Book Review: Just One Day

Just One Day
Published by Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: January 8, 2013
Genre: YA contemporary
320 pages 
Buy it on Amazon, IndieBound
 or Barnes and Noble
Source: ARC kindly provided by publisher

My thoughts: 
I absolutely loved Gayle Forman's first two books, and therefore jumped at the chance to read more of her work. Her first duo, If I Stay and Where She Went, were gorgeously written sweeping contemporaries that were perfect examples of all that is right in YA today. I was hoping for more of the same with Just One Day, and wasn't disappointed.

Just One Day is an exploration of what happens when a good girl lets go and allows herself to be impulsive for just one day. Allyson finds herself agreeing to go to Paris for the day with a boy she barely knows, and who knows even less about her. Having always striven to be everything her parents ever wanted in a daughter, Allyson struggles with being confident enough to trust her instincts, as well as trusting enough to keep from ruining what could be an incredible experience. 

Just One Day also explores what happens after that day is over, and the girl has to go back to her regular life, where everything is the same as it was before- except the girl.

As a reader who has never done much traveling, this story which is dependent on explaining the travel experience was a great virtual-vacation. As a reader who was looking for contextual clues to the character's transformation, the changes of scenery were perfect signposts for how Allyson was evolving. 

Allyson's relationships with others were great indicators for how she was changing as well. Whereas she begins the story with one close friend, by the end of the book, she become close with an eclectic group of interesting people, including her own mother. As she becomes accepting of others and allows them to know her and accept her, she also learns to appreciate herself- not as thinks she should be, but as she really is.

I love the message of self-acceptance and confidence that comes through as a strong theme in this novel. I think that we spend so much time cautioning teens to be careful that we forget to teach them to trust themselves to be able to recognize real danger. I recognize that, as a mother, having my daughter do some of the things Allyson did in this book woud scare me silly. As a woman, I wish that at her age I'd had the confidence to experience the world by chance a little bit more. 

Experiencing the world by chance is what Willem seems to have been doing for at least the last couple of years. There are hints that he is a very wounded boy, and it seems that, for a while, at least, he believes that Allyson, or Lulu, as he calls her, can heal him. 

I believe that we're going to see, in book two, that these two characters have actually been doing a lot of self-healing. They've inspired each other, and are working toward a middle ground where they just might find their Happily Ever After. I, for one, will be ready to pounce on book two as soon as it's available, so I can find out.

Summary from GoodReads:
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 ofTwelfth 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!


  1. I have heard a lot about Gayle Forman. But i didn't know that her books were INTERNATIONAL bestsellers. That's awesome. And I am definitely going to check them out now. I love the contemporary side of the story, and I love novels about self-discovery.
    GREAT review, Paula
    Your constant reader,

    1. I can't wait to read this one. Gayle Forman is an amazing writer. You should read If I Stay and Where She Went. I have never cried so hard! Gorgeous and heartbreaking stuff!

  2. Like you, I also LOVED Gayle's first two books and I can't wait to read this new book from her. Sounds fantastic. Great review!

  3. What a great concept for a novel! I will have to check this one out.

  4. I love the idea behind the book. Can't wait for it to come out.

  5. I cannot wait to read this one. I've adored everything this author puts out. Such good reading!!

  6. I can't wait for this one to come out -- loved her first two books and I imagine this one will be just as amazing!

  7. This doesn't sound like the type of thing I'd usually read, but it DOES sound really well-written, and I can't ignore praise like this very easily. I'll probably check it out once it's released. Maybe I'll even find a new favorite author :D

  8. I've never read anything by Gayle Forman before but this is a book that intrigues me because I love traveling.

  9. LOVE Gayle Forman! She's one of my favorite authors!

    And I love how we see the main character grow and change while she's alone, while she makes new friends and while she still is attached to the boy she loves.

    I hope she gets her HEA with him as well!

    Lovely review :)

  10. I definitely pounced on book 2 and loved it as much as this one! Have you read the novella too? Just One Night? It wraps everything up nicely.

  11. The second book is amazing like this one, amazing saga.
    Just love how explore herself first and she knows what she wants and go for this amazing travel to find herself :)


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