Allyson Healey’s life is exactly like her suitcase- packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her post graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invited her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life.
A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the ‘accidents’ of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost… and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know.
I don’t know why it took me so long to pick up this book, it seemed like my perfect contemporary read; introverted girl + travel + romance! I would most definitely recommend this to EVERYONE. It took me just one day to read this book, making me laugh and cry along the journey, so as long as you are not afraid of all the feels, then it is a must read! Unlike all of my previous book reviews, I am going to keep this one spoiler free, and at the end I am going to share my favorite quotes!
The story follows Allyson, who is currently on an exhausting and overly planned European Tour. It is the last day of the tour, and she and her friend Melanie go see an Underground performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, where they meet Willem, a charming Dutch boy. Allyson feels the spark between her and Willem, therefore, she rebels against her cautious nature and absconds to Paris with him. Even though they are together for just one day, Allyson feels the spark grow into a fire between them.
I don’t think I have ever related more to a character than I do with Allyson. Similar to Allyson, I have always been the goody-goody who would rather stay inside watching a movie than going out to party. Even when Allyson is in Europe and can legally drink she chooses not to because she endeavors to stay out of trouble. Allyson is highly intelligent and kind, however she is very shy. This changes when she meets Willem who causes her to reinvent herself into “Lulu”, a person who is able to act boldly and be stained by life.
Although Allyson and Willem’s time together takes up a third of the story, they are only together for just one day. While following them on their journey I absolutely loved Gayle Forman’s presentation of Paris, it was so fabulous. Forman not only highlights the popular sights in Paris, but she illustrates the lesser known parts of France. So, if you are not able to go to Paris anytime soon, just read Just One Day because you will feel like you truly traveled to Paris and are completely immersed in the culture!
After what seems like a magical night with Willem, Allyson wakes up completely alone, stranded in Paris. I was really shocked that Willem left Allyson when it was only the first third of the book, because we know it is going to happen eventually, but the fact that it happened so soon enabled the plot to grow richer and more emotionally complex.
The year that follows Allyson after Willem leaves her is dark and dreary. However, when she wakes up from her stupor, she recognizes the necessity to change herself. With the help of some friends she forms, including Dee who was by far my favorite minor character, she begins to find herself once again. Although she still continues to think of Willem, Allyson begins to love her life, embracing the stains smudged on her visage.
Overall, I highly recommend this book to any who haven’t read it yet! Not only is Gayle Forman’s writing absolutely AMAZING, but the story will leave you desperate to read the companion novel Just One Year!
“Willem tsk-tsks. “ You Americans are so violent. I’m Dutch. The worst I will do is run her over with a bicycle”
“We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day”
“And the people we pretend at, they’re already in us. That’s why we pretend them in the first place”
“He showed myself how to get lost, and then I showed myself how to get found”