Just One Day by Gayle Forman | Review

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Dutton Juvenile

January 8, 2013

Series: Book one in the Just One Day duology

Just One Day by Gayle Forman follows the story of an 18 year-old girl Allyson, on tour with her best friend Melanie, in Europe. There, Allyson meets a charming Dutch boy, Willem, and he decides to take her on a one-day trip to Paris– just the two of them. After a series of events that causes her to end up alone, she returns home in the US, wondering where Willem went. As she starts school at her new college, she learns to find herself in the most unexpected way.

I have rather conflicting feelings about Just One Day. Mostly it was the beginning and middle where things were shaky, but by the end, I was completely and utterly satisfied. Nevertheless, I still had problems with this book, and I have to admit that I was a tad disappointed with Just One Day.

One of my first issues with entering Allyson’s story was the fact that I couldn’t connect with her. It’s always hard to explain why a reader doesn’t or isn’t able to connect with a character since it’s based solely on personal experiences, but in this case, Allyson was not relatable for me. She wasn’t a bad character, but she wasn’t exactly outstanding, either. Allyson does grow and there is some self-discovery going on (which I love), so my liking for her does get better, but the connection between me and her was a significant problem in the start. Additionally, the romance between Allyson and Willem wasn’t the strongest. It is technically a case of insta-love, since they do fall in love within a day in Paris. After Willem mysteriously disappeared, I didn’t understand why Allyson was so hung up on Willem, even after a year. I saw a bond between them, but not the strongest one.

I was also bothered by the way the Paris setting was executed. Don’t get me wrong, the Paris atmosphere that Forman told was gorgeous and extremely realistic, but the time that the characters  (Allyson and Willem) spent in Paris felt too much like a copy-cat of Anna and the French Kiss. I found myself constantly comparing the two stories, and I hated how similar it was. So, the general comment about the Paris setting: loved all of the imagery, but I disliked the intense similarity to Anna.

As the reader delves deeper into the novel, there comes a point where Allyson returns to the States, and this is where the story slows down. A lot. Even though tons of new characters are introduced in this section of the novel, I wasn’t particularly interested in any of them. It was quite boring to read about Allyson’s college life, also because she was sulky and dark the entire time.

It wasn’t until the last part of Just One Day that it started to pick up again. By this point, Allyson is set on doing what she wants to do: find Willem. The obstacles that she went through were highly entertaining and definite page-turners. Allyson meets even more characters; these characters I easily fell in love with, which probably added to my enjoyment factor. The ending wrapped up beautifully and it wasn’t until then that I realized what the entire middle section was for: the buildup for the conclusion. It was done quite masterfully, so this ended up being a redeeming factor.

In all, Just One Day was a let-down for me. There were so many factors that bothered me the entire time, and it wasn’t until the ending that really bumped it up a star for me. However, it is Gayle Forman, for which her writing definitely made this book a whole lot more enjoyable. From the main character and romance to the Paris setting, these were factors that left me disappointed. Luckily, the way the story wraps up is breathtakingly so, leaving the story on a good note. I’m not sure if I’m willing to pick up Just One Year, but since it’s Gayle Forman, I think just might.

RATING: 3.5 / 5 

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11 thoughts on “Just One Day by Gayle Forman | Review

  1. It's always really nice to get another perspective on a book that has SO many glowing reviews. I think I will pick this one up eventually just because I'm really curious about it (and now I'm curious to see how it compares to Anna…). But it's good to know that the middle is slow, even if it does get better in the end. Great review, Jen!

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  2. I, like you, had some conflicting feelings about this one, simply because of the hype. The way everyone was talking about this book, I expected it to be a gift from the stars or something, seriously. Even though I enjoyed this one a touch more than you did (although I still haven't written my review yet- yes, yes I know! Lazy Aneeqah is lazy), I had similar problems. I didn't really see the connection with this one and Anna, but maybe that's because I read that one a while ago. The romance is definitely insta-love, and I didn't quite see why Allyson was so infatuate with Willem. I was thinking that perhaps it was more of the IDEA of him, you know, being free and all, but when she went back for him, that was kind of proven wrong (yet proven right in the same way). My biggest problem was the middle. Can we just say DULL? Because it was so looooong and angstyyy and gah. I wished Allyson would perk up more and make me stop wanting to slap her, which finally, after like 200 hundred pages, happened. That was the definite low-light of the book for me, when I was wondering if I should push on through or just DNF it. I'm glad I kept going though, because the ending is really something.

