Just One Day by Gayle Forman was a light and easy read. Although I couldn’t quite get my head around the idea of someone just going to Paris with a stranger, I let that slide considering how enjoyable this was. The writing style pulled me in and I was fully immersed in Allyson’s story.
My favourite part was the second section: One Year. I wasn’t all that fussed about her One Day, but the year she had after I thought was wonderful. The character development was palpable, and if there is one thing I love, it’s character development. Allyson went from someone who couldn’t stick up for herself and always had to be in the shadow of someone else – her mother, her best friend – to someone who could make their own choices and adventures. I know this was a result of her One Day with Willem, so I guess by extension I also liked her One Day.
My favourite character you ask? Dee.
Why? Because he was exactly what I wasn’t expecting and exactly what Allyson needed. Plus, he had a good sense of humor.
The way that the Forman tackled the ‘oppressive Mom’ was extremely accurate. I felt that Allyson’s relationship with her parents was beyond relatable, and was partly the reason why I kept reading. I wanted to see how our protagonist dealt with it and if we would get the oh-so classic:
“But you’re giving up on your dream!”
“Not my dream, Mom. Yours.”
Wonderful, I never get tired of those speeches.
I loved the minor characters that were introduced, particularly Wren. Although you didn’t know them for long, you felt like they had been with you for the whole book – and I think that was the point. This novel was extremely poignant, because everything linked back to the beginning. And when that happens you realize how wonderfully crafted the whole story is and you just get lost in narrative. The very first page questions Shakespeare’s ‘To Be Or Not To Be’ and I have to say I forgot that that point was made until everything circled right back to it at the end. I think that’s the true teller of a good book, if it can knock you off your feet because of its profound…ness.
Not being a big fan of travel, I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like the travel element to the book. Travel by yourself just seems like such an overwhelming experience, but all the characters seemed to make light of it and make it sound like a fun and worthwhile experience. I loved the change between Allyson’s first and second trip to Paris because she had come so far in the space of a year. Tracking Willem down was also enjoyable to read, because you felt the pang of pity when Allyson hit a dead end, but apparently life if full of coincidences and the majority of them can be found in Paris, France.
Overall I gave Just One Day four stars, because I did love the narrative, and the characters and development. There is just so much more I want to write about, but I wouldn’t want to spoil the story, because, just like Allyson, sometimes you have to take an adventure of your own.