Just One Day
by Gayle Forman
January 8, 2013
Source: Around the World ARC Tours
A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay
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.
Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon! (Goodreads Summary.
* Guys, I love to add quotes and excerpts. Especially when they speak to me like Forman’s did in Just One Day.
But please know going in that this is an ARC review.
Quotes and excerpts have been taken from an unfinished copy and therefore may change before the final print*
What if Shakespeare had it wrong?
My Take On It
Before I get started on this review, let me first say that when I began this blog, nearly one year ago, I primarily read paranormal/ supernatural and dystopian YA. I had read a little bit of contemporary YA, but for the most part I skipped it. I thought that someone like me, who had left her teenage years behind a long time ago, was going to have a hard time relating to a contemporary realistic YA book. I think the first YA book I read that made me feel differently was John Green’s An Abundance of Katherine’s. Then I read Melina Marchetta’s Saving Francesca and soon after Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss. Well, needless to say, I WAS DEAD WRONG in my views of Contemporary YA. Not only can I relate, but I have come to LOVE it. In fact, most of the books I have read over the last year that have meant so much to me (The Sky is Everywhere, Small Damages,Wanderlove, Saving June) fall into this genre.
In addition, I was introduced to the New Adult genre this year, an offshoot of YA that focuses on the important time when a young adult has finished high school and is moving into the adult world. I love New Adult because it focuses on a time of self discovery in a young person’s life. A time of new freedom and independence which can be exciting but also scary. It’s a time in my life that holds some of my fondest memories.
Just One Day is a book that encompasses all the best qualities of both YA and New Adult fiction. It is a book that focuses on themes like self discovery and personal identity. It’s a book that looks at changing relationships between parents and daughters as well as between close friends. Just One Day is a book that examines college life and traveling abroad. And it is also a book that looks at first love, love at first sight, connections and bonds formed over a short period of time, and the concept of destiny and fate. Just One Day is a book about choices and a book about trust. To me it is the quintessential coming of age story, written as only Gayle Forman could write it. I thought If I Stay was an incredible book, and I loved the sequel Where She Went even more. Just One Day tops them both. Just when I thought I couldn’t be more amazed by this talented author, she raises the bar yet again.
As Just One Day opens, following an awesome and very relevant excerpt from Shakespeare’s comedy, As You Like It , we are introduced to Allyson, a recent high school graduate who is wrapping up a trip to Europe with her best friend Melanie and the other members of the Teens Tour! travel group. Allyson is tired, ready to go home and start the next phase of her life: college and then med school. She grudgingly admits to herself that this Trip of a Lifetime has, in reality, been a bust. Nothing has lived up to her expectations so far and she’s ready to call it a day. While waiting in line to attend The Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Hamlet, Allyson meets a tall, lanky boy with amazing dark eyes passing out fliers for a production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, staged by a company known as Guerrilla Shakespeare which is to be held later that evening. After telling her that “the night is too beautiful for tragedy,” Allyson talks Melanie into ditching Hamlet and attending Twelfth Night instead.
As the hot day softens into twilight and I’m sucked deep into the illusory world of Ilyria, I feel I’ve entered some weird otherworldly space, where anything can happen, where identities can be swapped like shoes. Where those thought dead are alive again. Where everyone gets their happy-ever-afters. I recognize it’s kind of corny, but the air is soft and warm, and the trees are lush and full, and the crickets are singing, and it seems like, for once, maybe it can happen.
The experience sets in motion a chain of events Allyson could never have imagined. The next day, aboard a train bound for London, the last leg of her journey home, Allyson again meets the striking actor from the night before. An instant connection is made between she and Willem, a twenty year old Dutch native who is getting ready to return home himself after two years of living on the road. When Allyson mentions that she is disappointed to have never visited Paris on this trip, Willem suggests she do it. Journey to Paris, with him, for just one day. And although she barely knows him, and although it’s is extremely out of character, Allyson takes a deep breath and agrees.
What follows is a day and night that Allyson will never forget. So a question for you: do you believe in love at first sight? I’m on the fence about that one. But what I DO believe in is feeling a spark, a chemistry, an instant connection with someone. I know because it has happened to me. And that is exactly what happens with Allyson and Willem. Allyson opens up to Willem, in ways she could never open to anyone else, not even her best friend. Isn’t it sometimes easier to confide in someone you don’t know very well, because they are less likely to judge? Allyson finds herself admitting to Willem that she doesn’t want to go to med school, that’s her parent’s dream, not hers. She admits to feeling let down by this trip, and feeling hesitant about starting college. She admits to not wanting to disappoint others, and that most of her decisions stem from this fear. They talk about travel. They talk a little about family. They talk about time and fate and karma. And they talk about love.