    Gorgeous review, Jen! I plan on picking up Just One Year, because of my (stupid) curiosity, even with the flaws this one presented.

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  3. Finally! A review that DOESN'T deem Forman the Goddess of YA Contemporary Literature or something. Seriously, I was having some serious trouble believing that everyone like LOVED this book, and now that I've found someone with something else to say other than 'HOLY WOW', it's like a breath of fresh air, I tell you! 😉 I completely understand with what you said about not being able to connect with Allyson's character. Sometimes it's just impossible to do so, and even harder to explain why. YAY for character growth, but it must have been hard to get immersed in the novel without being able to empathise with Allyson's character. Ah, the romance. So many people feel the same way you do, and I have a feeling I'm not going to be too fond of Willem either! >.< Ooh but the second half of the novel sounds interesting! I'm curious about these entertaining obstacles in her way. O.O Lovely review, Jen! ❤ x

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  4. Aww, sorry to hear this one was a let down for you, Jen! I've only read really positive, raving reviews for this one, so it's always nice to see a different viewpoint. It's the worst when you find you can't relate to the MC – it definitely takes away from the overall reading experience even if there are a lot of other good stuff going on. I actually still need to read If I Stay and Where She Went, so I'll give those a go first and I'm sure I'll love Gayle Forman's writing like everyone else. Then I will give this one a go and hopefully I'll be able to connect with the MC… I guess we'll see! I really liked and appreciated this review, Jen!

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  5. Aww so sorry that you weren't able to enjoy this as much as you'd hoped Jen. I absolutely loved this book, but a lack of connection with the MC of a story would certainly knock a couple of stars off a book from me too. I really hope you decide to pick Just One Year up, I am personally dying to find out about Willem's side of things. Lovely review!

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  6. I haven't read anything by Gayle Forman, but this book of hers, much more than If I Stay/Where She Went, seems to be inspiring mixed reviews. It's a shame the story slows down so much when Allyson gets back in the states, but I'm glad it does at least pick up a bit in the end. I'm thinking this shouldn't be the book of hers I start with, but as always, I so enjoyed reading your thoughts Jen!

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  7. Honestly? This review was refreshing. After reading nothing but universal praise for this novel, it was extremely helpful to have someone write about this novel from a different perspective. I've never read any of Gayle Forman's work before, but I believe I will begin with If I Stay instead, as I'm not sure Just One Day is the sort of story for me, particularly after reading this review.

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  8. Great review! It's actually refreshing to read a non-raving review for this one as I tend to be the black sheep when it comes to books everyone seems to love. Not sure how I'd feel about the Paris setting bc I loved Anna and the French Kiss so I might get annoyed if I feel it's too copy-cat-ish. I guess we'll see. I have this one audiobook so I plan to listen to it soon. Great review, doll!

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  9. I had mixed feelings about this one, too. I absolutely loved If I Stay and Where She Went, but Just One Day just wasn't up to par. Totally agree how it seemed so similar to Anna. I found myself comparing the two while I was reading. And ohmygoodness Willem. I wanted to love him, like I really tried, but goodness it was difficult. And THE ANGST from Allyson. Really awesome review, Jen! And yay I'm so excited for your new blog 🙂 Sorry it took me this long to actually comment and follow.

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  10. I've seen so many glowing reviews on Just One Day but it was interesting to read your views on the book. It's a shame you didn't connect with Allyson and you didn't find the romance convincing. And I love self-discovery and character development in books so I'm glad that's a redeeming factor for you. Personally, I haven't read Anna and the French Kiss yet (I know, I know…) so I'm still hoping to get round to reading Just One Day.

    Thanks for the great but honest review, Jen ❤

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  11. Aww I'm sorry you didn't end up liking Just One Day. I can understand how not connecting with the character can bring a book down, but I really felt a connection with Allyson. Also, I really did like Willem & their romance, but bummer that you didn't like their insta-love. I totally get why you didn't love Just One Day. Great, honest review Jen!

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