When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.
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Being a huge fan of Forman's, I was absolutely ecstatic when I heard she'd be writing another 2-book story centered around a couple and told from both their POVs. I'm happy (and more than a little relieved, considering my track record so far this year) to report that Just One Day lives up to the hype, and while I had a few minor problems with the story, I still ended up immensely enjoying it.
I wasn't too impressed with Allyson at the beginning, and with "Lulu" even less. That didn't deter me from the book at all, however, because if there was one thing I was sure about getting into this, it was how Forman has a knack for making her readers become subtly yet intricately captivated by her characters and their lives. That certainly held true for Willem and Allyson, and despite those aforementioned issues I had, I'm looking forward to Just One Year with even more fervor than I did Just One Day.
There are too many unknowns about Willem for me to be 100% sure I love him, but I will say this: I am absolutely and completely in love with the Willem Lulu met and fell for. As for the rest, I'll reserve judgment until I've read Just One Year and heard his side of things.
“Who takes care of you now?”
At first I’m not sure I said it aloud and, if I did, that he heard me, because he doesn’t answer for a long time. But then finally, he says, “I take care of me.”
Willem and Allyson are simply beautiful together. The magnetic attraction between them is apparent from their first meeting and it only gets more intense as they get to know each other properly. I loved reading their dialogue and witnessing them slowly fall in love. Even knowing they'd separate after just one day, I couldn't prevent myself from becoming invested in their romance.
And that's when I understand that I have been stained. Whether I'm still in love with him, whether he was ever in love with me, and no matter who he's in love with now, Willem changed my life. He showed me how to get lost, and then I showed myself how to get found.
The writing is dazzling with its depiction of life in Paris and the historical sites there and in neighboring countries. The setting shifts from London to Paris to America to all over Europe once again and the writing adds an almost mystical atmosphere to these well-known places. For me, this book had the feel of a revered black&white movie, despite how vibrant and colorful the story is.
Overall, this was not as good as If I Stay, nor was I expecting it to be because epic stories like that only come around once in a while. Nonetheless, Just One Day is an exquisite depiction of first love and the uncertainties, risks, and hopes that come with it. Just One Year can't get here fast enough!
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