YA Book Club :: JUST ONE DAY

{YA Book Club is the brainchild of writer/blogger Tracey Neithercott.
For guidelines and additional info, click the image above.}

March’s YA Book Club selection is Gayle Forman‘s latest novel Just One Day. I posted a glowing review of the story back in February and upon rereading that post, I noticed two things: One, my feelings regarding this story haven’t changed. And two, I stand by my declaration that Just One Day will be one of my very favorite 2013 releases.

I have family in town this week and I am on a whale-watching boat in the Monterey Bay right this very second (hopefully not completely seasick), so I am going to cheat and repost my Febraury review. My apologies if you’ve already read it. If you haven’t… Enjoy!


From GoodreadsWhen 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. Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon (October, 2013)!

Gayle Forman is one of those authors, one who is just so awesome she’s taken on a bit of a celebrity status in my head. She’s smart and generous in sharing her wisdom (as evident in blog posts like this one), and she’s thoughtful and classy (even when she’s calling people out for being assholes, like in this post). I was lucky enough to hear her speak at an event last year, and I was blown away by how funny and bright and authentic she was. I’ve come to look up to her both as a writer and a person, and If I Stay and Where She Went are two of my very favorite contemporaries. So, of course I terrified to read her latest release. I mean… What if I was a disappointed?

Thankfully, I was not.

If I had to describe Just One Day in just one word, that word would be RICH. It is a story that is rich in far-reaching themes (finding your identity, lost love, coming of age, making a mark; there are mentions of Shakespeare throughout the novel). It is a story that is rich in lusciously-described settings (Paris, Mexico, Amsterdam, London, among others). And it is a story that is rich in colorful, dynamic characters (I adored Dee most). Every sentence, every page, every chapter of Just One Day made me think and wonder and imagine and  feel, which is the very best kind of reading experience.

I absolutely loved this book.

I think that’s mostly because I got the main character, Allyson. I understood her need to please, empathized with her initial absence of identity, felt the gaping hole she suffered when things with Willem went to hell. When I was eighteen, I was a lot like Allyson — that perfection-seeking girl with a lack of confidence and very little autonomy. That’s why it was so compelling to watch her grow into her personality and become self-reliant, a full, well-rounded person. That’s why I was rooting for her even when she was at her lowest and, frankly, sort of hard to like. By the time I reached the final page of her story, I wanted to be Allyson’s friend. I wanted to travel Europe with her!

Now. Let’s talk about Willem. I want to read his story, Just One Year, like, RIGHT NOW. Just One Day ends in a pretty staggering cliffhanger. The story will continue on in Willem’s narration coming this October (*sigh*), and I cannot wait to hear his side of the story. As of now, I know him only through Allyson’s romanced eyes. In Paris, he is charming and fun and sexy and impulsive, but I get the overwhelming sense that there is much more to Willem than the persona he presented to Allyson. I didn’t love his apparent love ’em and leave ’em ways, but I think we’re going to learn that there’s a very real and reasonable explanation for his behavior. I am so looking forward to learning more about him, his presumably complicated past, his feelings concerning LuLu, and what exactly happened on that fateful morning in Paris.

Fans of contemporary YA, fans of romance, fans of beautiful writing, fans of books: please, pLeAsE, PLEASE go buy Just One Day. It is a gorgeous, emotional, whirlwind of a read, and you will love every minute of it.

Tell Me: Have you read Just One Day? How do you think it measures up to Gayle Forman’s other novels?

(Don’t forget to drop by Tracey’s blog to see what other YA Book Club participants thought of Just One Day!)


16 thoughts on “YA Book Club :: JUST ONE DAY

  1. Jennifer Pickrell says:

    The setting descriptions – yes, yes, yes! The idea of getting on a plane terrifies me, but this book made me actually consider it b/c how else could I see all these beautiful places?

    Enjoy your whale watching!

  2. Elodie says:

    First of all, whale watching? WOW!!! 😀 😀 😀 Can´t wait to see some pictures! Hope you´re having fun!

