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Novella Mini-Review: Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5) – Gayle Forman

Novella Mini-Review: Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5) – Gayle FormanTitle: Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5) by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: May 29, 2014 by Penguin
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary, New Adult, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: June 4, 2014
Related Posts: If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Sisters in Sanity, If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), I Was Here, Leave Me, I Have Lost My Way

After spending one life-changing day in Paris with laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter, sheltered American good girl Allyson “Lulu” Healey discovered her new lover had disappeared without a trace. Just One Day followed Allyson’s quest to reunite with Willem; Just One Year chronicled the pair’s year apart from Willem’s perspective. Now, back together at last, this delectable e-novella reveals the couple’s final chapter.

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I’m sorry, Gayle. I know. I know you completed JUST ONE YEAR exactly how you wanted it, and exactly how you meant to end it… but for the love of all that is sacred in the world, THANK YOU for giving us JUST ONE NIGHT.

JUST ONE NIGHT was just what I needed. If only… if only this little bit really could have been at the end of JUST ONE YEAR. I really didn’t need much. Just a few sentences. Just the catching up. Just the tiny bit of closure and thank goodness Gayle gave us JUST ONE NIGHT. My only regret is that it wasn’t at the end of JOY because the fact that it ended so abruptly honestly made me a bit ragey and a bit sad. It did affect me overall opinion of that book so my only regret is that we didn’t get this closure at the same time.

As a novella, JUST ONE NIGHT was a breath of fresh air… Or rather, the giant breath all of us were holding in waiting for the resolution of Willem and Allyson’s story and the hint at their futures. It felt a bit odd to be in third person since the books were in first person (they were, right?) but I definitely understand the reasoning since we kept switching back and forth between Willem and Allyson for the novella. We had to get everything in and all at once so the dual POVs in third person were sort of necessary so the reader didn’t have to constantly flip-flop back and forth between POVs. Sometimes it just switched on a dime and that would have just been a headache!

The best part? (Aside from the closure…) Revisiting these characters I thought I had said goodbye to. And seeing more of the secondary characters. AND seeing the stories line up again. And Willem and Allyson finally talking about all of their “almosts” that absolutely killed me in JUST ONE YEAR. (Okay, okay, I had a lot of “best parts”.)

Anyway. As you can see, I just NEEDED this novella, so thank you to Gayle who made this happen! I think all of us readers can sleep a little bit easier after JUST ONE NIGHT.

Just One Year (Just One Day #2) – Gayle Forman

Just One Year (Just One Day #2) – Gayle FormanTitle: Just One Year (Just One Day #2) by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: October 10, 2013 by Penguin
Source: Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: New Adult, Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: October 5, 2013
Related Posts: If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Sisters in Sanity, If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5), I Was Here, Leave Me, I Have Lost My Way

Just One Day. Just One Year. Just One Read. Before you find out how their story ends, remember how it began.... When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn’t know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren’t fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he’d thought. . . . The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents that happen—and the happiness we can find when the two intersect.

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** Caution: If you have not read JUST ONE DAY yet, there will be spoilers for that story. This review for JUST ONE YEAR is as spoiler-free as I can make it and I reveal no SPECIFIC details but there are some strong feels so if you haven’t read the book yet, just beware! **

JUST ONE YEAR was a very different read for me than JUST ONE DAY and I really contribute that to the fact that it felt much more like a personal journey and much more of a personal struggle for Willem than it had been reading Allyson’s story. I feel like the reason for that was that Allyson was going through so many transitions at once — from high school to college, from Europe to home, from sheltered to wanderer — whereas Willem, although already a constant traveler, felt much more stuck in his life. He seemed much more lost, unsure of where to go and what to do and was already in the thick of it when he met Allyson. Allyson hadn’t realized her life needed a change UNTIL she met Willem so for her, I felt much more of the romantic attachment — especially since her story changes with the encounter with Willem and Willem’s story starts after his meeting with Allyson had already come and gone.

Of course I had been dying to hear Willem’s side of the story ever since JUST ONE DAY, and I found it really fascinating. Willem’s story sort of unfolded much more like a mystery to me. We slowly got to find out the secrets of his past that had shaped his life as well as the way he interacted with Allyson (and the various girls he met in Paris). I really, really appreciated getting to know Willem more and finding out about his family. We knew nothing of his parents except their names in JOD and it was so bittersweet to learn about his relationship with both of them and exactly where that relationship stood at the beginning of JUST ONE YEAR, not to mention how his relationship changed towards the conclusion of the book as well.

