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. (synopsis from Goodreads)
“We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.”
This story was amazing on so many levels. There is adventure, culture, love, romance, friendship, family expectations, humor and every aspect is thoroughly addressed. The opening quote from Shakepeare’s “As You Like It” sets the stage for the many parts people play throughout life and how they exit and enter your life in different ways. “But what if Shakespeare― and Hamlet― were asking the wrong question? What if the real question is not whether to be, but how to be?”
Gayle Forman’s story about living life to the fullest and out of the comfort zone, even if only for a day, resonated with me and I am guessing with many readers since it has been so well received. Allyson takes a chance on being adventurous but struggles to keep her pragmatic, organized and negative thoughts at bay. By doing so she has a quite the experience!
“I think everything is happening all the time, but if you don’t put yourself in the path of it, you miss it.”
Another reason I thought this book was amazing was because of the supporting characters, who were so richly developed: best friend Melanie, tour guide Ms. Foley, Celine, The Giant, Allyson’s parents, grandmother, grandma’s boyfriend Phil, Dee-my favorite, Dee’s family, Kali, Professor Glenny, The Aussies, the ever delightful Wren. It makes you mentally scroll through all the people in your life who have made an impact in some way. From the ones you have known your whole life to the vendor, who just upon meeting, brought you to see rows of Tulips in Amsterdam (from the book). Each person impacts your life in so many ways. Allyson expresses that she is amazed at how many strangers she has met along this journey who are really GOOD people. These people also teach her about herself and how it is okay act differently with different people.
“You’re just trying on different identities, like everyone in those Shakespeare plays. And the people we pretend at, they’re already in us. That’s why we pretend them in the first place.”
The poignant moments and quotes are abundant and you will find yourself underlining, highlighting and/or earmarking pages of your book that you want to revisit and keep in your memory. 🙂
Aside from the amazing story, strong characters and romance, there is another major player in this book. The traveling! If this story doesn’t make you want to hop the next plane and visit Stratford-Upon-Avon and experience live Shakepeare in the streets or indulge in some Macarons in Paris, I don’t know what will.
“Travelling’s not something you’re good at. It’s something you do. Like breathing. You can’t work too much at it, or it feels like work. You have to surrender yourself to the chaos. To the accidents.”
My only complaint with this book was reading it back in March 2013 and finding out that there is a second book not due out until October 2013. Not fair! It’s from Willem’s POV and picks up from where the story leaves off. You can definitely read Just One Day and not experience a major cliffhanger-nothing like that. But, I know you will love this story as much as I did and will just want to read more. I wish I was like my usual “behind the trends” self and came across this book with the sequel waiting in the wings.