“Have you ever fallen in love?”
“No,” I reply. “I’ve never been in love.”
(…) “That’s not what I asked,” Willem says. “I asked if you have ever fallen in love.”
The playfulness in his voice is like like an itch I just can’t scratch. I look at him, wondering if he always parses semantics like this.
Willem puts down his fork and knife. “This is falling in love.” With his finger he swipes a bit of the Nutella from inside his crepe and puts a dollop on the inside of my wrist. It is hot and oozy and starts to melt against my sticky skin, but before it has the chance to slither away, Willem licks his thumb and wipes the smear of Nutella off and pops it into his mouth. It all happens so fast, like a lizard zapping a fly.
“This is being in love.” And here he takes my other wrist, the one with my watch on it, and moves the watchband around until he sees what he’s looking for. Once again, he licks his thumb. Only this time, he rubs it against my birthmark, hard, as if trying to scrub it off.
“It’s something that never comes off, no matter how much you might want it to.”
“You’re comparing love to a stain?”
He leans so far back in his seat that the front legs of his chair scrape off the floor. He looks very satisfied, with the crepe or with himself, I’m not sure.
(…)”How many languages have you been stained in?” I ask.
He licks his thumb again and reaches across the table for my wrist, where he missed the tiniest smudge of Nutella. This time he wipes it- me- clean. “None. It always comes off.”
Guys, this is one of the most beautiful “falling in love” books I have ever read. EVER. It is poignant. It is emotional. It is FULL OF AMAZING SWOON.
When he finally kisses my mouth, everything goes oddly quiet, like the moment of silence between lightening and thunder. One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Four Mississippi. Five Mississippi.
We kiss again. The next kiss is the kind that breaks open the sky. It steals my breath and gives it back. It shows me that every other kiss I’ve had in my life has been wrong.
So, you have read the above summary and you know that this is only the beginning of the story. After an amazing day and night together, Allyson wakes up alone. Willem is gone without a goodbye. The carefree Allyson, who had slipped into an alter ego that Willem named Lulu (after silent film star Louise Brooks who Allyson reminds him of,) is instantly thrown into a tailspin and all the former self doubt and questions rush back in. Allyson, lost and distraught, slinks back to America with her tail tucked between her legs.
I knew going into Just One Day that there would be moments of joy and wonder (it’s Gayle Forman, after all) and moments of utter heartbreak (again, it’s Gayle Forman.) And there is. Allyson returns home, enters college and reverts back to her old life. Except stepping back into the role of dutiful daughter and friend isn’t as easy as she expected. Meeting Willem, becoming Lulu, even for just one day, has irrevocably changed her, and there is no going back.
At this point in the story the pace slows down as Allyson, in the grips of a deep depression, muddles through her days and nights at college. Yes, it is a little Bella Swan/New Moon-ish in feel. Except that Allyson isn’t depressed just because she lost a boy. Allyson lost so much more that day in Paris. She lost an identity. She lost the chance to become the person she inwardly longs to be. And that is what makes this book so compelling. Allyson’s struggle to find herself, to stand up to all the self doubt and fear that she feels inside, and to challenge herself to become the person she wants to be.
I have a full life. How can I be this empty? Because of one day? Because of one guy?
When Allyson reaches a turning point, and with the help of some new found friends (D’Angelo, you ROCK) she realizes that the only way she is ever going to be able to move on is to go back to Paris to try and discover some answers: What really happened to Willem? Was what she experienced over the course of that day one sided, or did Willem feel it too? The remainder of the story is Allyson readying herself both physically and mentally for her return to Paris. And as Allyson finally begins to let people in, she rediscovers hope and trust.
I was absolutely fist pumping and cheering Allyson on as she made that return trip to Paris. You guys, I was so swept up in this story, I felt like I was living it through Allyson’s eyes. I don’t know how she does it but Gayle Forman allowed me, a married mom of two, to feel personally connectedto this story in so many ways. There is magic, not the kind found in paranormal or supernatural books, but REAL, LIFE MAGIC written into Just One Day. Just One Day is a book that will lift you up, make you laugh and smile, and break your heart in the next instance. It will take you on a journey, just as Allyson journey’s to find Willem and, ultimately, herself. It is powerful and it is authentic. It may be just an every day story, something ordinary that could happen to anyone, but it is made extraordinary by the talented story telling of Gayle Forman. In my opinion, Just One Dayepitomizes all the best things about Young Adult and New Adult contemporary literature. I wish that I could have read a book like this when I was just starting out. But honestly, I think that the themes and messages found in this book are lessons that anyone, young or old, will easily relate to.
