Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Review: Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)

Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)
Author: Gayle Forman

A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay.

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.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

Published January 8th 2013.

Allyson is self-effacing, and if anything, ordinary. LuLu is enigmatic, and if anything, attractive. If Allyson rouses bland uninspired prose composed by pimply laboratory nerds, LuLu inspires an epic modern-day romance-- at least, enough for a striking boy-actor who can sprout Shakespeare to offer to bring her to the City of Lights (or Love. Or Fashion.) on the spur of the moment.

Well, here comes the interesting part, Allyson and LuLu are the same person.

I think the reason why this novel is such a tour de force in the contemporary genre is simple: it hits all the right notes with the readers. As I honestly can't find any other coherent way to convey how much I adore this book, I shall aim to do so in the most empirical way possible.

In terms of rhetorics, if Gayle Forman had aimed to persuade me to root for Allyson/LuLu and Willem, she succeeded beyond her wildest imagination with only half of the book -- the first half of the book is titled "One Day" and the second part, "One Year" -- using pathos and kairos.

In terms of pathos (appealing to my emotions), I almost cried at two points in this book. This isn't just some frothy novel about "a privileged girl having an epiphany away from home". No. It takes a philosophical and nuanced look at what it means when a girl finally comes of age in a transformative day in Paris -- understanding the differences between falling in love and being in love, surrendering herself to the accidents of fate and saying "yes", grabbing freedom at its knees and finally, realizing that the key to feeling always a little less than the whole of herself has never been about not knowing who she is, but knowing that and not wanting to be that person anymore

The messages packed here in that one day in Paris are just so powerful and self-empowering that Allyson's growth into LuLu and sudden loss of her newfound identity jars me. Her scenes with Willem make me dreamily doodle invisible hearts all around the book, but the abrupt end to the "One Day" section of the book is painful.

And that brings me to kairos, a look into the timeliness of plot lines, in the subsequent "One Year" after that fateful day in Paris. There are some magnificent flashes of Shakespeare in this section that cement my belief that Shakespeare must have been a most epic lover. Along with that, Allyson's transition into college life and her inner struggle between letting her parents down versus letting down herself pushes her to come to terms with that one day in Paris and how much she is willing to let it change her.

He showed me how to get lost, and then I showed myself how to get found.

I had thought the "One Day" section a triumphant portrayal of Allyson's growth, however, Allyson only truly blossoms in the second section of the book as she heads back once again to Paris, then across Europe, in search of Willem and a lost part of herself. And the way she collects clues to find her way back to him and misses him closely each time had my heart knotted into tangled strings -- oh, Gayle Forman, you have me in the palm of your hands.

Gayle Forman has the knack for looking into the hearts of her readers and showing us a side to us that we didn't know we had with astonishing simplicity. Undoubtedly my favourite contemporary of 2013, let me tell you one thing: if you have to fall in love with one book this year, let it be this one.

“You're just trying on different identities, like everyone in those Shakespeare plays. And the people we pretend at, they're already in us. That's why we pretend them in the first place.” 

Source: From the bookstore


  1. She Will Be Loved Maroon Five (here)
  2. Clarity Zedd ft. Foxes (here
  3. 사랑은 벌이다 (Love Is Punishment) K.Will (here
  4. Crazy In Love Jisun (here)
  5. How Long Will I Love You Ellie Goulding (here)

Hopefully, it seems quite obvious where each song fits! If you want to know specifically, feel free to email me!

Did you guys get wanderlust from reading this book? 



  1. I really liked JOD, I've been to all the places mentioned in the books and I think that Gayle does a great job of capturing the words and the essence of each place. I also for the most part get Lulu and Willem. Willem isn't my favorite Gayle guy but I do like him as a character.

    Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books

  2. I have been wanting to read this book for a while now.

    Once Upon A Dream Books

  3. I've been hearing so many great things about this book! mostly from you and wuyou ahem. if it's a book that can make you cry in public it's bound to be really really really good.

    And I was surprised initially, when I knew of how you loved this book so much. Because the plot sounds really run-of-the-mill: small-town girl and movie star falls in love -- I'm pretty sure Disney had a movie some years back along the same plotline... think it was called Starstruck.

    But I think I understand why you like it so much after reading this review. This book doesn't just revolve around the love story (though I am sure a fair portion of the story was dedicated to the romance part), but it also talks about a girl's coming-of-age, and I think that's something most readers can relate to, regardless of gender, age or whatever :-) I really really want to read it right now!!

    I love love love all the allusions to Shakespeare! I actually really like Shakespeare's works (no idea why there are people who don't :-( ) And teehee ms liu will be proud at how you utilised pathos and kairos ;-) she was the one who taught us about them when we were studying julius caesar (another shakespeare work yayyy), didn't she? :-)

    this might be one of the best books of the year, but I really think your review did it justice. definitely one of the best -if not the best- reviews you have ever written :-D

  4. I've seen this book everywhere but never really thought to give it a chance. I didn't like her If I Stay book that much, so I wasn't sure about reading another from her. I might try this one, though, because I've heard nothing but good things about it and your review pretty much sold me. So I might stop to pick it up! :P

    Sydney @ Utterly Bookish

  5. I haven't read this one but this sounds really AMAZING! I think I'll need to have a box of tissues handy.

  6. LOVE those quotes, great choice-they make me want to pick this one up ASAP. I've seen it around but now that I have read your review, wow.

  7. ANOTHER GAYLE FORMAN FAN!! :D I'm glad you enjoyed this one Sel! :3 I've been intending to pick it up, but I've had no time :( Love those quotes too! ;)
    Fantastic review Sel!! <33

  8. I haven't read anything by this author- but it sounds like a book I will love! I so enjoyed the quotes you shared and it was great to hear about the way the book was set up. I am definitely curious about it and hope to read it in 2014! Thanks for sharing- great review. :)

  9. AHHH YOUR REVIEW IS JUST MARVELOUS!!! I ADORE IT SO MUCH!! ♥♥♥ I saw so many iffy reviews of this book so then I just started putting off buying this book and then I lost the feeling to buy it and yeah--I WANTSS TO READ IT NAOW!!! XD


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