Bookanista Rec :: JUST ONE YEAR

Today’s Bookanista recommendation is
Just One Year by Gayle Forman

From GoodreadsWhen 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.

Don’t forget to check out what my fellow Bookanistas are up to:

Christine Fonseca is delighted by BY BLOOD by Tracy Banghart

Jessica Love is traveling with TIME AFTER TIME by Tamara Ireland Stone

Nikki Katz is wow’d by THE SPECTACULAR NOW by Tim Tharp

Kimberly Sabatini is reveling in THE MOON AND MORE by Sarah Dessen

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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!

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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!)

Book Rec: JUST ONE DAY

Happy Valentine’s Day!

In honor of the most romantic day of the year, I have a new favorite novel to share with you: Gayle Forman‘s latest,  Just One Day

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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)!

For me, Gayle Forman is one of those authors, someone 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 definitely 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 Allyson 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. It will presumably 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 am so looking forward to learning more about him, his apparently 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.

Check out what some other Bookanistas are recommending:

Jessica Love raves about THE REECE MALCOM LIST

Nikki Katz swoons over SCARLET

Stasia Ward Kehoe is ga-ga for GOING VINTAGE

♥ Now… Go enjoy Valentine’s Day with someone you love! ♥

Book in a day?

I started an amazing contemporary YA novel on Saturday evening. I read about sixty pages before heading out for dinner with friends. On Sunday morning I woke up early feeling not so great. I couldn’t fall back to sleep so I picked up the book, thinking I’d read a few pages before dozing off.

And then I proceeded to read it in its entirety, in one sitting.

I never do this… I have a husband and a child and two dogs, a house to keep clean, laundry to fold, meals to cook. Then there’s writing and revising and blogging and emails. I normally only find time to read fifty or so published pages in the course of a day. And that’s a good day.

But this book. I just couldn’t put it down. It was compelling and gorgeous and emotional and romantic and even at this early point in the year, I feel confident in claiming that this amazing story will be one of my very favorite 2013 releases. When I read the final page I just wanted more, which is both the best and worst readerly feeling (thank goodness there’s a companion novel coming next year!).

Credit to Brittney Tabel, one of our senior staff members(Image credit: Brittney Tabel)

I bet you’re wondering what book consumed me for a whole entire day… Well, I tweeted about it and I shared my love via Instagram, and I’ll be sharing a full Bookanista recommendation on Thursday, so until then, all you get is a title:

Just One Day

Tell me: Have you ever read a book in a day? What’s the last book you just couldn’t put down?

Y is for YA or Bust

Thursday night I was lucky enough to attend YA or Bust, featuring Gayle Forman (IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT), Nina LaCour (HOLD STILL and THE DISENCHANTMENTS), and Stephanie Perkins (ANNA & THE FRENCH KISS and LOLA & THE BOY NEXT DOOR) at Roosevelt High School in Seattle.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, then I don’t have to tell you how much I absolutely adore these authors. If you are new to my blog: I ABSOLUTELY ADORE THESE AUTHORS. Gayle Forman’s If I Stay was the first YA novel that made me think: I want to write a book like THAT. Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and Lola are two of the most perfectly executed YA romances I’ve encountered. And Nina LaCour’s The Disenchantments… Hands down the best book I’ve read this year.

On Thursday night I learned that not only are the three authors of the YA or Bust tour brilliant and talented, but they’re also funny and gracious and delightful, all of which probably goes without saying.

Nina LaCour talking about the research she did while writing THE DISENCHANTMENTS... literal road trips and lots of eighties girl band footage -- Awesome!

Gayle Forman sharing an excerpt from WHERE SHE WENT... I'm about as unemotional a person as they come, but damn it if I didn't have a near-moment while she read aloud from her novel.

A few pieces of takeaway advice shared by the ladies during the panel portion of the evening: Read like a writer; pay attention to your strong reactions (both good and bad), then break down what it was the author did to make you feel the way you felt. Take your time learning craft; knowing how to ice skate isn’t the same as knowing how to throw a Triple Axel — writing a novel is no different. Bird by Bird is the way to go. Understand your characters; get to know them by describing their living space, the things they carry, the way they look, the way they interact. And finally, pay attention to detail, especially during the researching/revising/editing/querying processes.

My good friends (and enthusiastic YA readers!) Kari, Theresa, and me, with Gayle Forman, Nina LaCour, and Stephanie Perkins.

I was thrilled to meet Gayle, Stephanie, and Nina, and I’m grateful to them for sharing their wisdom and experience with readers and writers and fans (and for signing my big ol’ stack of books!). If you’ve slacked on reading any of their novels, please RUN to your nearest bookstore or library and hunt them down. They will change the way you read, and they will change the way you write.

Tell me: What YA novel has changed the way YOU write?