Guys, trust me. This book is not to be missed. I read a touring ARC that I had to mail after one week. It was a busy week because I had copious amounts of notes, quotes and excerpts marked that I had to jot down before sending it on. Needless to say, I have already pre-ordered a copy for myself because this is a book I will definitely read again and again. Especially as we near Fall of 2013, when the story continues through Willem’s point of view, entitled Just One Year. I am already FULL of speculations as to what his story is will be:)
Believe me when I say that you are going to want to read this book. And then come back and let me know what you think so we can discuss it in all it’s blazing glory, okay? Please? Thanks:)
5/5 Stars- This one gets all my stars:)
They are all shining examples of unforgettable secondary characters in fiction (or in Duckie’s case, film.) If you are a reader of this blog than my love of secondary characters is WELL documented. Some of my closest bloggy friends often tease me about how I have fallen, yet again, for another secondary character. In fact, I often find myself falling harder for the secondary, supporting characters than the main characters. Does this happen to you too? It would appear that I am not alone in my feelings. Do a search on secondary characters and you will find a ton of articles and lists written by people just like me, people who can’t get enough of the supporting characters found in fiction. Here is a link to a post entitled “When Secondary Characters Attack.” I even found a Secondary Character Blog Hop beginning this month for people like me! So, it seems I am in good company.
First a few facts. A secondary, supporting or minor character in fiction and literature can be defined in a number of ways. But most source’s agree that they are written to complement the major characters and help move the plot events forward. A supporting character is meant to enhance the story and add depth and dimension to the plot or the main character(s). And I have found that most of my favorite secondary characters also add an element of comic relief. Give me a book with humor over dull and dry any day. Author Katie McGarry (Pushing the Limits and Dare You To) admits to sometimes enjoying the writing of secondary characters more than her main characters:
Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of love for my hero and heroine, but sometimes I come across a secondary character who steals my heart or just makes me laugh.
Yes! My sentiments exactly. Furthermore, what I have discovered is that the books that I enjoy, especially the books that I REALLY, REALLY love and connect with, almost always feature strong secondary characters. And yes, sometimes they do overshadow my love for even the book’s main characters (which Rachel Burkot, assistant editor for Harlequin’s Romantic Suspense line, termed the “Epic Secondary Character Eclipse Phenomena.”)
Loving secondaries as much as I do has really made me try to think about them more critically. And I’ve found that most of my favorite secondaries can be categorized into one of four groups: the sidekick character; the quirky/ eccentric character; the mysterious and/ or charismatic character and the villain or antihero character. And I have favorite secondaries that fall into each of these groups.
The sidekick is the classic supporting character: think Dr. Watson to Sherlock Holmes or Samwise Gamshee to Frodo Baggins. The term sidekick makes me feel very action/ adventure-y, Han Solo to Luke Skywalker, for example, but doesn’t necessarily have to be. Sidekicks can be full of dry, sarcastic humor in addition to being supportive, brave, wise, and, very often, self sacrificing.
Favorite secondary sidekick characters:
- Kenji Kishimoto (Shatter Me and Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi)
- Carswell Thorne and Iko (Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer)
- Finnick O’Dair (Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins)
- Roar (Under the Never Sky, Liv and Roar and Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi)
- Benebic “the Beast” Waroch (Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph by R. L. LaFevers)
- Zuzanna (Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor)
- Kim (If I Stay by Gayle Foreman)
- Hassan Harbish (An Abundance of Katherines by John Green)
- Cokie Coquard (Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys)
- Dove and Corr (The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater)
The quirky/ eccentric character is almost always humorous in some way. They are also often artsy or odd. Sometimes they are seen as an outcast or a misfit, like our friend Duckie Dale above or the eccentric Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland.
