tell you what that was, I approve.

Forman differs quite a bit in her portrayal of family as well. In young adult fiction, parents are notoriously absent, allowing the teens to have adventures parents would never approve. Actually, Allyson’s mother and father are not in that much of the novel, as she spends most of it on vacation or at college, but, though not physically with her, they are almost constantly present. An only child, her parents have exceedingly high expectations for her and seem determined to have her fulfill them, pressuring her and preventing her from figuring out who she really is until she has the space of this first year away from home to really come of age.

Of course, I wanted to twirl around with happiness during nigh every reference to Shakespeare, especially during analytical discussions of his works. However, I also felt a strong correlation to another of my favorite classic works, A Room with a View by E.M. Forster, which details the coming of age of Lucy Honeychurch on a trip to Italy. Her experiences there change her in unanticipated ways, which at first frustrate and frighten her, but ultimately teach her a lot about life and the best ways to live it. Perhaps I’m just making this connection up, but there was a quote near the end that really brought that novel the surface to me, one about the Yes of life. Whether that second similarity was intended or entirely in my head, I marveled over the dialog Forman developed between classic works of literature and modern life.

Right now, I want to do nothing so much in the world as travel all around Europe, accompanied by a copy of the sequel/companion novel to Just One Day, which will apparently be from Willem’s perspective, which seems an interesting correlation to If I Stay and Where She Went.

Favorite Quote:

“‘See?’ Willem asks. ‘You thought too hard. Same with travel. You can’t work too much at it, or it feels like work. You have to surrender yourself to the chaos. To the accidents.’
‘I’m supposed to walk in front of a bus and then I’ll have a good time?’
Willem chuckles. ‘Not those accidents. The little things that happen. Sometimes they’re insignificant; other times, they change everything.'”

89 responses to “Review: Just One Day”

  1. Giselle says:

    “Words fail me on a fairly regular basis” Baha. This surprises me! You’re always so witty with your timely comebacks! πŸ˜›

    This sounds good though especially with my contemporary kick lately. Contemps needs to really make me feel for me to enjoy them though which this one looks like it would achieve. I also like how you describe the romance I’m curious what she does with it!

    • Christina says:

      Haha, I’m a bit better on the computer. The words I want often sit right out of a reach in a dusty corner of my mind.

      YES. You should definitely read this one, because FEELS!!!

  2. Jamie says:

    YES YES YES!!! Makes me so freaking happy you loved this one too! Let’s go to Gayle’s house, steal Just One Year and go frolic around Europe!!

    AHHH Willem! *panty throw*

    Great review! I, too, thought I couldn’t do this book justice with my words but I think you definitely got across your love! I think the one thing that this book did for me, and it seems for you two, is show just how masterful Gayle is with her characters. How she makes us care so much that our own hearts just do crazy things while reading. I was thinking about this after finishing…about how maybe If I Stay was a more obvious “emotional read” but this just demonstrated even more how there really is no one like Gayle Forman — she just gets me all emotional with how much I care. The feelings she is able to evoke. AHHHHH.

    SO GOOOOOOOD! I LOVE BOOKS!!!

    *end fangirl crazy comment*

    • Christina says:

      Can we? PLEASE. She sort of asked us too by making all of that sound so damn appealing!

      *swoons onto fainting couch* He is just my type, aside from being really easy. haha.

      She really does characters so well. Even when they’re doing stupid things and you’re like PLEASE NO STOP SAVE YOURSELF, she has me completely with the character. I understand why they do the things they do and I am just so in their heads, and they are so completely real to me. Actually, I think this one may have made me more emotional on a lot of levels, perhaps because it’s closer to being something that could happen to me? Because it’s realistic rather than fantasy-esque?

      ME TOOOOOO! *dances*

  3. Lilian says:

    Ah ha! So you finally gave in and read it.

    I mention this because in every review/post I’ve seen mention Just One Day, I see you comment about it. Then I start wondering when you will actually read the thing already.

    Just for one day is on my anticipated 2013 releases list because so many people are loving it. Though that cover makes me want to sleep. “What’s this? a book about traveling and drinking coffee?”

    Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

    • Christina says:

      Haha, I bumped it up two whole books in my reading schedule! I couldn’t wait any longer. I try not to review too far ahead of publication most of the time, but the waits are EXCRUCIATING!

      Actually, the cover totally fits the book. It is about traveling. The coffee doesn’t really matter too much, but the watch is important!

  4. You know, I ashamed to admit that I was considering just mailing this one off to Kat without reading it. But now I see I must reconsider and read it post haste!! Especially considering that I’ve never read a Gayle Forman book before. *complete fail* Great review, Christina.

  5. I am drooling over this, you know that right? It sounds so good! I love that there is so much travelling, present parents who aren’t even really that present and I want to know what happens with the love! This one is taking way too long to come out. Fantastic review Christina.

    Oh and I find it hard to believe that words fail you! I come to YOU when I need words! LOL

  6. annejude says:

    Thank you for this review!
    Well, I was thinking about looking fot and reading this book, but somehow I forget, so thank you for the reminder.

