Can just one day be enough to change a person’s life? How about just one year? Oh man, Gayle Forman’s masterpieces (these two books right here) have left me with a lot of life questions, moments of smiles, laughter, tears, and even cursing with its simple yet plot and even more brilliant execution.
"Loving someone is such an inherently dangerous act. And yet, love, that's where safety lives." - Just One Year
*Spoiler warning as usual, my dear readers*
Where do I even begin to rant? God. Well for one thing, I immediately related to Allyson in that I always did the good girl routine. Obey your parents. Do what you want to do (or at least, what you think you want) but never forget to do what you’re expected to do. Embrace your safety zone. Do things predictably, according to plan, according to schedule. I really wasn’t big on the whole take risks thing. But, Allyson makes a giant leap the moment she decides to pass on that performance of Hamlet and take on a stranger (who happens to be incredibly charming and good-looking) and his offer of a performance like no other.
That meeting already sparks magic, but somehow, as if by workings of fate or simply put, as if by accident, Allyson finds herself in Paris with Willem. They spend one whole day together – and what a whirlwind day it was, so full of the unexpected – and somehow, they both end up so irreversibly, undeniably, and inevitably stained (Using a play on words here. Read these awesome books to get in on the language game!). The perfect guy and the perfect date in the most romantic city of the world. Sounds too good to be true? Well, yeah… Of course it is and life just won’t allow that. When Allyson wakes up the next morning, Willem is gone. The fairy tale is over.
And you’d think it’d be easy to get over a quick vacation fling. It isn’t the case with Allyson. What she had with Willem just didn’t feel like a fling. It was different. It was beyond anything she’s ever experienced before. So forget about moving on. Allyson spends the following year at first, trying to move on, but eventually learning that that really isn’t what she wanted. Self-discovery. Growth. Independence. Freedom. Allyson certainly gains a lot over those months and she achieves all these by working towards what she really wanted: to see him again.
Just One Day was so open-ended that I almost threw the book against the wall in frustration. Good thing I’m so meticulous when it comes to my babies that I don’t actually do that. I impatiently waited for the companion novel, Just One Year, to come out and well, here goes my ranting about that one…
Just One Year is Willem’s story. What happened to him when he left Allyson all alone that day in Paris. God, this guy is something else. For one thing, if you were going to leave a note, make sure that it’s somewhere she can see. Leave something of yours to show that you have intentions of coming back. And for heaven’s sake, a whole day passed by and you didn’t even consider asking for her real name? Freakin’ stupid! Even if you did intend for it to be just a one day thing, that was the least you could do! *insert uncharacteristically Angeli type of language here* Then again, if you’re suddenly faced with your true love, who can blame you for doing such a stupid thing? Forgetting to ask for her name and contact number… Tsk!
Anyhow, setting aside that unbelievably stupid fact that he didn’t have any means of contacting her, Willem (who apparently ended up at a hospital on that fateful day) spends the year searching for her. He does it both consciously and unconsciously, leading him to his own journey of self-discovery and growth. The perpetual adventure-goer who used to rely on mere accidents and the blowing of the wind for everything that happens in his life ends up realizing that he needed to take the wheel. That he couldn’t just rely on fate. That sometimes, he needed to step up and make life his own.
Gayle Forman’s writing is so beautifully done that I practically enjoyed travelling around Paris with Allyson and Willem on that one day, and around the world with Willem on that one year. She succeeds in conjuring questions in the reader’s head about life, love, decisions, dreams, family and yes, the self. You keep going back to that question, How can just one day be the cause of all this? And as the story progresses, you learn that sometimes, one day is more than enough to spark a change in a person’s life. One day can be enough to disprove everything you thought was true about yourself. One day can be enough to show you who you really are.
The ending (for both books) is bittersweet and though I wish for more Allyson and Willem moments, I would have to content myself (as they did) with their one day. I recommend these to anyone looking for an excellent change in today’s YA market and anyone prepared for a story that seems all too fictional but at the same time, a perfect mirror of what life can bring you once you learn to take risks, embrace accidents, follow the blowing of the wind and eventually, take the wheel into your own hands.
Personal Ranting: Wonder if I’ll ever have to backbone to do what Allyson did? Guess, we’ll never know. I’ll be waiting for my random Willem to show up and offer me that chance to take a risk. I only hope he isn’t such a womanizer. But, if a guy travels halfway around the world, to several countries even, looking for me, my God, no questions asked – it’s straight to the I DO’s!
"Part of me knows one more day won't do anything except postpone the heartbreak. But another part of me believes differently. We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day." - Just One Day