A taste of freedom: JUST ONE DAY by Gayle Forman

Posted 28 January, 2013 | Mary @ TheBookSwarm | | 28 Comments

JUST ONE DAY (Just One Day #1) by Gayle Foreman
YA Contemporary
368 pages, hardcover
Available now (January 2013)
Publisher: Dutton
Review copy purchased

When sheltered American good girl Allyson flirt encounters laid-back Dutch actor Willem at an underground performance of Twelfth Night, there’s an undeniable spark. So when fate brings them together a second time, Allyson takes an uncharacteristic leap, changes course, and follows Willem to Paris. After just one day together, the spark bursts into a flame…until Allyson wakes up after a whirlwind day shocked to discover that Willem is gone.

A life upended in one day turns into a year of self-discovery as Allyson embarks on a journey to break free from a lifetime of limits in order to find her true passions, and maybe even a true love.

Positive: The travel. Books that take their characters across continents and deep into unfamiliar cities always steal my heart. And make me want to travel. JUST ONE DAY follows Allyson’s journey from London to Paris to the States back to Paris to Holland to Amsterdam. It’s quite a trip, filled with intriguing characters, crepes, art, and plenty of walking.

Positive: Breaking out of your comfort zone, FTW. Allyson’s always done what she’s supposed to do. Heck, she’s on a graduation trip across Europe, where she’s legal, doesn’t drink and doesn’t sneak out after curfew. But this boy makes her think, makes her impulsive and helps her break out of her safe, little comfort zone. Every teenager should try something different, something that scares them and pushes them beyond their boundaries. Every *person* should do it. It’s how we grow.

Positive: The romance, of sorts. Allyson and Willem flirt in the park but nothing comes of it. Until she runs into him again on the train and she’s enchanted. Enchanted enough to follow him to Paris for just one day, despite her friend’s shock and her fear. Willem teaches her how to be impulsive, to live in the moment. But, even as she opens up to him, she doesn’t learn much about him. He holds himself close, revealing only tiny snippets. Still, she does fall into his arms rather easily probably due to the heady combination of freedom, Paris and a cute boy who’s paying close attention to her.

Wish: Lose the funk. When it’s all over and he’s disappeared again from her life, she returns to her “real” life and her first year in college. Except she can’t stop thinking about him and their one day. So she turtles up in her dorm room, sleeping and pretty much self-destructing. She alienates her roommates and her BFF. She tanks her GPA. She’s in a ridiculous funk and she really just needs to snap out of it. Of course, there’s more to it than just her puppy love. Parental pressures, college pressures and that brief taste of freedom all play a part in her school-year-long funk but still.

Overall: I couldn’t put this book down, devouring it in one afternoon. Despite my annoyance that this girl could fall into such a self-destructive funk after one day with that dude, I enjoyed both her literal and figurative journey of self-discovery.

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28 Responses to “A taste of freedom: JUST ONE DAY by Gayle Forman”

  1. I need to read this one so bad! But , now that I read your review closer I am also a little scared. Like, does this book has a happy ending?? Or do we need to wait for the next book? It also seems weird to me that she would fall in such a bad place just after one day.. hm!

  2. “turtles up” – LOL! Great review. We were skeptical when we read the sneak peek, despite loving Forman’s other books, but it sounds like that sneak peek wasn’t entirely representative, b/c you and everyone else seem to be loving this story. Can’t wait to check it out ourselves!

  3. I don’t know how well I’d deal with a mopey heroine. I’m not the biggest fan of contemporary ya, to be honest, and although I liked Forman’s first two books, I think I’ll want for the second one to come out before picking up this one.
    It does sound lovely, don’t get me wrong, but I’d rather have it all available than wait in agony for the second one to come out.
    Fantastic review!

  4. I haven’t read anything by Gail Foreman Mary, I don’t think I can even call myself a book blogger because of it. I think Allyson’s funk will definitely be frustrating for me, I can understand being a bit heartbroken, but I can’t understand being so devastated after one day that I’d alienate everyone around me and tank my GPA. Still, overall the positives outweigh the negatives I think, so I’m looking forward to giving this one a read!

    • Aw, I think you can keep your book blogger status but only if you remedy that right away!

      The devastation seemed a bit too extreme to me, too. But I guess it goes along with the title. Wouldn’t be as cool if it was “Just One Month”!

    • *crashes the conversation* I saw Allyson’s Paris aftermath as part heartbreak, but also part… like… her day with Willem made her reassess her life and what it was–and she found it lacking. She was unhappy with who she was and who she was expected to be and that caused a large part of her funk. But I also think that, as someone who has always been seen as reliable and not adventurous–like Allyson–and wanted to break free of that, I related especially well to that aspect of the story.

    • I’m right there with you on the reliable and not adventurous bus, Amanda! I think part of the reason the funk annoyed me was because I could see myself doing something like that and I was all, “Snap out of it!” Kind of wish the focus was more on her reassessing her life, rather than thinking Willem was the answer to all her issues.

  5. Glad you enjoyed this overall! I also loved the way Allyson broke out of her comfort zone in the beginning on a whim, and in a big way at the end. Right there with you on hating that she got into such a funk freshman year. It was at times painful to see her crash and burn like that! I wanted to step into the story and slap some sense into her. Laughing so hard at “turtles up,” btw. 🙂 Wonderful review!

  6. So happy you enjoyed this one! I agree, it was a bit annoying when Allyson was a funk (I enjoyed it more once she started coming out of her shell).

    Fabulous review!

  7. Oh Mary!! How you tempt me!
    I so want to pick this one up but I want to be able to enjoy it and right now it’s all WORK!

    But, I get you on the funk! I hope it doesn’t bother me much because girls that mope after boys are a big pet peeve of mine, I usually just keep thinking “Oh, snap out of it, already!”

  8. I actually understood this funk, I know it was just one day, but that was a real life changing day for her. But at the same time I agree that it got depressing and I wanted to scream at her to DO SOMETHING TO CHANGE HER SITUATION. So when she finally did it was a relief. I LOVED this book and also loved all the travel. This is one that will stick with me for a very long time!

  9. I couldn’t help but love this one, despite it not being exactly what I expected, and despite the fact that it kind of left us hanging, and for a few other reasons… I just had to give it five stars for all the crazy emotions it made me feel. I’m a DYING for Willem’s POV to finally get a peak at what he’s been thinking.

  10. Ohh, I kind of liked the funk, though! It was such a departure from the first half of the book, which I thought was such an interesting tactic. But man, how could she end things where she did? Gahhh. October is way too far away.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden