Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #45: Just One Year

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #45: Just One YearJust One Year by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #2
Published by Dutton Juvenile on October 10, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 323
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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three-stars

The heartrending conclusion—from Willem’s POV—to the romantic duet of novels that began with Allyson’s story in Just One Day

After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem’s story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.

I thought I was prepared for Just One Year, that I was going into it with the right expectations. One of the problems people had with Just One Day was that Willem was a bit of a bastard and it wasn’t a good romance. But, to my mind, it wasn’t a romance, and so that was all fine. Similarly, I expected Just One Year to be Willem’s journey out of his problems, using the mystery as a means of growing up. It both is and it isn’t, and I love it but I don’t.

Just One Year moves at a very slow pace, lacking the excitement of the “one day” that Allyson and Willem spent together. We pick up after that, going approximately one minute past the events of Just One Day. Though Willem does a lot of interesting things, he’s not propelled by anything, moving at random, so the novel doesn’t have a central thrust. It’s not driven so much by plot as by dramatic irony, the reader trying to piece out how he gets to the end. As the last chapter comes closer, that moves the pace faster. The pacing wasn’t particularly problematic for me, but I can definitely see where readers would struggle with this novel.

In fact, the pacing fits Willem perfectly, as he lacks direction. For all that he has a million fascinating stories to tell and has seen so much of the world, he’s not really engaged in it. Willem’s basically bored by everything, performing his role by rote. He’s driven by a concept of “accidents,” assuming that the world will push him to where he’s “meant to be.” He holds close to his heart his parents’ love story, which would not have come to fruition were it not for a series of accidents. All his life, his attitude has been one of “lol life,” in which he goes along with whatever comes his way.

Allyson, who he knows only as Lulu, came into his life through a similar series of accidents, but, after that one day, everything went wrong. His frustration with actually maybe wanting something and the accident theory not delivering it up on a platter the way life has always done for him leads him into a search that mirror’s Allyson’s in Just One Day. He’s not sure what he feels for her, but he’s not satisfied with what he knows about the day and feels compelled to learn more. His journey takes him to Mexico and India, where he ends up with a fairly significant role in a Bollywood movie.

Willem’s search and disconnection, the way he changes and questions his theories of life, I actually really liked. He is rather a bastard, but he’s starting to grow up somewhat, slowly and painfully. The foundation of his life, the idea that life will deliver the important things to him through happy accidents has been shaken, and he doesn’t know how to be anymore. He’s essentially having a crisis of faith, his interpretation of the universe shattering as he realizes that living without making decisions might not truly be living.

However, and I regret that I have to spoiler tag most of this, the conclusion really didn’t sit well with me. In a lot of ways, I feel like View Spoiler » negates the lessons he’s learned throughout the book. View Spoiler » The ending is frustrating and incredibly unsatisfying, since, when it comes down to it, we get one more infuriating detail to add to the events of Just One Day.

Depending on what you wanted out of this book, it will either be a confirmation of your beliefs or a frustrating deconstruction of them. Still, though I fell into the latter camp, I still liked it for the typical beauty of Forman’s writing, even if this now falls into place as my least favorite of her books.

Favorite Quote:

“My God. Have you been gone so long you’ve forgotten how to drink and ride a bike?” she asks. “How can you even call yourself Dutch anymore? We got you back just in time.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Willem trying to change his way of living.

Willem trying to change his way of living.


Up Next:

The Descendants - Kaui Hart Hemmings

The next Sadie Hawkins Sunday book will be The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings, as recommended by Kara (Great Imaginations). I know absolutely nothing about this book, but the cover is pretty and Kara has good taste, so I’m hopeful!

Want to tell me what to read? Fill out the following form with a suggestion! For more details, check this post.

11 responses to “Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #45: Just One Year”

  1. Katy says:

    Oh, I didn’t love this/was disappointed/unsatisfied by it, too. But I kind of feel differently about instalove, though I can see why you feel that way. I don’t feel like either one of them really thought it was love, to me it just felt like a connection they wanted to explore. I think for Willem, it was him thinking that he could feel more than what he normally feels and make that step towards love. He’s a bit of a loner, and he’s always knew about connection of his parents and he’s shied away from that, but now he’s more open to the idea of a meaningful connection and maybe love. His parents took a chance, and now he’s ready to maybe take a chance. I didn’t feel like either of them really thought it was love forever stuff. That is what I kind of felt like was happening, anyway. I’m not sure if this makes sense or if I should bother post this ridiculous comment, ha.

    BUT it would have been really nice to actually see them spend time together and for us to get to see them discuss the time and everything. I was really frustrated by the ending, even though I understand what she was doing. Plus, I read her post about expectations and her “it’s different” thing, and I get that, but you can’t help that sinking feeling when a book disappoints you.