    I really like this little bit darker kind of contemporary, where people can read about something different than just about same plot lines, scenes and cliches.

    Another thing, that sounds really good to me, is the theme of traveling.

    • Christina says:

      Yes, read it! This is my advice for everyone.

      Very much darker, though not endlessly depressing, and not full of cliches at all.

      Marvelous traveling.

      All around wonderful, basically.

  7. Kat Balcombe says:

    I am so glad you loved it too – I think I may have cried if you didn’t!

    Those damn Aussies get around everywhere!

    46 1/2 days left to wait – grrrrrrrrr. But YAY!

  8. Christina Kit. in the form

    This sounds awesome!! I love it when there are literary references, and I absolutely loved her other books, If I Stay and Where She Went!

    And your review was lovely – you truly conveyed your love for this book!!

  9. AH, I need this book stat. A refreshing take on romance, truths, Shakespeare quotes, figuring out who you are away from your parents… I actually could have really used this a few years back, though even now I’m sure it will have relevance and have me laugh, smile, cry too. You seem to have found the right words for your review :).

  10. Nikki says:

    Gayle Forman is one of those authors I didn’t really expect to like. If I Stay didn’t sound like my cup of tea, but then I read it – and wow, does that woman know how to craft an emotional rollercoaster or what. Sounds like this one is the same. This has probably been featured on more Waiting on Wednesday posts to count, but this is probably my most anticipated 2013 release. Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

  11. Tracey G says:

    i am so excited to read this book. this review made me even more pumped up about it πŸ˜€

  12. Estelle says:

    What a solid review. I know what you mean so much about taking these characters with you when you can’t always be reading the book. I always find that to be a great sign too. Gayle definitely turned my head with “If I Stay” because it’s not my typical kind of book but whoa, she did it well.

    I’m certainly looking forward to picking up my copy of the book when it comes out. I’m so glad to see positive reviews across the board. And most importantly, people relating so strongly to it.

    • Christina says:

      Yeah, I was sort of skeptical of If I Stay going in, especially because she wrote a sequel, so it was pretty obvious what the answer to ‘To Be or Not to Be’ would be, you know? But even with that, I was completely wowed by the book. In fact, Where She Went was maybe even better, which doesn’t happen often.

  13. Beautiful review, and without revealing the story you gave me a strong sense of the book.

  14. laceyblossom says:

    I am unbelievably excited for Just One Day!! I’m so glad you loved it. I was a bit worried about how the book would be, because I absolutely loved If I Stay and Where She Went, but after reading your review, I feel like Gayle Forman definitely won’t let me down πŸ™‚ Great review!

  15. Nikki says:

    Thank you so much for a great review! I always look forward to reading books that people say are so powerful that they cannot even begin to fathom how to describe it. Those are the best kind of books — the ones that leave you discovering something so profound that it leaves a lasting impression.

  16. Lynn K. says:

    I just love the first paragraph, though I think your reviews are wonderful (and have thought that since I stumbled across the one on Stormdancer). No idea why this book wasn’t on my radar before but now I’m wanting it like crazy!

  17. So, she wrote a fresh romance and a different family situation from what we normally find in YA. I can’t say I’m really surprised, I expected no less from Forman. While I’m not exactly a contemporary fan, I recognize talent when I see it, and Gayle Forman is one of the best.
    Wonderful review!

  18. Gosh I want to read this sooo bad. It sounds like the perfect book for me. I love travel literature, backpacking, and Wanderlove was one of my favorite reads last year. I have not read this author yet, but based on your review, I think I need to get this book as soon it comes out if I do not win this giveaway.

    This was a REALLY good review. Your words are perfectly fine. πŸ˜‰

  19. Tricia C. says:

    I was so relieved when I read your review. I love Gayle Forman’s books and was very excited to learn she was coming out with a new book. I love handing her books to my students. Of course, I love reading them myself first:)

  20. I’m super glad u loved this book Christina because I love anything by Gayle Forman. I’m glad shes keeping her books dark and fresh. Im also interested to see the romance and the characters when this book comes out. πŸ™‚ great review girl!

  21. Sounds awesome! I’m not usually a contemporary fan but this one sounds like something I would enjoy! I’ve never read a book by Gayle Forman, I’m looking forward to it now that I’ve read your review and the many comments πŸ™‚

    great review!

    Rachel @ Books to Consider

  22. Confession time: I’ve never read a book by Gayle Forman. BUT I WANT TO. I’ve heard great things about this one and I’m definitely curious about it.

  23. Gea Bridged says:

    Thank you for the review and this pleasant giveaway! I am thrilled with the book with your reviews that I can able to tour to Europe without spending much cash for plane tickets! LOL! I’d definitely looove this!!!

  24. Leanne Yang says:

    Is this an adult book or YA? I think I’ll still read it either way, I loved her books! And I love books that make me cry as well πŸ™‚ Thanks for the review!

  25. Leanne Yang says:

    Okay, that was stupid. Your source says “YA Book Central” PFT. And your review says Young Adult fiction. Oh god, I’m stupid.