Favorite quirky eccentric secondary characters:
- Uncle Big and Sara (The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson)
- D’Angelo (Dee) (Just One Day by Gayle Forman)
- Calla (The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater)
- Malachi Wolfe (Bloodlines, The Golden Lily and The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead)
- Grimalkin and Ironhorse (The Iron Fey and The Call of the Forgotten Series by Julie Kagawa)
- Clive the Cat (Wallbanger by Alice Clayton)
The mysterious character is just what the terms imply. He or she may be benevolent or malevolent and there is an element of the unknown that always keeps the reader guessing. A classic example would be Boo Radley from To Kill a Mockingbird.
Favorite secondary mysterious characters:
- Phen and Angela (Unearthly, Hallowed, Radiant, Boundless by Cynthia Hand)
- Ronan (The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater)
- Tool (Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi)
- Orma (Seraphina by Rachel Hartman)
- Jaguar (The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepard)
- Yolande (Sunshine by Robin McKinley)
- Brimstone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor)
- Magnus Bane (The Mortal Instruments Series and The Infernal Devices Series by Cassandra Clare)
- Kaleb (Hourglass and Timepiece by Myra McEntire)
- Sybella (Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph by R.L. LaFevers)
- Ridley (Beautiful Creatures Series by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl)
- Santangelo (Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta)
- Cosme (Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson)
- Barron Sharpe (White Cat, Red Glove and Black Heart by Holly Black)
- Gargarin (Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta)
- Thomas McKee and Jimmy Hailler (Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta)
- Cole St. Clair (Linger and Forever by Maggie Stiefvater)
And finally, the villain or antihero. This is the bad guy (or girl) that you love to hate. Or it is the character that has always been presented as the villain, having no heroic qualities, but in the end turns out to be more redeemable than expected. Professor Snape in the Harry Potter books is who I think of when I think antihero.
Favorite secondary villain/ antiheroes:
- Froi (Finnikin of the Rock, Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta)
- DeMalo (Blood Red Road and Rebel Heart by Moira Young)
- Samjeeza (Unearthly, Hallowed, and Boundless by Cynthia Hand)
- Willie Woodley (Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys)
- Jackel (The Immortal Rules and The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa)
You can probably see how many secondary characters fall into more than just one of these categories. And the ones that fall into all of them? Well, those are your SHOW STEALERS.
There are several secondaries that I have already listed who I would consider a show stealer. But if I had to choose just one? That’s actually easy:
- Tiny Cooper (Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green)
(That book should have been called Tiny Cooper, Tiny Cooper.)
And I have to give a shout out to a few recent characters I have met that have grabbed my attention in a BIG way. Be on the look out for these secondaries in the coming months:
- Toby (The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider)
- Sturmhond (Siege and Storm by Leah Bardugo)
- Ringer (The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey)
One thing I liked about putting this post together was seeing all the connections. Here’s one: a handful of the secondaries listed above have gone on to play larger roles or become the ‘star’ of their own book. This, of course makes me VERY HAPPY:)
- Froi (main character of Froi of the Exiles and Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marcehtta)
- Thomas McKee (main character of The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta)
- Kaleb (main character of Timepeice by Myra McEntire)
- Magnus Bane (main character of The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare)
- Sybella and Beast (main characters of Dark Triumph by R. L. LaFevers)
- Ronan (larger role in The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater)
- DeMalo (larger role in Rebel Heart by Moira Young)
- Phaedra (larger role in Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta)
- Cole St. Clair (larger role in Forever by Maggie Stiefvater)
Something else that is evident: John Green and Melina Marchetta ROCK at crafting amazing secondary characters.
Green excels at writing quirky, often adorably nerdy, always funny, charismatic, show stealing sidekicks like Hassan Harbish from An Abundance of Katherines, Radar and Ben from Paper Towns, the Colonel from Looking for Alaska and, of course, the indomitable Tiny Cooper from Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
Melina Marchetta is surely the queen of creating unforgettable characters all around. And her secondaries hold just as much weight as her primary characters. Multi-layered, fully fleshed, mysterious and magnetic characters like Froi, Quintana, Trevanion, Tesadora, Phaedra, Lirah, Gargarin and Lucian from The Lumatere Chronicles. And Thomas McKee, Tara Finke, and Jimmy Hailler from Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son. Lastly, Santangelo from Jellicoe Road.
