Surely Gayle Forman wasn’t planning to play with our emotions when she wrote Just One Day…right?
by Camille Cabugnason & Fiel Estrella
There was a time last month when around six friends—us included—were reading the same book at the same time. This book had been on our Waiting On lists for months, so naturally, we had to devour it immediately after it was made available. One of the perks of reading simultaneously with friends is that it’s easy to share thoughts and feelings with each other right away. You’re going through it together. All the swooning and laughter and marveling at great writing and setting-induced wanderlust and tears and (at times violent) reactions. And, alternately, more swooning and tears. That week, although we had varying degrees of progress on the book, we could all turn to each other every time said book broke our hearts and pulled them back together only to repeat the process. Like a book club, or, more accurately, a support group for those emotionally scarred by fiction, if you will.
That book is Just One Day by Gayle Forman (who you might be familiar with for writing the equally heart-wrenching If I Stay and its oodles more romantic, incredibly hot little brother—okay, sequel, and I say “brother” because it’s male POV, although that makes Mia and Adam sound like siblings so let’s say BOYFRIEND—Where She Went).
In Just One Day, the final night of all-American “good girl” Allyson Healey’s Europe tour group ends in England’s Stratford-upon-Avon, where they are to see Hamlet performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. However, Allyson and her best friend break off to see a street performance of Twelfth Night instead, in which 20-year-old Dutch actor-slash-vagabond Willem De Ruiter plays Sebastian and tosses a coin to Allyson. They are never to see each other again—until they do, on a train to London, no less. On impulse, Willem convinces Allyson—whom he has taken to calling Lulu after ’20s actress Louise Brooks—to go off the rails, forget the plan and have a day in Paris. Just one day. Just like that. And “Lulu” says yes. However, the day after an amazing, eventful time in Paris spent falling in love and possibly being in it (it makes sense in context), Allyson wakes up to find Willem gone. Now back in the States and in her first year of college, she spends the next months trying to find herself and reunite play-by-the-rules, trapped-in-life Allyson with the adventurous, free Lulu through Shakespeare and travel. And maybe, just maybe, she’ll come to find Willem again. Sort of like Before Sunrise meets Wanderlove meets, um, Europe.
In case that doesn’t convince you to read Just One Day, this is us trying harder. (It also doesn’t hurt that we just like discussing it and gushing over it and cursing it from time to time.) Here are our top eight reasons to read it:
In conclusion (AKA what we had to say, aside from a lot of cussing and sobbing and keysmashing):
“The fever still hasn’t faded. At first, I actually thought that this would just another novel. But reading it proved me wrong. Each time a new character enters a chapter, the more the story gets interesting. I’m quite sure that anyone who reads this novel will be enchanted and in love with every chapter. This is just an A+ book, because: a) Gayle Forman is just beyond perfection when it comes to writing novels, and b) this book actually made me cry. Literally. So I beg all of you, grab a copy of this book and discover Allyson’s story about her journey and adventures to self-discovery and true love.” -Camille
“Three words: Consider. Me. Stained.” -Fiel