    • Christina says:

      That’s not a stupid question at all Leanne! I really think this book works for teens or adults. Since the heroine is college, I suspect a lot of people will term it *shudder* New Adult. *showers*

  26. Sabryy says:

    Awesome review, I would love to read this book! <3

  27. This book sounds so interesting, but I still feel kinda skeptical about it. Still, intrigued enough to enter your giveaway. And it sounds like YOU liked it, so that’s a good sign. πŸ™‚

  28. I am so looking forward to this book after your review! I’ll admit that I wasn’t blown away by If I Stay, but this one sounds so, so, so good. I have to give it a shot. I hope I love it as much as you did! πŸ™‚

  29. I think I was of the mind that this was a lighter read as well. I’m not sure why. I’m glad it’s a darker, more emotional read.
    Great review, if I wasn’t already dying for it I would be now.

  30. Katta says:

    I’ve wanted to check out Gayle Forman’s work for a while, and I think I might have to make this my first book of hers. I like the Shakespearian element.

  31. Yes, yes. I want nothing more but to travel to Europe with this book in my bag as well.

    Oh goodness did I love Just One Day.

    And the comparison to A Room With A View? That makes me want to read A Room With A View desperately. I think I have a copy laying around here somewhere.

    Also? Your words did an awesome job conveying how much you liked Just One Day. <3

    • Christina says:

      Let’s go! You can be my travel buddy! Plus, you have a BF, so all the hot foreign men are for ME! πŸ˜‰

      OMG, you should go read A Room with a View RIGHT NOW. Then watch the movie. And swoon into a helpless puddle of attraction to George. I have seen that movie so many times and it happens without fail.

  32. Pokadots1121 says:

    I am so excited for Just One Day. Thanks for this awesome review. It only makes me want it more!

  33. Renae says:

    True facts: I never read Foreman’s other novels because every time I read the jacket summary I thought of The Lovely Bones. I’m awful, I know. Maybe eventually I’ll read them.

    In any case, Just One Day is a book I’d definitely be more interested in reading based on the summary. And, of course, at the moment it’s universally loved. I real like how you mentioned everything I tend to like in books, and then talked about how Foreman did everything I like so well.

    • Christina says:

      Some negative reviews are starting to come out, because people are disgusted by Willem. I totally get it. He’s not a good guy. He’s not a guy you want the heroine to end up with, which is fine because that’s not what the book is about it. If it were a romance, I would be pissed, but it’s NOT.

  34. Aly says:

    I love Gayle Forman and will absolutely read ANYTHING that she writes πŸ™‚ I’m so glad the wait for this one isn’t that long.

  35. GAH! I want to read this book so bad! Hope WIllem will melt my heart as much as Adam did. Gayle sure can write a fantastic novel.

  36. Great review! I have been craving a good contemp just like this. So happy the wait is almost over. That first line was a great introduction, in my opinion. lol πŸ™‚

  37. Liene says:

    Your mention about wanting to travel Europe because of this book is what has got me interested – I love books that transport me or inspire me to travel.

  38. becca fowler says:

    Awesome review! im definitely putting this book on my tbr list! thanks

  39. Kirsten! says:

    Aw man aw man. This COMPLETELY slipped past my radar- how haven’t I heard of this til now?! Your review makes it sound amazing, and I will definitely be picking this up soon πŸ™‚

  40. Isa says:

    This book sounds amazing! I really enjoyed reading your review. I haven’t read anything by Gayle Forman as yet even though I know I’d probably love her writing. As soon as I read the synopsis for Just One Day I knew it was a book I had to have on my shelf. I love books about travelling and I’m even more excited to read this book after reading about how you felt towards Allyson.

  41. Erika says:

    Thanks for your thoughts! I look forward to reading this since I have heard so many great things about her other books.

  42. Aline Tobing says:

    Awesome review!
    I never read any book from Gayle Forman before, (shame on me LOL)
    I tend to stay away from books which filled with angst, the ones that left me feel terrible the whole day after I finish it but this book intrigues me. Maybe it’s the traveling around Europe thing. I always dream of traveling around Europe too but never had the chance. Maybe because it costly and time consuming πŸ˜€ But the idea to travel through this book sounds really appealing.

    • Christina says:

      Ha, this one definitely has some angst going on, but the writing’s so beautiful that I don’t mind. I gravitate to these because they tend to feel so much more real.

  43. Lea says:

    Great review! Didn’t give the impression that words failed you πŸ˜‰
    I’m a little afraid to read this one, though, because of all the FEELS… but who am I kidding, a book by Gayle Forman that I won’t read does not exist.

  44. Amazing review and I think you have an amazing way with words! I’ve read some up and down reviews on this book and have been torn myself, but this review makes me want to rush out and feel all these feelings. I want that up and down with my emotions, I want to laugh, cry and ache!

    • Christina says:

      Ha, yes, I’ve read some negative reviews for this as well, but I think it depends on the lens through which you view the book and Willem. If you think of it as a romance, it could be immensely frustrating. If you think of it as her coming of age journey, then it works just about perfectly.

  45. Great Review!! I can’t wait to read this book. I love Where She Went and If I stay, and I no doubt that I will love this book too πŸ˜€

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