People who know me really well know that my ‘dream occupation’—or at least the one I would write down in elementary school when the teacher asked what I wanted to be when I grow up—is being an author of young adult fiction. I’m always trying to improve as a writer, and most of the advice that published authors offer to aspiring writers is to read as much if not more than you write. So, while I do read classics, I also continue to read young adult fiction. For a long time my favorite two authors of young adult were Sarah Dessen and Kate Brian (pseudonym for Kieran Scott). About my junior year of high school, I become a true fan of only Sarah Dessen. But in the last year or so, I’ve added John Green to my “top YA fiction writers” list. Today, or should I say yesterday, I added Gayle Forman to the third line of my list.
When I met Sarah Dessen, she was handing out novels for correct answers to trivia questions, and the girl sitting next to me won Just One Day by Gayle Forman. The girl, Julie, told me that she had already read the novel, and loved it, but she had the hardcover edition, and thought the paperback edition would be easier to take to school with her or just carry around should she choose to reread the novel. So, I wrote down Gayle Forman on a slip of paper, stuck it in my newly autographed This Lullaby, and totally forgot about the book. But then one day, I was browsing Barnes and Noble, and there it was, sitting one row up from John Green, and one row down from Sarah Dessen: Just One Day. I had recently received a gift card from aunt, and so despite my already determined summer reading list, I grabbed if off the shelf and bought it, all 369 pages. I usually don’t like going against my reading list, but I felt like this book was one I needed to read immediately. So I did.
The novel is very interesting, and although the storyline isn’t completely original, the characters are likable, which, I think, is a vital component to a good book. The back of the book reads:
“When sheltered American good girl Allyson first encounters laid-back Dutch actor Willem at an underground performance of Twelfth Night, there’s an undeniable spark. So when fate brings them together a second time, Allyson takes an uncharacteristic leap, changes course, and follows Willem to Paris. After just one day together, the spark bursts into a flame…until Allyson wakes up after a whirlwind day shocked to discover that Willem is gone. A life upended in one day turns into a year of self-discovery as Allyson embarks on a journey to break free from a lifetime of limits in order to find her true passions, and maybe even true love.”
While the middle of the book lagged a little, the beginning and ending were strong. There is an element of urgency and mystery within the story that I really enjoyed, and Allyson shows that sometimes you have to lose yourself to find who you really want to be. Throughout the novel, I struggled about whether or not I wanted Allyson to find Willem, since they were only together one day, and maybe her image of him is different than what he is in reality. As I was reading, though, I could relate to Allyson wanting to find him because after only one day with him, she was different, she was the person she wanted to be and someone who she actually liked, unlike what she thought she should be to please those around her. Willem, as most foreign men appear, is beautiful, warm, fun, and spontaneous, and as I reader I immediately fell in love with him.
Allyson was a little too self-pitying for my taste through the middle of the novel, but she grows stronger as the novel progresses, which is good as far as character development. One thing that really bothered me about this novel was the number of typos I found. I’m usually forgiving about typos simply because I know it’s hard to catch every little thing, but this book had so many errors that it became distracting. Maybe a closer final edit for One More Year will solve this typo dilemma. The ending is a cliffhanger, so I am looking forward to One More Year to get answers to the questions I have from the ending of this novel!
Some quotes I found particularly striking were:
“Sometimes the best way to find out what you’re supposed to do is by doing the thing you’re not supposed to do.”
“Stains are even worse when you’re the only one who can see them.”
“I think everything is happening all the time, but if you don’t put yourself in the path of it, you miss it.”
“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.”
“But what if Shakespeare― and Hamlet― were asking the wrong question? What if the real question is not whether to be, but how to be?”
“This next kiss is the kind that breaks open the sky. It steals my breath and gives it back. It shows me that every other kiss I’ve had in my life has been wrong.”
“Sometimes you can only feel something by its absence. By the empty spaces it leaves behind.”
“There is a world of difference, Lulu, between falling in love and being in love.”
The amount of Shakespeare in this novel is ridiculous, but in a wonderful way. It seems a lot of story lines can somehow be compared to all of Shakespeare’s works, so I loved seeing this modern novel connect to Shakespeare, and all the identities and lovers he created. If you enjoy young adult fiction, or want to visit Europe (namely, Paris), but can’t afford a plane ticket, or perhaps if you want to have a love affair with an exotic Dutch guy, then I suggest you go pick up a copy of One More Day. The novel is a quick read, and keeps you turning the page until there are none left.