My original plan for my review of Just One Day was to pop it in one of my mini review posts. Then I read Just One Year and decided to put the two together in one post. I feel like they’re meant to be talked about together since they’re essentially the same story…two sides of the same coin, if you will. These books are all about fate and accidents (not the disastrous kinds) and my friend and I experienced one of these accidents ourselves. Fellow blogger Natalie, of Browsing Bookshelves, and I both read Just One Day (synopsis here) on the same day without the other knowing it. How’s that for a coincidence? We needed to meet up to discuss the book but then decided to wait to talk about it until we had both read Just One Year (synopsis here). Unfortunately, because of Christmas craziness, we still haven't been able to meet up!
I had been hearing great things about Gayle Forman for awhile. Truthfully, most of that positive praise came from Jamie of Perpetual Pageturner and The Broke and the Bookish. After she talked about meeting Forman at a signing that happened to take place on her birthday (check out her post…I love how happy she looks!) I thought I should finally get around to reading Just One Day to see what it was all about. I’m so glad I did! It was an emotional and amazing read and Just One Year was no different.
I read Just One Day in one sitting. Literally. I sat on the couch, started the book, and did not move until I finished it. (Keep in mind I am a fast reader!) I got so sucked into Allyson and Willem’s story that I had to keep going until I finished it. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough! Forman has written an incredibly compelling and modern love story. It’s fantastic. Just One Year was the exact same and if I didn’t have to go out (to meet Natalie, actually) I would have stayed in my chair and finished that one in one go, too!
I loved the traveling aspect of the stories. I’ve never really traveled anywhere and I think I’d like a guided tour, like the one Allyson and Melanie were on in Just One Day, but, like Allyson, I think I might feel a little let down by the sights as they whizzed by. Watching her explore Paris with Willem and other cities on her own was a lot of fun. Because of Forman’s writing, I felt what she felt (amazement, anxiety, love, and so on) as she traveled and experienced new things. Reading about Willem’s solo adventures was even more interesting. He was a seasoned traveler and knew who to talk to, where to stay, where to eat, and so on. I like that both Willem and Allyson easily made friends with fellow travelers and how those turned into more than just a passing acquaintance.
I’m a lot like Allyson – always doing the right thing, being the good girl – so I really connected with her. I hated seeing her upset after everything fell apart in Paris. The first year of college or university can be hard enough without being heartbroken and becoming estranged from your best friend. Allyson’s circumstances and reactions could be seen as completely over the top but Forman makes it work.
I loved learning more about Willem in Just One Year. I didn’t think I would but I ended up really loving it. And, in all honesty, I fell a little bit in love with him, too. (Oh come on, like you’ve never crushed on a fictional character…hehe.) There was a lot going on in his world that we only got a hint at in the first book. The second book really shows why he is the way he is and what motivates him and I thought that was excellent.
When reading Just One Day I was on edge for almost the entire book, wondering if and when Allyson would ever find Willem again. I desperately hoped they would because I didn’t think my poor heart could take it if they didn’t! Then, when reading Just One Year, I couldn’t believe how anxious I was. I knew what was happening in Allyson’s world as Willem searched for her. The number of times they came close to finding each other was maddening. And even though I knew what would happen at the end, I was still stressed out!
I’m so glad I finally read Just One Day and Just One Year. I now understand why everyone is in love with Gayle Forman! If you’re looking for a great contemporary read, check out this series. I’m definitely going to make a point to read some of Forman’s other books, particularly If I Stay as it is being made into a movie right now. Have you read Gayle Forman’s books? What did you think of them?