    So now that I´ve read JUST ONE DAY, I have to say I agree with you on many points. Maybe it´s the way I could relate to Allyson…or Paris. All I now is I cannot wait to read Willem´s side of the story…

    • katyupperman says:

      I can’t wait for Willem’s story either, Elodie. I’m looking forward to hearing his side, and to finding out what made him the way he his… Such a complex character!

  3. Tracey Neithercott (@T_Neithercott) says:

    I felt the same way about Allyson. It was just so easy for me to connect with her. I was also the girl who always did the right thing, followed the rules, tried to be perfect. And only through traveling and having these experiences I never imagined did I fully come into my own. I was rooting for Allyson from page 1, though it was more for her to discover herself and less of her to discover Willem. I think that’s where the book really succeeds, in creating this story rich in atmosphere and compelling characters through which Allyson can find herself.

    • katyupperman says:

      “I think that’s where the book really succeeds, in creating this story rich in atmosphere and compelling characters through which Allyson can find herself.” <— Totally agree, Tracey. I loved how each supporting character impacted Allyson and her journey in a different way. I know you weren't a huge Willem fan (and I questioned a lot of his behavior too), but I'm hoping his version of the story will help us all to look at him in a more positive light. 🙂

  4. Stephanie Allen says:

    Speaking of Shakespeare (since I somehow have yet to mention him today), I need to get my hands on a copy of Twelfth Night. I liked the Shakespeare connections throughout the book, but I feel like I would appreciate them more if I’ve actually read the play we’re seeing all these connections to.

    • katyupperman says:

      I’ve never read THE TWELTH NIGHT either, Steph, but because of JUST ONE DAY, I’d really like to. Maybe we should both read it and compare notes. 🙂

  5. Krispy says:

    I remember this review and I also read JUST ONE DAY in February. I still agree with you. The highlight was Allyson’s journey because I knew exactly how she felt – that good girl who is finally starting to want things for herself instead of conforming to the expectations of others. I too can’t wait to read Willem’s side of the story!

    • katyupperman says:

      I think Willem’s story is going to be intense. While I love Allyson’s story for everything it is, I think Willem’s version is going to make or break these books for me. While he’s most definitely imperfect, I want believable, understandable reasons for why he has behaved the way he has. I want strong Willem motivations even more than I want a sweeping romantic ending!

      Loved your write-up today. 🙂

  6. Jessica Love (@_JessicaLove) says:

    I know we are totally on the same page on this one. 🙂 And I am also DYING to hear Willem’s side of the story. I can bet he had as much change happen in his year as Allyson did, and I really can’t wait to see where things go with this story. I really love how Gayle Forman has made a habit of telling both sites of the story, but in different books. It adds such a cool element to her stories!

    • katyupperman says:

      I love reading both sides of the story too, Jess. I was terrified to read WHERE SHE WENT because I loved IF I STAY so much, but Gayle Forman pulled it off brilliantly and now I have full faith that Willem’s story will be amazing. I can’t wait to read it!

  7. Liz Parker (@LizParkerWrites) says:

    While I didn’t love this book as so many people have, I’m definitely glad I read it. It was good on so many levels even if it wasn’t my favorite read of the year. I felt stretched reading it. I felt like I was growing with Allyson, and I can say I loved that. Part of me wonders how I would feel if I had read this when I wasn’t in a rough patch. I think my current circumstances have actually helped me appreciate it more, but I’m not sure. Anyway, great review. 🙂 And you rock, too.

    • katyupperman says:

      Haha… Thanks, lady!

      I’m glad you liked JUST ONE DAY, and I totally get what you’re saying about our perspectives impacting the way we feel about a story on a given day. I don’t think I would have related to this story so much if I had read it as a teenager (though I’m sure I still would have liked it). Having had my adult experiences helped me relate more to the growth and change Allyson experienced.

      Hope you have some fun plans for the coming weekend. How’s the writing coming?

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