JUST ONE YEAR wasn’t as emotionally moving or particularly as life-changing as JUST ONE DAY had been simply because it was an entirely different journey that we were on. Of course I had identified with Allyson as the “good girl”, aiming to please her parents and please others so I just connected more with her journey on a personal level than I had with Willem — But that’s not to say that I didn’t feel for Willem because I really did feel his pain, his loneliness, his sense of just feeling a little lost and I appreciated the changes he went through as well.

The biggest thing that struck me about JUST ONE YEAR were all those “almost”s — all the “missed connections” — and that absolutely killed me. Just to see how close he and Allyson came to crossing paths — the attempts to find each other and the pure chances were incredibly surprising! But as we know from Allyson’s side of the book, they never do end up meeting until her story in JUST ONE DAY concludes, leaving us with Allyson at Willem’s front door. To watch all of Willem’s attempts to find her or run into her, though, just was so heartbreaking. She really had an impact on him and even though I knew they wouldn’t meet up again until that moment, I secretly kept hoping for there to be a chance meeting!

 ** Strong feels ahead about the ending of this book that may be spoilery if you haven’t finished this book yet! Just a kind word of warning 🙂 **

So the ending. We already know that the end of JUST ONE DAY ends with Allyson at Willem’s door step but we don’t know where it goes from there and it takes us a while to get back to that point because obviously we have to find out Willem’s side of what happened after he and Allyson separated in Paris. I won’t say exactly HOW the book ends, but I cannot write this review and omit the fact at how disappointed I was with it. I want to say I can understand Gayle’s choice to end the book like this… But I really can’t. (Spoilers on the specifics of the ending below… Do not click if you haven’t read the book.)

View Spoiler »

After finishing the book and ending the way it did… I was honestly enraged. I felt let down. Abandoned in the middle of this story. And I HATED that I was mad. I really enjoyed the whole book up until that point and I couldn’t believe it ended like that. I legitimately felt a little bit betrayed that I had been so emotionally invested in the ending for these two characters and that was the way we left them. I may have been spoiled by how perfectly WHERE SHE WENT ended because I absolutely loved that whole book, cover to cover, but I didn’t quite understand why JUST ONE YEAR had to end like that.

I wanted this to be a series I could rave about, shove in the hands of friends, jump up and down with, hug!!!! But the ending left me feeling so confused and emotionally raw — I had a serious book hangover, but not quite in a good way. I thought about this for HOURS after I finished reading and my feelings have settled a little bit, but I’m still upset with the way this book ended and I can’t deny that if affected how I feel about this book as a whole. I will still recommend the read but just a word of warning to the readers that you may be in for shock and rage in the last chapter.

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Willem de Ruiter // Character Obsessions: Finding Lulu, traveling, trying to make connections, acting.
Willem was an interesting character to follow throughout JUST ONE YEAR. I actually really liked getting to know him more and seeing all of the secrets — or simply things he didn’t outright say — that Allyson had missed. I appreciated his character so much more and he really came to life more. I think he was flawed, but his run in and day in Paris with Allyson set him on a new course to realize that maybe he had been stuck in a rut and she turned him on to parts of himself he didn’t know were buried so deep in his soul. There really were kind of soul mates — not just romantically — but that they each brought out a new, better side of each other.

I kind of don’t even want to talk about other characters because Willem is such a vagabond and such an transient character that he doesn’t stay in one place — physically or emotionally — long enough for these people to make lasting impressions. Oh, they do make lasting impressions, mentally and emotionally, but their physical presence isn’t as prominent in Willem’s life and he doesn’t always realize the impact these people have, sometimes not until they are long gone from his life.
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Kept Me Hooked On: Fate. There’s a serious question about fate, chances, and intentions in JUST ONE YEAR and how much is really and truly left up to chance. I really enjoyed seeing Willem figure out what he needed to leave up to fate and what was impacted directly by his choices and intentional decisions.
Left Me Wanting More: Of an ending. I think after that review, it goes without saying. Sorry, Gayle.

Addiction Rating
Read it.

