Monday, 25 March 2013

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

About the book
Just One Day is the first book in a series by Gayle Forman. It was published by Random House on 10th January and the book is 384 pages long.

Synopsis (Taken from
When 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.

What I thought
I have a huge thing about books set in Paris, mainly because I have never been myself and I am dying to go. So, when I heard about this book, I knew it was one I had to read.

Best friends Allyson and Melanie have just graduated high school and are on a big tour of Europe. While in the UK, waiting to see Hamlet in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the girls hear about Guerrilla Will, who are putting on an alternative production of Twelfth Night. With the help of a seriously hot actor, the girls ditch the real play and rebel by going off to see something different. Afterwards, the guy playing Sebastian, Willem begins talking to the girls and getting to know more about them. I really enjoyed the beginning of Just One Day. Gayle Forman gives a good introduction to the main characters and one that is exciting and different.

What I loved about Allyson was how American she is. I know that sounds like a really strange reason but as the beginning of the book is England and then Paris. The Americanisms come out thick and fast, with Forman reminding us as readers that Allyson is far away from home, experiencing completely different cultures from what she is used to. Then there is also the fact that Allyson is a quiet and reserved kind of girl. She isn’t loud and outgoing or very brave for that matter either. However, once she meets Willem, and discusses her disappointment of not being able to visit Paris, everything changes. Willem brings out something daring in Allyson, partly by giving her a nickname and helping her to realise she can be whoever she wants to be. It doesn’t take long for Allyson to take a massive risk and head off to Paris for a day with Willem, leaving her best friend in London.

Now, although I loved the excitement of running away to Paris, which is something I would have easily done a couple of years ago, I did have problems with it too. Melanie, the best friend, barely tries to talk Allyson out of it. Yes, she says it could be dangerous because she doesn’t know Willem but she is far from convincing and she doesn’t try very hard to stress what kind of situation Allyson could be putting herself into. If it were me, I would have probably run off to Paris without anyone knowing, so no one could say these things to me but that is not the case here. I did run off to Canada and so many of my friends were very worried about what I was doing and where I was staying and talked to me about it for a long time. Even now, after doing some pretty crazy things myself, I would still seriously talk to a friend (especially a best friend) about running off with a stranger.

That aside, Allyson and Willem go on an adventure to Paris. Willem was charming, sweet and very mysterious. Once in Paris, it quickly becomes apparent that he is a womaniser, other girls knowingly checking him out and some other girls making it clear who they have once been to him. However, the chemistry between Allyson and Willem was fantastic and you could feel it immediately after they met. Theirs was definitely a whirlwind romance, which ends in many, many tears after Allyson finds Willem gone the next morning leaving her stranded in Paris.

I actually really loved the portion of the book set in Paris but it was no way near enough for me. I wanted more time, more sights seen, more magical moments but unfortunately, Allyson heads back to London and then home again to start college. I did feel sorry for Allyson, being heartbroken and a mess but I didn’t enjoy the time spent with her at college. Yes, it was sad to see her in such a state over one thing that happened to her, and it was interesting to see her trying to cope with life afterwards but I just wanted more of Paris. I feel as though the one day spent there could have been drawn out more to make the whole thing much more important.

It wasn’t until Allyson begins to sort her life out and decides to head back to Paris that I started to enjoy this book again. The whole middle section was just too boring and bland for me and I hated to see Allyson moping about all of the time. Once she had a bit more to her, a bit more bravery and determination, I was much more interested in what was going on. I guess I thought that with the title, the book would be spent over the course of one day in Paris but instead, it shows the importance of the one day and how just one day can affect someone so much.

Just One Day was a mixed experience for me. I wanted to love it but I couldn’t. 

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