Just One Day
Author: Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day, #1
Length: 10.5 hours
Narrator: Kathleen McInerney
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Original Publication Date: 2013
Genre(s): Young adult, Contemporary, Romance
“We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.”
On a once-in-a-lifetime trip across Europe, Allyson feels entirely underwhelmed. A graduation present from her parents, the organized tour for teens is too…planned, and the only place Allyson actually wants to visit—beautiful Paris—winds up being skipped. But when she meets Willem, a travelling Dutch actor, her trip becomes a little more interesting. Disrupting both their plans, Willem and Allyson make a last-minute decision to visit Paris for one magical day. But when Allyson wakes up the next day in Paris alone, she spends the next year between wanting to forget and wanting to relive that one day.
Gayle Forman wowed me with If I Stay, but let me down with I Was Here. So I had no idea what to expect going into Just One Day, especially knowing it was yet another series (don’t even get me started on the If I Stay sequel). Lucky for me, the sequel (and the short installment #2.5) has already been written, which is good because with that ending, I need more.
Just One Day is told in first-person POV from Allyson’s perspective, and is broken up into 2 parts. The first part details the end of Allyson’s Teen Tour of Europe, the last stop being Stratford-upon-Avon, where she meets Willem. Their whirlwind day in Paris is, of course, the best part of the book. Part two is the aftermath: the year following that day with Willem. I didn’t think I’d enjoy this part of the book, but was surprised at how much I did. Part two mostly bounces back and forth between Allyson’s life at college and at home, both of which I related to immensely. The college part made me yearn to go back to school, and the home part made me glad that I’m in my twenties and not living at home anymore.
I really related to Allyson as a character. I understand being awkward and feeling left out. People often mistake me as being rude, when in actuality I’m just introverted and nervous. The only thing I didn’t like about Allyson was her lying—boy, did she lie a lot. I mean, with a mom like that, you have to lie, or you won’t live any sort of life. Trust me—I did it. But she went way too deep with her lies, and even lied to friends. But she does grow as a character, and that makes up for it all.
I also related to Allyson’s home life so much it hurt to read it. Her mom planned her life to a T. She was overprotective, overbearing, and wanted Allyson to be someone that she wasn’t. Way too relatable, in my case, so maybe that’s why I thought the emotions in this book were palpable. All the sadness and guilt and anger—I physically felt that. It was like a punch to the gut. So perhaps that relatability is why I enjoyed this book so much. Not to mention how well it served my wanderlust. Touring Europe would be a dream come true.
As for Willem, I wasn’t totally impressed. He was definitely mature and charming, but he was also pretty rude to Allyson on multiple occasions, never bothered to learn her name or get her contact info, and also was super creepy just randomly naming her LuLu. So while I really felt Allyson’s love and affection towards him, I wasn’t crazy about their “relationship,” or whatever it was.
So while this may not be the most romantic romance you’ll ever read, it is a cute story with enough swoon-worthy moments to make you sigh in jealousy. It’s also a great read to satisfy any wanderlust you may be feeling this summer, being stuck in your house while everyone you know on Facebook is travelling on vacation. And there’s so many questions left unanswered, you know I’ll be reading the sequel very soon.