Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading: Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Just Finished Reading: Just One Year by Gayle Forman

Just One Year
by Gayle Forman
To be published by Dutton Books
on October 10, 2013

Source: a million thanks to my amazing blogger friend Heather from Flyleaf Review, who lent me her most cherished ARC of 2013.

Connect with the author: website | Facebook | Twitter.

Summary of the book from GayleForman.com: When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or home in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. . . .
My take:  I loved Just One Day -- you can read my review here. At the end of my review, I said: "I can't wait to hear Willem's side of the story, because let's just say he has some explaining to do!" Well, in Just One Year, I finally got to find out what happened to him. But I learned more than that. I learned why it happened. Because in Just One Year, I learned a lot of new things about Willem, his life, and his world view.

I'll start by saying that, in some ways, these two companion books were not entirely what I expected. I think I'm so used to romantic contemporary YA being about the couple. The relationship. The falling in loooove. And what I've come to decide is that Just One Day and Just One Year are more about the stuff that is almost never mentioned in fictional romances -- namely, the forces that conspire to push a couple apart. Things like fears, the past, baggage, insecurities, bad luck and bad timing, former relationships, even Big Mistakes.

Just One Year begins right after the night that Allyson and Willem spent in Paris. He wakes up and has no idea where he is or what happened to him. But slowly, he begins to piece together that night and what transpired the next morning. He wants to find the mysterious "Lulu" but has no idea who she is or where to start. He tries, but in the meantime, he's also dealing with a bunch of personal stuff: his still unprocessed grief over the death of someone close to him, and his strained relationship with his mother.

We don't learn much about Willem in Just One Day -- he's only in the story for about one-third of the book. But I learned a lot about him in Just One Year. I was excited that Willem isn't the typical YA book boy, who's typically a popular kid or a broody loner. Willem felt like a fresh type of character. He's a true citizen of the world with a well-used passport and a global point of view.  His parents were each born in a different country, and he attended school in the Netherlands and did theater in France. He speaks four languages fluently and "gets by" in two more.

The downside of this is that Willem spends a fair amount of time in Just One Year doing more globetrotting. But that's who he is and that's his unique journey. I must confess that I got impatient with him at times, but mostly I enjoyed the ride and enjoyed getting to know him.

The ending was …. abrupt. I must also confess that after all this waiting and waiting, I was hoping for a tiny bit more swoon. Just a few pages. I was hoping for Where She Went-style swoon. But I loved the fact that Adam from those two books was mentioned in this story, and eventually, I came around to the ending.

I'm a big fan of these two books. They tell a story that all readers can relate to, whether you are a teenager waiting to fall in love, or someone who's already taken a few hard knocks in the romance department. These books take a different perspective on love and romance, one that I found interesting. And they combine love with wanderlust in a way that is pretty irresistible!

19 comments:

  1. Ahhh I'm so glad you liked it. The way you describe the book, it sounds like we fall in love with Willem even more because a lot more is revealed about him. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this one! Great review :)

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  2. The travel and storytelling sound great

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    1. If you love travel stories and romance, these are for you!

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  3. Beautiful review, Jen! I still need to read Just One Day - or any of Gale's books for that matter (reader fail!) - and I am planning to do so for our contemporary fic month in February :) I've heard great things about Gale's writing, and I definitely like that these companion books are more about what pulls couples apart and not about the romance and falling in love itself.

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    1. Oh, you should definitely try one. If you love tearjerkers, try If I Stay. If you like romance and travel, then Just One Day!

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  4. " I think I'm so used to romantic contemporary YA being about the couple. The relationship. The falling in loooove. And what I've come to decide is that Just One Day and Just One Year are mostly about the stuff that is almost never mentioned in fictional romances -- namely, the forces that are always conspiring to push a couple apart. Things like the fears, the past, the baggage, the insecurities, the bad luck and bad timing, the former relationships, even The Big Mistakes."

    I LOVE this, Jen! This is the very heart of Just One Year--you summed it up beautifully. I think that Forman could've written this sequel in a way that YA readers come to expect--lots of face time between the couple--big declarations of love, etc. but I am SO HAPPY that she choose to go the opposite route. It really elevated this book in my opinion. And all of those things that you mentioned are totally relevant and they deserve the chance to be focused on--even in a romantic, contemporary YA book :)

    And I love that you appreciated Willem for what he is too--I love how complicated and typically un-YA a love interest he turned out to be. Why can't more YA author's do this??? So refreshing.

    Yeah, I was impatient with the globe trotting too--heck I was impatient with a lot while reading--I have never had so much anxiety and trepidation reading a book, EVER. Or the desire to skip ahead and find out what happens because it was KILLING me to have to wait. That's why I think I need to do a JOD and JOY back-to-back re-read. I'm sure that it will be a different experience now that I know how it all goes down in the end:)

    I'm so happy you enjoyed this, and I'm so glad that I got the opportunity to share it with you! :)

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    1. Thanks so much -- I know how much you wanted this ARC and it means a lot that you trusted me to borrow it :) I kept all the post-it flags intact...

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  5. I felt like this ending could have been better. I've been waiting for this book and I assume it would be similar to Where She Went. I think since I had such high hopes for an epic ending, and it didn't happen that way, I felt let down. Still, I liked the book.

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    1. I agree that I could have used a few more pages of ending. I thought that Where She Went gave us a bit more of an "ahhh" moment!

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  6. Eeeek! I got my copy in the mail yesterday. I'm super excited to read it when I get a chance. I have been dying to read it and learn what happen to Willem since I finished JOD.


    Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books

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  7. I've been really looking forward to reading this one. I'm a little worried about that abrupt ending, since I'm sure I'll want more than that. Hopefully my library will get this one in soon. :)

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  8. I can't wait to read it! I'm super psyched to hear that Adam is mentioned. I also want to read more about Willem. He seems really different and I love that he travels a lot. The thing that I liked about Just One Day was that it had these incredibly dramatic moments, but it also had so many meh and in-between moments as well which I thought was so realistic. I'm looking for more of that in Just One Year.

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

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  9. The more I hear about this book not really being about the romance, the less interested in it I am. I feel like they've really marketed this as an epic love story and it's not really, is it?

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  10. Gosh. Willem sounds dreamy. Sigh. I haven't read Just One Day yet - I'm waiting for Just One Year so I'm looking forward to getting to know these characters. I love that the romance isn't really a focal point, though that's what I'm more excited about. Lol.

    Great review!

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  11. YAYA you liked this >.< The reviews have been a little shaky on this so I hope I enjoy it

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  12. I'm so glad to hear you liked this! I also got a bit impatient with his globetrotting, but it did stay true to the impression I originally had of him. I also hoped for a bit more swoon, but overall I enjoyed it. Wonderful balanced review!

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  13. YAY! I didn't expected anything else! I still haven't started this series but I'm so glad that you loved every bit it and were satisfied till the end. I can hardly wait to read Just One Day :)

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  14. Gah, every review I read of this has me wavering one way or the other. I should just do it, right? I LOOOOOOVED Where She Went, but I know I can't expect those kinds of swoons from all her books. Still...

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