Thursday, January 3, 2013
Just Finished Reading ... Just One Day by Gayle Forman
by Gayle Forman
To be published by Dutton Books
on January 8, 2013
Source: ARC from Around the World Book Tours. I also got my own copy thanks to the fantastic Bookworm 1858, who did an ARC swap with me.
My summary: Allyson follows all the rules on her student trip to Europe. That's just the kind of girl she is: rule-follower, perfect only child, academic overachiever. Until she makes a rash, impulsive, completely un-Allyson-like decision. In London, she meets Willem, an actor who's part of a cast of a very unconventional Shakespeare play. She agrees to hop on a train to Paris with him. This one decision -- and the brief relationship with Willem that follows -- will have lasting repercussions, making Allyson question everything she thought she'd figured out about herself, her life and the world.
My take: Just One Day is a book I wish I'd read at eighteen. Yeah, I relate a lot to Allyson. I'm of those rule-following, people-pleasing sort of girls. So I was literally biting my nails and dying with jealousy as I watched Allyson throw her carefully made plans out the window and hop on a train. If this book had just been about that rash decision, following Allyson and Willem around Paris and dissolving on a scene of them standing in front of a golden sunset of happliy-ever-after, I would have been satisfied.
But Just One Day was so much more than that. This is a story about identity and independence, about how difficult it can be (at any age! ) to figure out your place in the world. For those readers who have had it up to here with insta-love, Just One Day takes a very different look at the whole "love at first sight" thing. You follow this romantic young couple around Paris and everything is all happy and hazy. Then, a few scenes later, the whole love affair blows up. In the aftermath of her time with Willem, Allyson has to come to terms with the fact that he's someone she barely knows, someone whose actions she can't understand. Or is she the one who's in the wrong, who never gave him a chance?
I loved Allyson as a character and I loved the growth she shows through the course of the book. Because again, Just One Day is not just one of those simplistic "Good Girl Gone Wild" kind of books that's just for laughs. It's a thoughtful look at a girl who realizes that the goals she's been working toward may be the wrong ones, that the guy she's fallen for may be the wrong guy. For a while, she wallows. Then she picks herself up and sets out to try to figure things out. And it's hard. And she knows that unlike in a mushy romantic book, her whole plan might just end up a disaster. But Gayle Forman wouldn't do that to me.... would she?
Just One Day has a companion book/sequel called Just One Year that will be released later this year. I can't wait to hear more about Allyson, and I can't wait to hear Willem's side of the story, because let's just say he has some explaining to do!
...if you've read Just One Day and loved it, you've got to watch these two Richard Linklater films: Before Sunrise (1995) and its sequel, Before Sunset (2004).
In Before Sunrise, American tourist Jesse meets a young French woman named Céline on a train. Jesse persuades Céline to get off the train with him in Vienna. Jesse has a flight back to the States the next morning and doesn't have money for a hotel, so they have a romantic night in Vienna together, roaming around the city until sunrise. Then they say goodbye, promising that they'll meet in six months. Will they? Your opinion might depend on whether you're a romantic or a cynic. And if you want to find out what really happened six months later, you can find out in Before Sunset. In that film, Jesse is now a successful writer who's just published a book about the beautiful young Parisian he met ten years before. He's doing a reading in a Paris bookstore and is stunned when Céline walks in.
Is Just One Day giving a wink and a nod to these films? I don't know, but both feature two young tourists meeting up, a train, a group of actors doing an impromptu play, the romantic night together, the abrupt separation. There's even a character named Céline in both.
So, if you've seen and loved these films, you've got to read Just One Day. And vice versa.