Just One Day by Gayle Forman (Review)

Synopsis: Allyson Healey’s life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.
A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the “accidents” of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know.

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Cover: I find this cover to be super cute. I love distance between the two people which basically symbolized Allyson’s journey to find Willem along with herself.

My thoughts: This book begins with an eighteen year old Allyson Healey and her best friend, Melanie, on a backpacking trip across Europe before they head off to college. On the last day of their tour, Melanie and Allyson ditch their tour group to see a unique rendition of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Allyson, nearly regretting breaking the rules, easily ignores her good girl tendencies and becomes captivated by one of the actors in the outdoor play. On a train to England three days before her flight back to America, Allyson meets the intriguing and carefree actor, Willem, from the play whom she was interested in talking to. With easy going banter struck up between each other, shy Allyson becomes someone she has never been before, someone bold enough to come out of her shell she has put up around herself since she was a child. Their jointed passion for Shakespeare and discussion on their views on love and life entraps any reader as if both characters have known each other for a lifetime. Eventually Allyson, who finally becomes comfortable enough with someone to stand out, tells Willem that her tour never went to Paris. Thanks to his spontaneous behavior, he offers to take her to Paris for just one day. The usual “good girl” Allyson decides to take a leap of faith and says yes on the trip to France with a stranger she feels she knows as a friend.

On their trip full of laughs, discussions of Shakespeare’s plays, and meeting new people, Allyson feels invigorated. She has always been suppressed by her family’s high expectations and her best friend’s need for her to always remain timid. And with this simple trip, her entire view point on life changes because of Willem’s extraordinary way of living.

But all good things must come to an end. With a heartbreaking conclusion to the trip, she returns to America lost, missing her short lived bliss with Willem. This book takes you on a journey through Allyson’s self discovery in the aftermath of her spontaneity. With Willem’s memory lingering in her mind, she finds the courage to stand up for herself, make new friends who support her dreams, and become self reliant enough to make her own choices. 

With her new found determination, she sets out to find Willem once again to find out why their heart melting trip ended without closure. She sets her mind to figuring out how they got separated which eventually leaves the book off in a cliff hanger that had my mouth hanging open in surprise. 

There is so much to love about this incredibly written and well thought out novel. I love the fact that Allyson and Willem connect over Shakespeare which plays a large role in the twists and turns this story takes. I also loved Willem’s passion for travel and how he believes being in love is like a stain you can’t wash away. Even the kindness of the strangers Allyson meets over time was a very lovely thing to read since that never happens often today. The growth of the characters, even the little ones, was unlike any character growth I’ve read in a while. Every supporting character had a distinct role in forming Allyson into the person she has always been afraid to be. I really connected to her beliefs and emotions since she related to be in a great way. There was never a dull moment in this lovely story I couldn’t put down. The ending left me on edge for the second novel in Willem’s point of view to finally understand what happened at the end of their one day trip. I really do recommend this novel, especially to lovers of Anna and the French Kiss since this too is about finding yourself and falling in love. I also recommend it to anyone who loves Shakespeare, traveling, finding love in unlikely places, and the power of believing in yourself no matter what.

Rating: ★★★★★


One thought on “Just One Day by Gayle Forman (Review)

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