Review: Just One Year by Gayle Forman


Rating: 5/5 stars
Pub Date: October 10, 2013
Publisher: Dutton Children's
Genre: young adult/new adult contemporary romance
Format/Source: ARC, giveaway prize from The Young Folks (thanks, Gabrielle!!!)
Status: sequel to Just One Day


Summary:
The heartrending conclusion—from Willem’s POV—to the romantic duet of novels that began with Allyson’s story in Just One Day

After spending an amazing day and night together in Paris, Just One Year is Willem’s story, picking up where Just One Day ended. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.


Review:
After reading Just One Year, I feel completely satisfied. It's like the feeling I get after the first serving on Thanksgiving: I feel full but not stuffed. Usually I proceed to continue to stuff my face with deliciousness, but in this case, I'm good. Trilogies are taking over the publishing world, but as they say, there are two sides to every story, and Gayle Forman has mastered the ability to tell both sides in full in only two books. It's miraculous!

Just One Year jumps back to That Day. Well, the day after That Day. Willem is in the hospital, and because he has a bit of a head injury, he doesn't remember Allison. When you've only known someone for one day, no matter how life-shattering that day is, no matter how inmportant that person is, if you take a spill that temporarily wipes out your short term memory, you won't remember that person. Of course, Willem does eventually remember Allyson but by the time he escapes the hospital, he's SOL because 1. she's long gone, and 2. he only knows her as Lulu.

Now, I know some of you may be incredulous as to the fact that Allison never got around to telling Willem her real name. Let's flash back to High School Mary. She once met a handsome boy from a rival high school's marching band. They met on a Saturday night after a competition and spent hours talking. They never exchanged names. HSM (High School Mary, not High School Musical) was sad. However, fortuitously, their football teams played very next Friday, and they met once more. This time, they exchanged names and then, through a mutual friend, numbers. They then proceeded to date for about two and a half months until it was no longer new and exciting, and the 40-minute distance overcame their mutual feelings of admiration and like-like. *sigh* L'amore. So easily broken by distances between Holland and New York or even just two suburbs. So as you can see, I believe this premise whole-heartedly.

What I really like about this duology is that it really explores Allyson and Willem as people, not just their relationship. Most romances describe how the couple gets together. Very few detail the staying-together part. I think that's why books like JOD and JOY and Katie Cotugno's debut How to Love are so exciting. These stories do showcase the getting-together part, but they also show how hard life can make it to stay together. These stories show the ugly side, which is the leaving part, and then the bulk describes how the characters grow, how they morph, and how they attempt to find one another once more. It's lovely.

Willem at the beginning of Just One Day is not the same as the Willem at the beginning of Just One Year. He is not the same in the middle either, nor at the end. This novel is so heartbreaking because the boy we met in Allyson's story was a goofy, cocky, charming young man who seems extraordinarily carefree. The boy in Just One Year, in contrast, is broken both body and soul. He's actually got very deep emotional scars in addition to the physical ones he acquired in Paris. Willem is lost in place and in time. He doesn't seem to really fit anywhere, which is why he travels so much. However, he even loses that, and it's like his entire being pales. He becomes someone less. Then, slowly, through the novel, he evolves as he tries to get himself back. He travels through Paris, the Netherlands, Mexico, and India looking for pieces of himself almost more than he's looking for Allyson.

When reading Just One Day, I identified with Allyson's story as a girl who was trying to grow into a woman, but I actually went through that part of my life years ago. Now, while reading Just One Year, I found myself identifying more with Willem. A few years ago, I had some traumatic family turbulence, like Willem, and it truly crushed me. It's something I still haven't dealt with entirely, even though I've had time, just as Willem has. I often feel like I don't have a place in this world, that I am unwanted, and those are demons Willem has to face. Every part of me ached in solidarity with each blow Willem is dealt. Gayle is brilliant because she brings these ugly truths to light, but she does it in a kind way. Thus, they don't feel quite so ugly. Just One Day explores the notion that people love differently, and even the people close to us can feel like strangers if we don't accept the way that they love us and they don't accept the way we love them.

If you have not read Just One Day or Just One Year, I recommend them highly. Can two people with so little in common find their way back to one another? Or should they just accept one perfect day with a near-stranger and move on? You'll have to find out for yourself. No, seriously. Go read it. Now.