I can’t NOT suggest you read this — If you’ve read JUST ONE DAY, you need to see how things happen in JUST ONE YEAR, but just be prepared for a bit of a shock of an ending, I suppose. I know lots of people who totally and completely loved it and weren’t fazed by the ending at all. I know of others who were totally shocked and so disappointed that it ruined the entire experience for them. I think it’s a necessary read to finish out the duo of books and if you’ve got a copy of JUST ONE DAY, you probably need it to finish out your book collection anyway, amirite?

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BOOKS LIKE JUST ONE YEAR

(Click the cover to see my review!)

          The Beginning of Everything     Meant to Be

Re-read: Just One Day (Just One Day #1) – Gayle Forman

Re-read: Just One Day (Just One Day #1) – Gayle FormanTitle: Just One Day (Just One Day #1) by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: January 8, 2013 by Penguin
Source: Anderson's Bookshop
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary, New Adult, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: October 2, 2013
Related Posts: If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Sisters in Sanity, If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5), I Was Here, Leave Me, I Have Lost My Way

Allyson Healey's life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life. A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the “accidents” of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know. The first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

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Pretty much ever since I finished JUST ONE DAY, I had been dying for a re-read. Between this book and IF I STAY/WHERE SHE WENT, it was really the reason I started the Gayle Forman Read Along — I needed a good, solid reason to re-read when I was drowning in books I still haven’t read. Ever since I first finished JUST ONE DAY back in December of last year, I felt like I NEEDED to read it again. I had connected with it so much the first time around but I needed to reach out and make that connection again. I needed to fall in love and get heartbroken all over again. I needed to remember what was so special about this book for me.

I think one of the most interesting things about re-reading this book was that it was RIGHT after I had met Gayle Forman. (I died. I was SO nervous.) I was actually a bit thrown off by her speech at the Anderson’s YA Lit conference because she talked about JUST ONE DAY and JUST ONE YEAR more as Allyson and Willem’s journeys of finding and discovering themselves more than any part of this romance and I was like, “WHAT!? Gayle, you’re crazy! These are hands down love stories.” (Okay, I didn’t actually say that.) Obviously they’re still love stories and hi, I swoon. I melt. But hearing that from Gayle and then re-reading JUST ONE DAY (which I had actually just started before that conference) had totally changed how I viewed this book — in a good way.

I’m just going to come out and say it: I’m a review buffer. I knew I loved Gayle Forman and I knew I did love reading JUST ONE DAY… But… I don’t think I knew exactly WHY I was giving it five stars my first read around except for the fact that I wanted to. I knew I felt a connection, but I didn’t exactly know specifically why other than the fact that I knew I was going to love it. The magic of re-reading JUST ONE DAY opened my eyes to everything that I wasn’t sure of the first time around. I knew that JOD was not only about Allyson & Willem but also about Allyson’s self-discovery and that was just SO much more apparent to me this time around. Allyson didn’t just fall into a depression after her Europe trip because of Willem — she missed that part of herself that was free and independent and fulfilling. I think I passed up a lot of those moments when I first read this book because I was looking for a heart-breaking romance and I missed one of the main points of the book.

I also really got to appreciate all of the Shakespeare references and allusions so much more. Not like I’ve brushed up on my Shakespeare since my last read, but I think that re-reading, I was less anxious to get to the end and see what happens (since I already knew), so I got to really take my time and drink up every single word on the page. I read into the Shakespeare ties and saw exactly how much these plays paralleled what was going on in Allyson’s life as well. There were so many underlying themes that I appreciated so much more the second time around and I was kind of fascinated how closely the book followed these themes in the selected Shakespeare plays!

JUST ONE DAY was exactly what I needed before I started the much-anticipated JUST ONE YEAR. It also rekindled my thirst to write for which I cannot thank Gayle enough. Her writing is truly an inspiration to me and on a personal note, it’s made my WIP feel like a real book for the first time when before it was just random paragraphs that had little cohesiveness. It was such a pleasure to read this book again and create an even deeper connection than I had before!

