Review - Just One Day - Gayle Forman

Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)Title: Just One Day
Series: Just One Day #1
Author: Gayle Forman
Publication: January 10th 2013, Random House
Pages: 369 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to RandomStruik for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4/5 Cupcakes!
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.
I've heard nothing but good things about Gayle Forman's novels. I've had Just One Day sitting on my TBR pile for a while and I decided to pick it up as it felt like a summer's day and I wanted to sink my teeth into a heart-warming, light-hearted contemporary. However, Just One Day was deeper and more intense than I realised and the ending was completely and utterly heart-breaking. And I loved it! Just One Day was a fantastic and I'm eager to begin reading the sequel, Just One Year, straight away!

Just One Day is about good girl, eighteen year old Allyson Healey who goes on a tour to Europe (her high school graduation gift from her parents) and on the last day of a tour, she meets a boy and does something completely out of her character - she decides to go to Paris with him, for just one day. As they explore the cobbled streets of Paris, Allyson "Lulu", starts to fall in love with Willem and she believes that their could be a genuine connection between  them. They spend the night together and the next day Allyson wakes up - alone. Willem is gone, she never got his cellphone number or his email address and there is no way to contact him and she returns to America feeling depressed, heart-broken and utterly confused. As she begins college and sinks deeper and deeper into depression, she, and her friends soon realise they need to do something ASAP. Allyson decides that she needs to look for what she lost and go back to Paris. Doing that, she can receive the answers she desperately needs.

I really enjoyed this book! I love books that explore the feeling of wanderlust and going on journeys physically and mentally and not only embarking on an adventure, but also embarking on the rollercoaster ride of self-discovery. It explores the side-effects of coincidences and the amount your life can change in just a matter of 24 hours. It delves deeper into the meaning of true love and finding your real identity - basically, this book was exactly the kind of book that I like to read.

I think that a lot of people will read this book and scoff Allyson, they'll think she's crazy for going off with him in the first place (I agree) and they'll probably scoff her for falling in love with a guy she barely knows and who she only spent one day with. I, however, thought it was a fantastic story and I really sympathize for Allyson as it's not something someone should have to go through. This book wasn't definitely one that is deeper and more heart-breaking than you would think when going into it, but I loved reading this book and it conveyed such emotions within me. I felt happiness, anger, sadness, disbelief, love and hate and these emotions all intermingled and it created such a wonderful reading experience.

When I was first introduced to Allyson, I liked her. She is a good girl and everyone knows that, she received As in all her AP classes and always did the right thing, most of this being to please her parents who she feels like who she is never enough for. Her mom controlled her throughout middle-grade and high-school and Allyson is enjoying the fact that she can finally begin to live her own life, even though she is unsure of that at first. I really enjoyed watching Allyson's self-discovery, her change was evident throughout the book and at the end I was happy about the person she became. An independent person who was confident and self-assured and was willing to take risks and to live her own life. I loved watching her personal journey. She set out to find somebody and along the way she also ended up finding herself. It was just such a beautiful and heart-warming thing to watch, as well as quite a heart-breaking one. Being abandoned by this boy she thought she loved really ruined her confidence and she became so depressed and when she started trying to make herself happy instead of her parents I was cheerleading her on. I loved the new friend she made and I loved how they helped her out of this personal hell that she had somehow managed to fall into.

We don't actually get to know that much about Willem and too be honest, he irritated me and frustrated me and I wanted to slap him. I couldn't comprehend how he just left her like that. He was a player, that is evident from the hints that were dropped throughout the story and I was shocked several times towards the end. I think he has got an interesting backstory and I'm really excited to read from his point of view in the sequel. There were parts between him and Allyson that were really cute and funny and charged with chemistry and I wish there was more of them in the story. He was such a big part of it but we didn't actually see him that much, but maybe that was the intended effect as Allyson didn't actually know that much about him either but she felt that there was a chemistry between them that she couldn't deny.

The secondary characters were fantastic! I loved Babs and Dee and the minor characters that she meets travelling such as Wren and the Australian group and Wolfgang and Miss Foley. I didn't really care much for her best friend Melanie and she also frustrated me at times, as she could be quite hypocritical and attention seeking. I love Dee though, Allyson's gay friend - he is amazing! Him and Allyson meet when she starts taking Shakespearean classes and I love how they get to know each other and their study dates. He is just so exuberant and funny and he is just so sassy, he is such a phenomenal character and I wish there was more of him incorporated throughout the story.

I loved all the other minor characters who she met on her trip, they all played some role in the story, some crucial part in Allyson's story. They all somehow helped her in someway and it just added a more personal touch to the book.

I loved the whole storyline and whilst the first half of the book was more fun and fluffy, the second half was much more deeper and heart-wrenching. I can understand how happy and in love she must've felt that first day and then when she woke up to an empty place I could imagine the panic and betrayal she must've felt. The second half of the book was so much much fun to read! I loved reading about how Allyson starts choosing the college courses that she actually wants to take and tries to make herself happy. I loved how her and her mom slowly had to rebuild their relationship and it just made me so happy when Allyson felt that she could share more stuff with her parents, especially with the whole backstory of her mom and her inability to conceive. I loved watching how she worked at the cafe and the relationship she formed with Babs and the other employees and how everyone she told her story to would be so captivated by this and do the best they could to help her. I just absolutely adored this whole plot line and the characters.

The ending absolutely shattered me and I couldn't quite believe it, it's definitely a sort of cliffhanger and I am so excited to see what happens next.

Just One Day is a beautifully-crafted novel about being impulsive and the happiness, heartbreak and unexpected happenings that it can bring. It's about losing yourself to find yourself and the true meaning of falling in love and being in love. I love Gayle Forman's writing and I could really lose myself in the world that she created. The characters are realistic with flaws yet they all had redeeming qualities that made me fall in love with them all over again. I loved the kindness and happiness and the friendship that was placed in the story as well as the darker themes of first heartbreak. I loved how Shakespeare featured in this novel and it helped her grow more confident and be herself. Just One Day was a beautiful, moving novel of self-discovery and one that made me think of the true meaning of coincidence and chances.

I give it: 4/5 CUPCAKES!