Just One Day by Gayle Forman
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.
This was a HARD review to write, which is why it's basically taken months for me to do just that. This book was one of my (and many others') most anticipated books of 2013, so I was surprised to see that the responses (in the beginning, at least) were a little scattered. That didn't faze me in the least, though. I knew it was written by Gayle Forman which is all you really need to know to expect something great.
And I was right; I loved it. Like, reeeeally I-am-totally-head-over-heels-for-this-book loved it. But... I can see why others may not have felt the same. It's not easy reading from the perspective of someone who's depressed. From the synopsis, I think many will expect a swoony happy little love story and upon opening this book, when you learn the reality of what it holds and what Allyson's story is, isn't what you bargained for, I wouldn't blame you for feeling let down.
I think it takes a certain kind of person to truly love this book. If it hadn't resonated so deeply with me, or if I hadn't identified so closely with it, I'm not sure I'd have the same feelings for it as I do now.
There are plenty of swoony moments, and many adventurous thrills to satisfy all those with a mad case of wanderlust, but Just One Day also has so much more to offer. It's a coming-of-age story at its finest.
In JOD, the main character Allyson, is eighteen/nineteen throughout the novel, which I loved because now we finally have a book that caters to older teens - actual young adults - that manages to fulfill and address all the issues, struggles and transitions the newfound freedom this stage in life brings.
And also, I just love that a new adult novel that isn't running around screaming "I'M A NEW ADULT NOVEL BUY ME BUY ME," has succeeded immensely in the authenticity of its story while many new released and up-and-coming titles that have "new adult" smacked on the front - claiming to be particularly written for older teens - don't, and fail to pull off. (Apparently all that's required for a book to be considered NA today is aging up the protagonist a few years, and adding in a sex scene - voila! A 200-page mediocre (at best) overdramatic lovefest and an instant best-seller. Well, sorry, but no.)
Allyson isn't only trying to get over a boy, or find love, but she's attempting to untangle herself from all the expectations others have of her and break free from the little bubble she's been confined in her entire life. The romance was lovely and sweet, but it wasn't the heart of the book for once, though everything stemmed from it, and I loved that.
Confusion, depression, fear, change, growth, identity... those are all the factors that come into play in this book--all that I believe embodies what the termed 'new adult novel' is supposed to be; it has the exact kind of delivery those other NA titles should be aiming to accomplish: self discovery.
If you're looking for a great novel that provides a nice dose of reality and self discovery, you've found it. I thought after a great set of books like If I Stay and Where She Went, it would be hard to wow me further, but Gayle Forman pulled it off excellently. Now, all there's left to do is wait for Just One Year's release. CANNOT WAIT.