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Allyson/”Lulu” // Character Obsessions: Time, responsibility… Paris, Lulu.
I absolutely connected with Allyson during my first read but I made such a deeper connection with her this time around. I had totally identified with her in regards to meeting, falling in love with, and then losing Willem, but I got to experience her personal journey of self-transformation so much more in my re-read. I ended up feeling so proud of the changes she made to her own life to finally make herself happy instead of trying to be the “good girl” and please everyone else. It’s something I STILL struggle with in my own life so it was really great to see her character make this sort of full transformation.
Willem De Ruiter // Character Obsessions: Lulu, ladies, traveling, being a free spirit.  
I probably shouldn’t have liked Willem as much as I did the first time around because even though Allyson may have been the tiniest bit paranoid, she really wasn’t that far off. Willem has a lot of ladies. Of course, none of them were the connection he had with Allyson, but even still, he was kind of a ladies’ man and/or player soooo. There’s that. But I think I always knew that Allyson was the catalyst that started his change as well, even though we didn’t really know Willem in JUST ONE DAY since we only had Allyson’s side of the story. I think I just had a lot of hope for him and I could feel that he was changing with her just as she was changing with him.
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Kept Me Hooked On: Shakespeare. I still haven’t read much Shakespeare (okay, I haven’t read ANY since high school), but I loved the way it blended into this book. Allyson’s life sort of parallels those themes from As You Like It and select other plays and it really make Shakespeare more accessible to me. It made me WANT to read these plays. There was a statement somewhere in the book about transcending from the words to the feelings in the plays and when you make that emotional connection, you sort of gloss over the language and it all becomes accessible and I’ve always been so held up by the language and technicality of it that I was afraid to go back and try again. I think I’d really like to try to read As You Like It now that I know more about it from JUST ONE DAY and see if I can make that connection as well.
Left Me Wanting More: Of Willem’s story, obviously. I quickly resolved that by reading JUST ONE YEAR, of course, but honestly, when I first read JUST ONE DAY, I did rate it five stars but still felt the tiniest bit of SOMETHING missing. Re-reading it, I felt like I really connected on all levels and it just made me fall in love with it in so many more ways than I already had.

Addiction Rating
BUY IT!

If you’re already read JUST ONE DAY, I highly suggest re-reading this one. I think going back through it helped me pick up so much more of those underlying themes and “missed connections”, if you will. If you haven’t read it yet, I really suggest it! (Clearly!)

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE JUST ONE DAY

(Click the cover to see my review!)

          The Beginning of Everything            Anna and the French Kiss

Just One Day (Just One Day #1) – Gayle Forman

Just One Day (Just One Day #1) – Gayle FormanTitle: Just One Day (Just One Day #1) by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: January 8, 2013 by Penguin
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary, New Adult, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // GoodreadsDate Completed: December 9, 2012
Related Posts: If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Sisters in Sanity, If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5), I Was Here, Leave Me, I Have Lost My Way

Allyson Healey's life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she’s not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson’s life. A book about love, heartbreak, travel, identity, and the “accidents” of fate, Just One Day shows us how sometimes in order to get found, you first have to get lost. . . and how often the people we are seeking are much closer than we know. The first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

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Given it’s Gayle Forman, I don’t think it would have been possible for me to give it any less than five stars regardless, but JUST ONE DAY truly deserves it and earned a special place in my heart, as all Gayle’s books do. It was definitely an emotional roller coaster and even though nothing close to the events that play out in the book have happened to me, then sentiment is just the same: falling in love, doubting how fast those feelings come on, fear of rejection, being rejected, and the quest to find the answers WHY. I can honestly say I’ve been through those exact situations and felt those feelings far too many times in my own teen/college years and I was right there with Allyson as she fell in love and then felt her heart break over and over again. I don’t know what more to say about the book except that I hope whoever reads this feels the same way I did – Totally invested, totally connected with the characters. I think if you’ve ever felt that way in a relationship (or non-relationship in some cases) that I think you’ll easily fall right into step with the characters that Gayle Forman creates.

It’s also further proof that I can actually read books set in foreign countries. Clearly before the select contemporary romances that I had read this year, I was not reading the right books. I’ve never been to Europe, but through the beautiful writing of Gayle Forman and several other contemporary writers, I’ve never felt more at home in Paris, London, Amsterdam, and various other sections of Europe. To me, that really says a lot, and I think the reason why is that I wasn’t just getting descriptions of events that happened here and there – It was an emotional connection to that canal, that house, that park that made it feel like a place I could see myself. I have a tendency to tie places back to feelings and that was something that was expertly written in Just One Day.

