Just One Day is not a novel it is more like an experience. The author, Gayle Forman, best known for her novel If I Stay, makes it a point to take us to various places in Europe but when she thinks it’s enough of Europe gets us back in the United States and once even to Mexico maybe to just tease Donald Trump (I know he wasn’t the president when the book was published).
Story [Without Spoilers]
Forman’s novel revolves around an 18-year-old girl Allyson Healey who is confused about life and is in the UK for Teens Tour with many others her age but the only person she is friends with is Melanie, who apparently is her childhood friend and yet pretty different from her. As the tour ends they are on their way back to America but they find a guy named Willem, a Dutch theatre actor, who somehow is able to persuade Allyson to come with him to Paris for a day. But let me just tell you her cell phone is not working in Europe and she’s with a man whom she met just hours ago.
But no problem, now they’re in Paris, they are enjoying and having fun, and not to forget there are some really interesting and deep conversations also happen during this time. And throughout this one day, Allyson finds herself to be a completely different person, Lulu, who is fearless and ready to take on every challenge. As the night comes, Allyson finds herself to be in love with Willem and he also loves her back.
But the next morning Willem is not there, he has left her all alone in Paris and she doesn’t even have any money left. She tries to find Willem but she fails at all her attempts, she somehow manages to go back home with the help of their group leader. Once back home she wants to find Willem but she doesn’t have his contact number, his address or anything, she doesn’t even know his full name.
A year goes by and she decides to go back to Paris to find Willem or maybe the fearless side of herself, Lulu, against her parents will who have just got to know that their daughter was in Paris.
So is she able to go to Paris? If yes, then does she find Willem there? What happens when they meet? Does she become fearless? You get answers to these questions by the end of the novel.
The novel is written in the first person narrative and the story is narrated by the protagonist Allyson Healey. The narration seems to be a little longer especially through the one year that Allyson spends in America at college. It novel is flushed with references to Shakespeare which at no point disrupts the flow, rather they take the story forward swiftly.
There aren’t many characters in the novel, the main characters being Allyson, Willem, Melanie, Allyson’s mother, Dee (a friend at college), amongst others. The characters are layered, and each layer is revealed slowly and steadily as the story progresses.
There are points at which the novel seemed stretched during the middle of the novel and that’s also the time when the story slows down a little making it challenging to stay with the characters.
- I think everything is happening all the time, but if you don’t put yourself in the path of it, you miss it.
- When the sun shines, you let it shine on you. Snow is always waiting.
- You have to fall in love to be in love, but falling in love isn’t the same as being in love.
- Sometimes, you can only feel something by its absence.
- There’s no such thing as quitting while you’re ahead. You quit while you were behind. That’s why you quit!
Overall Review and Rating
Just One Day is not a kind of novel that you’d like to read on your study table, it is a kind of novel that must be read while on the road to get its proper feel and to absorb its real essence. You’ll find some really interesting concepts being discussed in the novel some of which you might not agree to but still give it a shot, you won’t regret it and would perhaps crave to read the next novel in the series, Just One Year.
I’m going with 3.5 out of 5 for Just One Day by Gayle Forman.