Book Reviews

Just One Year by : Gayle Forman

12842134[1]“Just One Day. Just One Year. Just One Read.

Before you find out how their story ends, remember how it began….

When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back 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. . . .

The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents that happen—and the happiness we can find when the two intersect.”~ Goodreads

Let me prefice this by saying that this is the follow-up book to Just One Day by Gayle Forman. You must read that book first. If you haven’t, look away! Shield your eyes! For those who have, I promise not to give anything away.

Ok, now onto my thoughts about one of the most anticipated sequels (for me) this year. It’s really not a sequel but delves into Willem’s mind and story of what happened to him in Paris when he didn’t return to “Lulu” the morning after they were together. As a reader you know from the first book that Allyson/Lulu shows up at the end and reading this book gave me such anxiety and butterflies in my stomach waiting for that moment once again. I had sooo many questions about Willem in Just One Day and can happily report that they were ALL answered in this book.

Who was Willem really?

Why was he running from place to place?

What was his family like? His friends? His childhood?

Did he really care for Allyson? Or was she just another “stop” along the way?

Was his whole persona an act?

Did he really ditch her or did something happen that prevented him from returning?

Did he ever search for Allyson?

The best part of this book was the brilliant writing by Gayle Forman. I can’t even do it justice except to say that she takes her time for a story to unfold, her secondary characters are so well developed and involved with the protagonists, she thoroughly transports the reader to all the exotic places and she makes you ponder the bigger questions in life.

“And something tells me if it matters, maybe it shouldn’t be easy.”

I absolutely LOVED getting inside Willem’s head, meeting his family and friends. Seeing where he was from and continuing with him on his journeys that year helped clear up some questions from Just One Day. Those missed encounters between Allyson and Willem that year were agonizing!  This was not just the same story rewritten from his point of view that unfortunately many authors choose to do, thank goodness. The debate of fate vs. luck and intentions vs. accidents were engaging and left for the reader to decide.

But. BUT! The ending!? Oh, Gayle Forman!! This ending has ruined me for the day. I can’t possibly start another book and will just shuffle around in a haze.  I need to go on a walk after writing this and clear my head and ask myself why did she choose to end it that way. Why?

I can only think of two reasons:

1.) She is a bold and brave author by not wrapping up the story in a neat little bow with the characters getting married and having 2.5 kids, moving to the ‘burbs and living Happily Ever After. But is that too much to ask, Ms. Forman? I guess I am just a sappy romantic who wanted more swooning, etc.

It reminded me a bit Eleanor and Park in the way that it ended too soon. I remember having the same reaction with Gone With The Wind with Scarlett’s ending speech of “I won’t think of that now. I’ll think about it tomorrow. For tomorrow is another day.” What?! Did she save Tara? Did Rhett Butler come back and throw her over his shoulder like before? Did they have more kids? Come on. Give me something. But no. Like all great authors they leave the ending up to the reader to decide what happens. And I get it. I just don’t necessarily like it.

OR

2.) There is a third book. Anyone? Anyone with an inside scoop? A novella? Hidden Epilogue? Bueller?

So yea. I LOVED it. I love Gayle Forman because she is a consistently superb writer of Contemporary YA. I will read anything by her. It’s the perfect follow-up/companion to Just One Day. But once again, I am sorry to see the story of Willem and Allyson end.

“Sometimes fate or life or whatever you want to call it, leaves a door a little open and you walk through it. But sometimes it locks the door and you have to find the key, or pick the lock, or knock the damn thing down. And sometimes, it doesn’t even show you the door, and you have to build it yourself. But if you keep waiting for the doors to be opened for you… I think you’ll have a hard time finding single happiness, let alone that double portion.”

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