Another interesting factoid, when you break down my list of favorite secondaries by gender:
- 34 are males
- 15 are females
(Hmmm…that might be a topic for another post as well:)
3b. Cross Creek by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Cross Creek, Florida
I had to come back and add this book in–I can’t believe I forgot it! Like Eudora Welty’s Mississippi books–Cross Creek is the picture of what my mom always calls The Old Florida. Rawlings was a northern transplant who moved to central Florida, bought a house and an orange grove, and fell in love with the land and the people. It’s also the only book on my list that is a memoir of sorts. It reads like a collection of short stories and my favorite is the one about the neighbors pig that Kinnan shot and had for dinner because it wouldn’t stop eating her ruffly-edged petunias:)
4. The Hourglass Series by Myra McEntire
Ivy Springs, Tennessee
The Hourglass Series, Hourglass, Timepiece and Infinityglass (which just released) are the first of four of my picks that are set in Tennessee and one of two that are based on the Tennessee town of Franklin. I love this series because Myra McEntire isn’t afraid to lay on the metaphors and has her characters think and say things like:
My breath caught in my throat. Hot buttered biscuits and honey.
“You’re not what I expected.”
And also? Kaleb Ballard. Good gracious–what a fine specimen. 🙂
The Hundred Oaks series, Catching Jordan, Stealing Parker, Things I Can’t Forget and the upcoming Racing Savannah, are actually set in Franklin, TN (whereas the Hourglass series is set in the fictional town of Ivy Springs which is based on Franklin.) What is it with this town, anyway? Some mighty good writers are coming out of there…
So, straight up this companion series is one of my favorites. I love the down home feeling you get reading them. I feel like I KNOW that town, that high school, those ball fields, those churches and those people at this point. It could be any small-ish town in the South and yes, I CAN relate.
I have never been to Nashville, ya’ll, but damn if I don’t want to go now that I have read Dirty Little Secret. Besides all the awesome music themes in this book–the city of Nashville plays center stage–from the Grand Ole Oprey, to Broadway where all the country music bars are, to Music Row with all the big label record houses can be found– Jennifer Echols totally brings that city to life in her book. I’m ready to roll up to one of those bars on Broadway and see Sam Hardiman on stage…
John Green has three books set in the South. An Abundance of Katherines, which is my first Green book and still my favorite, as well as Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns. The reason I love this book is that it TOTALLY pokes fun at the South–and hey, I’m not above a good laugh, especially when it comes to Southern stereotypes. I laughed my ASS off while I was reading this book. My favorite part, without a doubt, is the wild hog hunting scene. You should read this book for that scene alone, people. Seriously funny and seriously just like the South:)
Lakeview, North Carolina
New Orleans, Louisiana
The scent of Havana tobacco draped thick from the magnolia trees in the front yard. Ice cubes mingled and clinked against the sides of crystal tumblers. Patrick said hello to a group of men sitting on the veranda. I heard the pop of a champagne cork and laughter from inside.
Gosh, does that little paragraph evoke a mood or what?
Ft. Myers, Florida
Social Circle, Georgia
This supernatural/ ghost story/ mystery is set among big sprawling magnolia trees, perfect for climbing by the way, old abandoned back yard wells and ponds with slippery, moss covered rocks. It is a gorgeous, creepy, southern setting.
Hot. Texas. Boys.
And because it is an adult book it’s hot, Texas boys in action. 🙂 But the setting of Houston, with it’s wealthy socialite ladies and big wig oil barons is just plain awesome and the perfect escape for a middle-class girl like me:)
New Orleans, Louisiana
I read Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witches and Vampire Chronicles books right after high school and became OBSESSED. And that was well before the Tom Cruise movie and Twilight vampire mania. All you have to do is read a few chapters of The Witching Hour and it is clear that Anne Rice has intimate knowledge of the city of New Orleans. If you are a fan of the real New Orleans–not just the French Quarter and Bourban Street–but those old graceful homes that flank the Garden District– then do yourself a favor and read some of Anne Rice’s NOLA stuff. Her descriptions of that part of New Orleans are incredible.
by Sally Green
March 4, 23014
Source: Gifted to me by the uber generous Lauren @ Love Is Not A Triangle
THANK YOU, chica!
Half Bad by Sally Green is a breathtaking debut novel about one boy’s struggle for survival in a hidden society of witches.
You can’t read, can’t write, but you heal fast, even for a witch.
You get sick if you stay indoors after dark.
You hate White Witches but love Annalise, who is one.
You’ve been kept in a cage since you were fourteen.
All you’ve got to do is escape and find Mercury, the Black Witch who eats boys. And do that before your seventeenth birthday.
Easy. (Goodreads Summary)
My Take On It