Just One Day
Gayle Forman takes her protagonist on a year-long, unexpected journey of discovery in JUST ONE DAY, the first in a two-part series about what happens when two people meet entirely by accident.
Who says literature can't change your life? Certainly Allyson wouldn't have thought so, until, on a summer tour through Europe the summer after high school graduation, she abandons the tour group on a whim and instead attends a magical, interactive performance of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, perfomed by an underground theatre troupe called Guerrilla Will. There she seems to make a connection with a handsome young Dutch actor named Willem, who charms her and makes her feel like another person entirely --- like a lovely, mysterious stranger named Lulu (the name he gives to her).
"JUST ONE DAY offers readers plenty to chew on --- a truly inspiring story of self-discovery, a romantic European setting and a love story that's also a genuine mystery."
Allyson, a straight-A student who's heading for a prestigious Boston-area college and from there to medical school (a path she's been on since she was a preteen) would never decide to go to Paris
with a complete stranger on the spur of the moment. But Lulu might --- and does, as she, charmed by the romantic notion of her new alter-ego, accompanies Willem on the Chunnel train for her last day in Europe before returning to America and to her mundane life as Allyson.
Willem and Allyson spend a wondrous, memorable, eventful day in Paris, during which she begins to feel a true connection to this young man she hardly knows. She falls in love with the City of Lights...and maybe more than a little with Willem, too. But when she wakes up in Paris the next morning, alone without a trace of Willem, she flees from memories of their perfect day, crestfallen that the connection she perceived may have been nothing more than an illusion.
Once Allyson starts college, however, she finds that she can't stop thinking about Willem --- and, just as importantly, about the adventurous, flirtatious, courageous girl she was when she was with him. She grows increasingly determined to find Willem --- but it's possible that the person she'll find will be someone else entirely.
JUST ONE DAY offers readers plenty to chew on --- a truly inspiring story of self-discovery, a romantic European setting and a love story that's also a genuine mystery. Forman's previous books include the paired novels, IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT, told from the point of view of two different participants in a relationship. JUST ONE DAY and its successor, JUST ONE YEAR (due to be published later in 2013) do the same thing, but with a more romantic and, we can hope, upbeat tone, as we learn, finally, what happened to Willem during Allyson's odyssey.
Forman plays around with readers' expectations in JUST ONE DAY. Initially, readers, like Allyson herself, are primarily concerned with the mystery of what happened to Willem with hopes for a
traditionally happy romantic ending. Somewhere along the way, though, readers will start to care just as much for Allyson as for her romantic prospects. Although readers will have to wait for JUST ONE YEAR to figure out if Allyson and Willem's story will end like one of Shakespeare's comedies, JUST ONE DAY focuses on Allyson's journey toward her own personal happy ending.
Reviewed by Norah Piehl on December 19, 2012