Book Links:
   

About the Author: 
Gayle Forman is an award-winning author and journalist whose articles have appeared in such publications as Jane, Seventeen, Glamour, Elle, and The New York Times Magazine, to name just a few. She lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Author Links:
   
Links:
Just One Year on Goodreads
Gayle Forman official website 

Giveaway:
I know, I know. I'm kind of going crazy with the giveaways right now. Guys, I have a lot of books I need to pass on to others. This was meant to go a few weeks ago, but I kept putting off my review. My bad. So here goes: Open to US & Canada. All giveaway policies will be enforced upon pain of disqualification. Those policies can be found in full in the Review & Site Policies tab at the top of the page. One winner will receive a paperback copy of Just One Day. Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

30 comments:

  1. I'd probably choose to spend it in Sydney, Australia because its such a fun and exciting city! Thanks for the giveaway!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sydney is ABSOLUTELY on my list of places to go in my life, Kristi. I've been obsessed with Australia for YEARS. Great pick!!

      Delete
    2. Australia isn't just on my bucket list it IS my bucket list.

      Delete
  2. Dublin, Ireland. Tim and I both are of Irish descent and that just seems like one of the perfect cities for us. Plus he'd enjoy touring the Guinness factory. I'd enjoy going back and just being able to remember it!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anywhere in Northern Europe!!! Paris, London, Vienna...I cannot think of a more romantic place to have a date with your special one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally with you, Mina! I want to go there too!

      Delete
  4. I would love to spend a day in Venice, Italy or London. I can't really decide because both just seem so brilliant and beautiful. I would probably make a last minute decision like Allyson. Completely compulsive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry to burst your bubble, but Venice is just...not what it's cracked up to be, Sarah. It's expensive, dirty, and smelly. I recommend Florence, Rome, or coastal Italian cities/towns as good alternatives. Venice is still cool because, hello, Italy, but don't just go there and that's it. Visit a couple of cities at least to really get your money's worth.

      Delete
  5. PS Something I forgot with mine. The girl TOTALLY looks like Mary from Downton Abbey!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh. I'm so upset her name is Mary. I'm a Sybil fangirl, myself.

      Delete
  6. Definitely Northern Europe or Sydney, Australia. Too many places!

    ReplyDelete
  7. That would take some deep deep thought.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I had to pick just one, I'd have to think hard about it too!

      Delete
  8. Probably somewhere in America because I'm not too much of a traveler

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's okay. Plenty of cool places to go here, too!

      Delete
  9. Just One Day gave me such a bad case of wanderlust!
    Dying to spend some time in Paris!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't think wanderlust could ever really be a bad thing. I hope to go there one day too!

      Delete
  10. Paris because I've always wanted to go there. :D

    ReplyDelete
  11. Europe somewhere/anywhere (Paris, London, Scotland, Rome, Greece, Ireland, Germany, etc)? I just love historic places, so there's that too. And Australia/NZ. And Japan. And Turkey. And heck, California. Also, I'd love to show my best friend NYC for the first time. And I love Rio, so I'd go back there. Basically, I just want to travel a lot...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nothing wrong with that! I'd love to go all those places!

      Delete
  12. London! It is my favorite place in the entire world. I would love to take someone special because it means so much to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, hopefully you will get that opportunity! My parents have been together, and I hope to do so one day as well!

      Delete
  13. I would go to Europe as well, because I've always wanted to go Paris, London, and Greece. I just feel like that would be so much fun, and I love sightseeing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never thought about Greece as a travel destination until I read Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and then it got bumped up the list. Yes, I'm that much of a book nerd. :)

      Delete
  14. Awesome review! This is one of my favourites of this year :)

    ReplyDelete
  15. I enjoyed this more than I thought I would because I heard some really mixed reviews. I don't understand Forman's habit of writing a companion novel from the boy's perspective for what could be stand-alone novels, but I ended up liking this one more than Just One Day. I had a hard time with Allison and her level of privilege, even though I did relate to her on some level.

    I'm torn about where this novel ended and I go back and forth between loving her decision and shaking my fist at it. Oh well.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I've read both her duologies (I loved If I Stay and am excited for the movie) and hope she writes more as it's a nice change from trilogies and lengthy series. I'm excited for Just One Night to come out later this month. <3

    ReplyDelete