When I read Just One Day I had a VERY difficult time rating it. I kept bouncing from 1 to 5 stars, just because my feelings about the book were all over the spectrum. A few weeks ago, in honor of Just One Year coming out soon, I decided to bite the bullet and rate it.
Then started the neverending wait for Just One Year.
Fair warning – there may be general vibe spoilers in this review. Read at your own peril.
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.
I can’t quite express how I felt at the end of JOD. The ruling emotion, though, was frustration. Allyson and Willem have both been through so much, and their time apart was so gut wrenching, mostly due to one big mistake.
We don’t quite know why Willem left the white room in JOD, and reading his side of the story in JOY, things become clearer. Which only makes the frustration grow.
Unfortunately just as I didn’t (and wouldn’t) detail the story, or give my impressions on some parts of the plot in the first book, I’m not going to do that in this review, either.
Gayle Forman’s writing is amazing. She hits that spot in the reader’s personality where the story will influence them the most. Both Allyson and Willem’s take on things left me bereft for the majority of the story. They each had their own experiences and each took something else from their joint experiences that One Day. But the almost hit and mostly miss between them killed me.
Something I very much enjoyed in Willem’s story are his stories about his family, how his parents met, how they were led to each other and everything fell into place. That aspect of the story ties beautifully to Willem and Allyson’s and that left me with an “oh cool!!” impression towards the end.
Forman plotted this book in a very frustrating way. I kept waiting for when Allyson shows up and Willem explains things. Kept waiting for what happens AFTER, only to get to the same point where JOD ended and be left with the same frustrations and annoyance as in the first book.
So yes, I LOVE Forman’s writing. And I loved Allyson’s story in JOD and enjoyed so much Willem’s story in JOY, but I wanted more. I do get, however, that their joint story overall is more their own individual stories and what led them to each other initially and then intentionally. That was very clever, and very emotional.
I’m more than recommending both books, easier to swallow in tandem (I think), but be prepared to be annoyed and anxious during both, but absorb the culture, the ups and downs and the overabundance of almost-hit-but-mostly-misses that litter the story.
Despite my frustrations with the story, I can’t deny it’s fantastically written and I did understand what Forman was doing with it. I can’t not give it a high rating, but also couldn’t not show the effect of my frustrations, so…