[Review] Just One Day - Gayle Forman

Title of Book: Just One Day
Author: Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #1
Publisher: Speak
Publication Year: 2013
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 369

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. 


Allyson is a good student who always follows the rules. Her life has always been well-planned and organized. That is until her post-graduation European tour. On the last day, she decides to abandon her plan. Instead of going to London with her best friend, Melanie, she went to Paris with a guy she just met. Putting aside how dangerous and stupid it is, Allyson ended up discovering herself on the unexpected trip.

Just One Day is basically divided into two parts. The first part follows Allyson on her European tour leading up to the Paris trip. While the second part chronicles Allyson’s life after the Paris trip and spans for a year. In the first part, we learn that Allyson met an actor named Willem when she’s on her way to see a Shakespeare play. Then they met again on a train and obviously there’s an attraction between them. Thinking that it’s meant to be, Willem asked Allyson to spend a day in Paris with him. Allyson said yes, and they spent the day in Paris. It was fun and romantic until Willem left Allyson the next day without saying anything. 

The first part didn’t excite me much except for the exploring Paris bit. Reading the first part, I’m scared for Allyson because she’s accepting invitation from a stranger to travel to another country in which she doesn’t even know how to speak the language. Not to mention her money’s limited and her phone didn’t work. That means her safety depends on a man that she’s only met. Also, Willem is kind of fishy. Just from spending an hour with him you could tell that he’s a womanizer. To top it off, they don’t even know each other’s last name (or even Allyson’s real name, Willem decided to give her a nickname based on her similarity with an actress) or each other’s contact. Though the theme of this book and Willem’s principal in life is to believe in accident and happenstance, to me their situation screams disaster.

The second part is where it gets interesting. After being left behind by Willem, Allyson fell into depression. She closed herself off and refuse to apply herself in life. Personally, I think it’s unrealistic to be in that state just because of a one-night stand. Mostly because back then in Europe she knows what she gets herself into. The good thing is, Willem becomes a catalyst for Allyson’s growth. Slowly she realized that instead of looking for this great love in the shape of Willem, she looks for the feeling that she got when she was travelling with Willem. When she was given a chance to change her college plan, she liberated herself by starting to put what she wants for her life first.

Overall, Just One Day ends up to be a good self discovery story. I like that this book doesn’t focus solely on the romantic aspect. I was interested in this book because the description reminds me of the movie Before Sunrise. But Just One Day is not like Before Sunrise and that’s fine with me. I’ve also read Forman’s other series, If I Stay, and ended up liking it. Although honestly, I didn’t have high expectation for this book. It was a nice contemporary read. If you’re looking for a contemporary book that doesn’t only feature romance, this book is recommended for you.

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