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!