Just One Day by Gayle Forman (A Letter to Allyson)

Just One DayJust One Day by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #1
Published by: Dutton Juvenile on January 8, 2013
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 368
Source: Purchased
Buy on AmazonBook Details
Rating: ★★★

When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Dear Allyson,

You and I got off on the wrong foot. I didn’t like how you were complaining about your parents’ graduation gift to you: a trip through Europe. You kept complaining about the trip, and the touristy things you were doing.. and it made you seem a bit selfish. I understand that there are sometimes places you don’t want to go, or trips you don’t want to take.. believe me, I’ve been there. But I still didn’t like the way you came across. (And how dare your mother buy you a nice new watch for graduation as well.)

I’m glad you enjoyed the first part of your trip to Paris with Willem. It was a bit sketchy and irresponsible for you to hop on a train with some guy you didn’t even know (and let him buy your ticket), but whatever. I’ll let that go. I’m glad you didn’t get sold into sex slavery, even if I wasn’t crazy about you as a person at this point.

Anyway, back to my point…

It seems like you had a decent time in Paris. I personally think you trip sounded a bit boring. I too have spent “just one day” in Paris and I had a blast. Maybe it’s stuck up of me to say, but I think my day was better than yours. You went to Paris and did… nothing. You went on a canal ride and slept in the park. I guess that’s cool. I get that you’re not into touristy things, but I still find it a bit silly that you didn’t have a more proper look around Paris. Sure the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower are “things tourists do”, but they’re interesting and fun for a reason.

I totally couldn’t relate to you falling for Willem though. What did you see in him? The fact that he wouldn’t really tell you anything about himself? Does that make him mysteriously sexy or something? I totally didn’t see that. I didn’t find him charming or funny, which are two key things I’d look for first. I never liked him.. he never made me fall for him. So when you started thinking about loving him after just one day, I rolled my eyes. I’m sorry, maybe that’s rude, but I couldn’t help it. There was at least one eye roll.

Maybe two.

I don’t care how strong your connection is or how many “moments” you have.. you’re not going to love a guy after a day.

But, what really got on my nerves was how you acted AFTER this one day. You were pathetic. I was actually embarrassed for you. If I were you, I would have written off this Paris adventure as a bad day and forgotten about it.. but instead, you let this one day (which ended horribly) completely own you. It consumed your life. You were depressed, boring, weak, and kept thinking about Willem—oh Willem! Why? Why does he dominate your thoughts? He wasn’t that special. The only thing I really learned about him was that he was a player who talked to a lot of girls (and possibly did more with a lot of said girls). So why did you let him take over your life? Why did you refuse to make friends or see guys or have fun? Why did you sleep over 10 hours a night and mope around all year?

Things did pick up when you finally got on your feet. I liked it when you got your ass kicked into gear and you started to shape up your life. I like that you kind of said “screw you” to expectations and changed up your college classes—that was a good move. But, I still found it pathetic how you were determined to find Willem again. I just can’t relate this at all. I tried to understand why you were so desperate to find him. I guess I get that the “not knowing” part would be frustrating.. but still.. Why is Willem so special? I keep thinking back to that. Why is he so deserving of all this attention? I didn’t like him enough to be able to relate to your determination here.

When you went traveling again, I liked that. I thought your travels were more interesting this time around. I liked some of the people you met (like Wren—was that her name? I kind of forget). But, just when I thought the ending might follow through with a learning experience or something on self-exploration, it View Spoiler »

You did learn a lot this year and you have come a long way. I’m proud of you for finally following your own path and your own dreams, and I think it’s pretty cool and brave that you went traveling around Europe on your own. But Willem… really? I do not like him. Maybe you’re even relieved to hear that because it means I won’t try to steal him from you (he’s all yours..). I just still can’t understand why you’re so obsessed with him. It left me with a severe lack of connection and understanding. But mostly I hated your reaction to him and how you let him (and that one day) completely dominate a year of your life. Maybe I just have a hard time believing that you can spend an entire year thinking about just one day over and over again. If I were your friends, I would be annoyed with you constantly obsessing over this “trip to Paris” and “this guy you met once”.

But for your sake, I do hope that Willem isn’t really a cheating player.

All the best,

The Verdict


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  1. I LOVE your review. Everyone loves this book, but I completely agree with your letter–except I never really redeemed Allyson as a character, even by the end. Too much had already gone on, I suppose. I thought I would be able to really relate to her so well because I, too, have always the “good girl” who sometimes just wishes she could be spontaneous, but. . . Allyson was just so infuriating. If it had been just the one day, okay, but I thought her hang-up on Willem was incredibly unhealthy and she was so selfish the entire book. And it was always grates me when book characters are rich kids complaining about things like getting to travel, nice watches, etc. The horror(which is also why I had a major problem with Anna and the French Kiss). I ended up giving this book around 2 stars, which is basically my “this book is okay”, so I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels that way.

    Stormy @ Book.Blog.Bake. recently posted: Day 9 & 10 of the 15 Day Book Blogger Challenge
    1. It’s so comforting to know that you felt the same way! And for the record, I also had huge (even bigger) problems with Anna and the French Kiss! It’s funny because I read that book, hoping it would make me feel better after this one tanked.. but then I thought Anna tanked even harder lol.

  2. I think this is the first review for this book that doesn’t involve gushing. Personally, I liked the book even if I didn’t completely fall for Willem, I’m completely with you that Allyson acted pathetic after that one day but I think that one day was the catalyst for her eventually saying screw you to everybody and moving on.
    Just One Day did awaken the travel bug in me, I used to travel a lot and i also have been to Paris for just one day. Your Just One Day does sound more exciting but mine consisted of riding the train from Zurich to Paris and going to brunch at a cafe, taking a walk around Paris, visiting a few of the local shops, dinner and taking the train back. We didn’t do much but I think the company is what made that day worthwhile and I think that’s why Allyson considers that a good day. Willem may have been a player but they had chemistry for the most part. Great review Ashley!
    Lily @Lilysbookblog

  3. This review made my day. I haven’t read this book but based on the summary alone, I can tell that it’s not for me. This review actually confirmed everything I thought would happen in this book so thanks and awesome review! πŸ™‚

  4. I really love your review, Ashley! Reading it, I’ve actually noticed a lot of things that bugged me about it, and I’m a lot more hesitant to read Just One Year, although I probably won’t read it straight away.
    One of the things I did love about this was all the Shakespeare references because I’m a massive Shakespeare nerd, so I obviously adored those parts.

    Lucy @ Queen of Contemporary recently posted: Currently Reading #2
  5. This is an amazing letter to Lulu. I liked the book a lot, but I had to look past her being whiny post the one day. And I didn’t connect with Willem as much as I wish I had. That said, I just finished Just One Year, which is Willem’s story, and it made me like him a lot a LOT more, more than I anticipated I’d like him.

    1. Glad to hear that you ended up liking Willem in book 2! I imagine book 1 was purposely designed to make you think he’s an ass but really there’s a whole lot more to the story to explain all the assumptions away.

      Just my guess anyway.. πŸ˜€ I’m not sure if I will read Just One Year though. πŸ™

      1. Honestly, I liked Just One Year more than I liked Just One Day, probably because of Allyson and how annoying she was after Paris. But I didn’t LOVE either of them in the same way I’ve loved a bunch of other books recently.

  6. Ooh may God.. I love your review..seriously that’s what I thought when I read this book.. I love the letter ????

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