Title: Just One Year by Gayle Forman
Published: October 10th, 2013 by Dutton
Genre: Contemporary romance
Age group: Young adult
Challenge(s): Finish the series
Grade rate: A+
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.
Once in a while a story comes along that is, without exaggeration, perfection. That story is Allyson and Willem’s. Thus I did something that I rarely do and it’s to write a review right after finishing a book. I usually wait a few days to digest what I read, ruminate in the meaning of this and that, come to terms with the outcome or lack thereof. Also, never in my life have I ever wanted to read the ending of the book so badly before. I had to practice extreme restraint for sure! (NOTE: If you haven’t read Just One Day, most of the review might make no sense to you)
Oh, Willem. We get to meet Willem in the first book, but briefly. For the record, even though I had the suspicion that he was a “player”, I never thought that he had just run off. While Just One Day is the story of Allyson and her growth as an individual, Just One Year is all about Willem.
It is amazing how one day in the lives of two individuals changed them both so completely. Willem has many problems and he reacts to anything that he doesn’t want to face by running away from it. He always looks for the easy way out and not necessarily by facing anything head on. He went through a big personal lost and had other family issues. There is a lot of traveling, due to his ‘running away’ syndrome. His story is heartbreaking in a different way that Allyson’s was.
The most amazing and probably the most important part is that Willem never forgets Allyson. She is ever present in his life and he shares their story with the important people in his life. He looks for her and came close a couple of times. That is not to say that he was celibate, because he wasn’t, but he does slow down and thinks things with more clarity.
We get to meet other people in Willem’s life. His mother, Saba, and his best friend. He makes and loses friends very easily, but manages to keep a few good ones. I’m glad that he found someone to tell him how it is, and that won’t allow him to keep running away from life.
I wasn’t expecting the story to start from the very beginning and it tore me apart. As I kept getting closer to the ending and the pages kept dwelling I came to the realization that the moment (you know what I mean if you read Just One Day) was almost there and there weren’t enough pages left. I had a moment of panic, what happens after Willem opens the door? Are there enough words left?
Gayle Forman: please hear the pleas of your readers (I’m talking for everyone here, I hope you don’t mind) and give us a bit more. I’m not asking for a whole book or even a novella, but an epilogue or a short story, SOMETHING would be better than nothing, because I NEED to know.
The writing, as always, is so good. It’s insightful, delightful, and beautiful. The plot is not all that dissimilar from Allyson’s story. Of course, his problems are different and the way he deals with them it’s too.
I will read anything that Gayle Forman writes. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. Just One Day / Just One Year is an amazing story of two strangers that have such an impact in each other’s lives in the very short time that they knew each other. Would they had stayed together if they things would have played differently? Probably not. I think that this “accident” happened for a reason and it allowed both Allyson and Willem to grow, to appreciate themselves and each other and the magic that One Day created in their lives.
Some quotes for you:
“There’s a difference between losing something you knew you had and losing something you discovered you had. One is a disappointment. The other feels like losing a piece of yourself.”
“Sometimes fate or life or whatever you want to call it, leaves a door a little open and you walk through it. But sometimes it locks the door and you have to find the key, or pick the lock, or knock the damn thing down. And sometimes, it doesn’t even show you the door, and you have to build it yourself. But if you keep waiting for the doors to be opened for you... I think you’ll have a hard time finding single happiness, let alone that double portion.”
“I miss my father. I miss my grandfather. I miss my home. And I miss my mother. But the thing is, for almost three years, I managed not to miss any of them. And then I spent that one day with that one girl. One day ... It was like she gave me her whole self, and somehow as a result, I gave her more of myself than I even realized there was to give. But then she was gone. And only after I'd been filled up by her, by that day, did I understand how empty I really was.”
About the cover: Beautiful :) I know this is now what Willem really looks like, but I like the playfulness and the lightness of the couple.