Of course I recommend it to anyone and everyone. I’ll recommend Gayle’s books to people until the end of time and there’s something so timeless about not only her writing but the way she writes her characters. I feel like even in 10 years when new generations pick up her books, they won’t feel dated. I’m sure some minute details like the technology of whatever cell phones turn into in 10 years may be outdated, but only slightly so because the focus is almost entirely on the feelings that Allyson experiences and the universal message that she not only learns for herself, but that the readers can pick up about their own lives as well.

And the end – AH! I feel like I’ll definitely read this book a few times before I can get my hands on Willem’s side of the story. I know it may feel like a long way from now, but maybe like the characters, I can wait JUST ONE YEAR.

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Allyson/Lulu: What I loved so much about JUST ONE DAY is that we see Allyson go through this incredible personal transformation and realization that her life isn’t what she wants it to be, all stemming from the adventure and whirlwind romance she had with Willem in Paris. Going one step further, I absolutely, positively loved that she had a perfectly normal life — not affected by an accident, a disease, a death — and it’s like the whole Paris experience with Willem allowed her to see that her perfectly normal life really wasn’t hers at all. It was a ghost of her mother’s life, her friend’s life, all fitted together like perfect pieces of a puzzle so that until she stepped back and looked at the puzzle as a whole, she couldn’t tell how broken and fragmented it really was (wow, maybe I should be writing my own novel here haha). I just loved that we got this amazing story out of what seemed so ordinary and entirely relatable.
Allyson was also extremely relatable to me in the sense that she’s not sure how she really feels about Willem. Did she fall in love with him? Is it even possible to love someone, to miss someone, to care about them that much after one day? I’ve felt that way many times myself with unrequited crushes and after things turn south, I started to question all my feelings. How real could they have been if they didn’t seem to be reciprocated? Was I making a big deal out of nothing? Was I being over-dramatic and romanticizing everything that happened or were my feelings actually justified? These are all the questions that Allyson agonizes over and I was right there with her. Gayle Forman did a fantastic job of allowing the readers to experience all of these emotions with Allyson as she tries to figure out what’s real and what was just an act.
Willem: Willem is definitely an enigma throughout the book and as painful as it was to witness, I loved that I didn’t really get a clear picture of him, as seen through Allyson’s eyes. It’s true of any guy, really. You’d like to think you know what their best intentions are, how they feel about you, but there’s always that lingering doubt. The attraction between Willem and Allyson is obviously real and they had a very real series of moments in Paris, but when that’s gone, the doubt sets back in but the readers are still left with the pull back to Paris, left wanting to believe that it was all real. I wanted to believe that Willem really did have good intentions with Allyson, but situation after situation pops up and the readers are left with a tangled mess of head versus heart. When it comes down to it, his flaws are what make him a truly believable character and really drive the story. 

QUOTES

Please note all quotes are from the ARC of Just One Day. Exact wording and page numbers subject to change. 

p85: “‘I think you’re the sort of person who finds money on the ground and waves it in the air and asks if anyone has lost it. I think you cry in movies that aren’t even sad because you have a soft heart, though you don’t let it show. I think you do things that scare you, and that makes you braver than those adrenaline junkies who bungee-jump off bridges.'”
(EEP!)

p89: “‘Did you just quote Shakespeare to a cop?’ I asked.”

p104-105: “There’s such a delicious surrender in the words, and I feel myself slipping away to him. Some small part of me warns against this. This is just one day. I am just one girl. But the part that can resists, that would resist, I woke up finally liberated of her.”

p125: “He said that earlier, about accidents, about never know which one is just a kink in the road and which one is a fork, about never knowing your life is changing until it’s already happened.”

p130: “Another day. That’s all I’m asking. Just one more day. I can’t think beyond that. Beyond that, things get complicated.”

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Buy it… ASAP!

Wow, I just LOVED this book and totally connected with it. Gayle Forman totally knocked this one out of the park (again)!

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Obviously, if you haven’t read Gayle Forman’s first duet of contemporary novels, IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT, PLEASE GO READ THOSE NOW (my SUPER old reviews are linked up to the covers above). They’re what first led me to fall in love with not only Gayle’s works, but contemporary romance in general.