Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Just One Day + Just One Year by Gayle Forman

This week is shaping up to be pretty neat over here. Mike and I have early screening tickets for About Time and Gayle Forman is going to be doing an event in Denver this Thursday. The nifty thing about the Gayle Forman event is that I'll be part of it! So if you're in the Denver area on Thursday (that's October 24) and are interested, the event is at 7:00 at the the Colfax Ave Tattered Cover. The topic is: Just One Day to Just One Year: A Conversation About Love, Travel and Transformation.

Today I'm doing two quick reviews of Just One Day and Just One Year - I should note that while I've seen folks raving about Gayle's work all over the place, these were my intro to her list. I absolutely adored Willem and Allyson's stories, though, and now have If I Stay in my TBR as well (thanks to the lovely Jill at Penguin).

Allyson expected her trip around Europe to be more exciting - it was to be an adventure, but instead the Teen Tours trip turned out to be a bit dull: shuttling off from one tourist site to another wasn't her idea of seeing the world. On the final night of the tour, the group is in Stratford Upon Avon with tickets to see Hamlet. But Allyson and her friend Melanie opt to attend an outdoor performance of Twelfth Night instead. The next morning, Allyson runs into the play's Sebastian on the train to London and he invites to her travel to Paris with him for the day. His name is Willem and while Allyson would normally never go off with a boy she doesn't know, this day is different. On this day, Allyson will finally have her adventure. But in the wake of that one day, Allyson finds it almost impossible to go back to her old self. 

For Willem, that one day had an equally powerful effect. Willem's a bit of a ladies' man and a wanderer but even though he doesn't tell Allyson about his past, there's a very real reason for his behavior. In the year following the time he spent with Allyson he'll not only have to finally face his own demons but he'll wonder about the girl he called Lulu. 

Oh, both of these books are so wonderful! Allyson and Willem are both so easy to love and I have to admit that it took every ounce of willpower on my part not to skip straight to the end of Just One Year to find out what happens to them.

The really cool thing about these books is that Willem's tale in Just One Year mirrors Allyson's in Just One Day. Willem's story begins the morning after their day in Paris. Allyson - and therefore the reader - never knew what happened to Willem that morning. And while Allyson is essentially (but not exactly) pining over Willem in the year to come, I don't think it's giving too much away to say that Willem is doing the same for his mysterious Lulu.

Not only has Forman created two beautifully realized main characters, she's built up a cast of excellent supporting characters as well. Everyone from Allyson's friends Dee and Melanie, to her parents and her grandmother, Willem's friends Broodje and Prateek, and even Willem's fellow actors (and others I won't mention out of fear of spoilers). And one can't fail to mention the various settings - it's clear that Forman has a real passion for travel. The various locales that both Allyson and Willem travel through in the course of their stories are rich in detail and completely come to life through Forman's writing.

Rating (on both): 5/5


As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I liked both of these books very much--Gayle Forman is quite the writer. THanks for the reviews and I hope you have a great time at the event!

Keertana said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed both of these! I loved them as well and am thrilled to see that I'm not the only one who found Willem's tale so satisfying. Great reviews!(:

Michelle (my books. my life.) said...

Sorry I am just now getting to this. Thanks for linking up to the Bloggers Rec Challenge.

I haven't read either of these but I have read If I Stay and loved it. These look wonderful.