    Anyway, I agree with most of what you said, especially about Willem and his development, and I think your review is great. Sorry for writing so much!
    Katy recently posted…Farewell November!My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      Well, I don’t think she thought she was in love, but that’s what I got from Willem. He’d held up his parents’ love story and at the end he compared their finding each other again to his parents having done so, which to me suggests that we’re meant to see this as the beginning of an epic love story like his parents had. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what I got, and that’s all the context Forman added to the conclusion. It’s cool if your interpretation is different, but that’s what I got.

      The fact that there was nothing more to go on was really frustrating. What I wanted was something more like Where She Went. While I knew that wasn’t going to happen, I still hoped for a bit more clarity, but, while this didn’t read like a retelling of Just One Day, it also didn’t add much overall.

      I haven’t read her comments, but being disappointed is a thing that happens, and it can’t be changed. We all have our own reactions. And, no need to apologize for the long comment. It’s much appreciated!

      • Katy says:

        The more I think about it, it’s very possible I pushed on that because I desperately wanted it to be more about being open to the possibility of love. I didn’t buy it, I borrowed it on Overdrive, so I can’t (and probably wouldn’t feel like) going back to see! If it’s supposed to be about instalove, it’s even more disappointing! I would much rather it be about being open to connections and things that MIGHT turn into love instead of “love will bring a girl to you if it is meant to be.” I still kind of ship them, but not in an instalove way? Like, maybe they can get to know each other and have fun together but it might not be a forever thing and that’s fine with me? I don’t know. It just would have been nice to see more of the actual togetherness. Writing them together and getting me interested then leaving off at one measly kiss is sad.

        But yeah, how she wrote the story, especially how many other girls were involved, even though they were a part of his growth and stuff, was just disappointing and tiring. I still plan on reading anything she writes but I don’t think I’ll be as !! excited as I was before.

        Thanks for you reply and I won’t apologize for length this time!
        Katy recently posted…Allegiant by Veronica Roth [thoughts]My Profile

  2. I tried to read this a few weeks ago and just couldn’t get into it. I really enjoyed Just One Day so I think my expectations were too high. Your statement that the pacing matched Willem because he lacks direction just might help me enjoy the story more. If I know that it is slower paced then I won’t be expecting anything else. Great review, Christina~
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    • Christina Franke says:

      The pace is really slow. That combined with the fact that the timeline doesn’t go past Just One Day’s explains the reception of Just One Year. I don’t think it’s bad, but it could have been so much more.

  3. Katie says:

    I’ve put off reading this one because I’ve heard so many negative things. I didn’t see the first one as a romance, and it sounds like Forman basically turned the story into a romance with this one. Plus, I don’t like that they end in the same place. I NEED CLOSURE! WHERE SHE WENT will always be my fav of hers, I think.
    Katie recently posted…KPOP Songs Currently on My PlaylistMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      That’s how I felt about the ending, but some people interpreted it differently. I just can’t about that last scene. I mean, couldn’t we at least get their whole meet up conversation. Oooh, you know what would have been awesome? Capping it with JUST ONE MORE DAY. But no. We get one more minute. *sighs*

  4. Brandy says:

    “Willem’s search and disconnection, the way he changes and questions his theories of life, I actually really liked. He is rather a bastard, but he’s starting to grow up somewhat, slowly and painfully.”

    THIS right here is why I liked the book as much as I did.

    I had not thought of the end the same way as you, but I get where you’re coming from. I as left feeling like both of them still have a lot of work to do and they may be able to do it together and have a relationship. Or not. It’s why I like that it ended where it did. Either is possible a year from that point, and the reader can think what they want.
    Brandy recently posted…Just One YearMy Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      I really liked Willem’s story, slow though it was. Had it been a standalone, I think I would have given this a 4, but as a companion, it’s pretty damn frustrating. I am torn.

  5. I’m not really a fan of Just One Year which is really disappointing because I was excited to see what happened to Willem and to see what would happen between Allyson (sp?) and Willem.

    I think my overall problem with it, was there wasn’t any progression in their overall story. It just seemed like an expanded novella that contained background story. It just seems to be like it’s only purpose was to explain what happened during the interim between when Willem disappears in Paris to when he’s reunited with Allyson. Don’t get me wrong, I found it interesting, but when I realized there wasn’t any progression in the overall story I felt cheated.
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  6. Heather says:

    I totally agree about the ending! It just seemed so implausible and unsatisfying. I loved the first book, and I’m so sad that this one left me feeling so disappointed. I think I’m just going to pretend that Just One Day was a stand-alone.

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