From Goodreads – When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents that happen—and the happiness we can find when the two intersect.
(My Bookanista recommendation of Gayle Forman’s Just One Day is HERE.)
Oh, how I have anticipated this novel! Since I read the final pages of Just One Day way back in February, I’ve wondered and worried about the fate of Allyson and Willem. I’ve also wondered and worried about how Just One Year would measure up to its predecessor. I empathize with Allyson so much, and reading her story was an incredible experience. How could Willem “The Deserter” De Ruiter possibly compete in the narration department? (Incidentally, these were the very same concern I had before reading If I Stay‘s companion story, Where She Went.) Turns out all my agonizing has been for nothing. Gayle Forman writes consistently amazing duet novels, and I will never doubt her brilliance again.
There are so many things to love about Just One Year. Willem is everything I adore in a male character all rolled into one. He’s damaged, sensitive, passionate, searching, adventurous — perfectly imperfect. Despite knowing Lulu (Allyson) for just one day, he’s found the best in her and he latches on (in a totally non-creepy way). Even after Lulu’s long gone, that “stain” on Willem’s heart won’t rub off, and he eventually finds the courage to face his long-standing demons.
Second only to Willem’s amazingness are Just One Year‘s exotic locales. This novel is a whirlwind journey with stops in Paris, Amsterdam, Cancun, and Mumbai. To be completely honest, with the exception of Paris, I’ve never had much desire to visit any of the cities listed above, but through Willem’s eyes, they felt colorful and exciting and accessible. Just One Year has given this homebody an incredible case of wanderlust. Seriously, the varying cultures as described in Gayle Forman’s beautiful, evocative prose become supporting characters in Willem’s story. I liked them almost as much as Broodje and Kate!
I could spend all day fangirling over Just One Year. It’s one of my favorite reads of 2013, and Gayle Forman is most definitely one of my favorite contemporary authors. But instead of continuing to rave, I’ll close with a quote that I hope will encourage you to pick up Just One Year as soon as possible…
By that point, it’ll have been more than year since I met Lulu. Any sane person would say it’s too late. It already felt too late that first day, when I woke up in the hospital. But even so, I’ve kept looking. I’m still looking.
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