Tuesday, March 26, 2013

YA Book Club: Just One Day


It's time for the March meeting of the YA Book Club hosted by Tracey Neithercott. Today we are discussing JUST ONE DAY by Gayle Forman.

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.

I knew I would love this book. I loved IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT by Gayle Forman, and a book about travel and lost love is right up my alley. But I had no idea that I would connect to this book on such a profound level. It really is one of those books for me...one of the books that brought up feelings I didn't even know I carried around. 

1. I know the feeling of falling in love with Paris. This summer I had the amazing opportunity to spend almost three weeks in Paris, both with friends and with my MFA program. I'd been there once before, a few years ago, and I arrived expecting I would like it okay, but thinking that the London leg of my trip would be the one where I really fell in love. I couldn't believe how wrong I was. I liked London, but Paris. Paris wrapped its arms around me and pulled me in so hard, and it's never let me go. When I was there this summer, I just felt like I was at home. Even though I don't know any French and couldn't really communicate as well as I would have liked, I was just met with warm, friendly people at every turn. Not at all the negative stereotypes I hear about French people at all, just people who welcomed me and helped me and wanted me to be happy in their gorgeous city. I loved the food and the people and the culture and the atmosphere and it just absolutely became a part of my heart in ways I can't even explain. I think every place you travel to becomes a part of you in some way, but I can't even really explain the role Paris plays in my heart now.

My time in Paris was very different from Allyson's, but I get her. I get how a place and an experience can impact your life the way it does for her. I wish I would have been able to travel to Paris when I was her age, but I don't know if I would have ever returned. And maybe that would have been okay.

This summer for my MFA residency, I'm going to Ireland. I'm thinking about going to Scotland first, because I've never been. But as I plan, I'm also wondering if I can find a way to get back to Paris again while I'm over in Europe. Every Saturday morning I turn on PBS and watch Rick Steves in Paris and wonder when I'm going to be able to walk those streets again. Because it's not about if, it's about when.

2. I know the feeling of having a short, passionate, life-changing relationship with someone you hardly know and spending months and months after wondering if your brief encounter meant as much to them as it did to you and realizing that because of them, your life has changed so profoundly and you don't really know how to deal with it all. That's pretty much all I'm going to say about that, but this experience changed me, and I can see how it changed Allyson. I can completely understand why it leads her to do all the things she does through the course of this book, and reading about her sort of felt like living it all over again.

This book touched me like few books have managed to do, and I absolutely can not wait to see how the story wraps up from Willem's point of view in JUST ONE YEAR.

Who else read JUST ONE DAY? What did you think about it? And be sure to head over to Tracey's blog to visit the other posts participating in book club today!

12 comments:

  1. I wish I could have connected with Allyson's story the way that you did! I have to agree that Paris is magical though, however much of a cliché that may be. Even though I didn't completely love JUST ONE DAY, I'm still looking forward to Willem's story.

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  2. I loved this book. I felt like I really connected to Allyson's arc (former pre-Med turned writer-person here). I hope you have an amazing time in Ireland, and get to steal away to Paris while you're over there!

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  3. I love Paris too, but I haven't been back since I was sixteen. I think I need to fix that! It's definitely one of those cities that makes a lasting impression. For me, it's a place like Edinburgh. (I've been twice.) Like Rebecca Barrow, I didn't connect with Allyson's story as much as I would have liked. There were aspects of the book that I really enjoyed--Dee, the diner, seeing Paris again--but others I didn't. I'm definitely curious about Willem's story, though. :)

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  4. I loved reading this because I connected with the book a lot, too.

    Definitely go to Scotland if you can! I loved it there. Edinburgh is just amazing! I'm also trying to figure out when I can go to Paris again. Maybe next year?? I know it's a long shot, but if everything falls into place, I will make it happen. Even if I can only spend a day or two there, I want to go.

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  5. So...am I the only one who´s dying to know more about your short passionate life-changing moment? :-)
    I connected with Allyson in many ways, in many many many ways...and I loved her Paris :D
    e

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  6. It was the other part of Allyson's story that really connected with me, the whole trying to figure out what she wants from life and learning how to be fearless and all that good stuff. That was me at 18/19. (Although my parents were more chill about my desire to spend their money on a history degree. Mostly they just sighed and shook their heads. But, you know, supported my desire to hang out with dead people all day and then be poor for the rest of my life.)

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  7. I totally connected with Allyson too, Jess. I think that's the big reason I loved this book so much. I could see myself in her. And yes... the setting. Gorgeous. I've never been to Europe, but I'd love to go. Perhaps I need to sign up for an MFA program. :-) I can’t wait to read Willem’s book this October. I’m very much looking forward to learning about him and his past, and seeing how it all impacts Allyson and her journey.

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  8. "I get her. I get how a place and an experience can impact your life the way it does for her.:" <--THIS.

    I really connected with Allyson, too. I was her age when I was traveling and having the sorts of experiences that change who you are. That aspect of the book just felt so authentic to me. I completely believed that she could fall in love in a day. And I think she wasn't just falling in love with Willem but with Willem in Paris as Lulu, the new, freer version of herself. As much as I didn't like Willem and couldn't get in to the relationship, I still found the overall theme of self-discovery very well done.

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  9. I love seeing how different people are connecting with this book. I haven't fallen in love with a place the way you (and Allyson) have or have had a whirlwind relationship, but I absolutely related to Allyson and her struggle to change. That's the part that touched me the most because I was so much like her - the girl who does what's expected - and I've struggled and am still struggling to be the freer, truer me.

    Have fun in Ireland. That sounds like it'll be amazing! :)

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  10. I now cannot wait to read this. I loved Gayle's other books so far.

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  11. YES to your #2 point. This book is what most people think about doing after a whirlwind romance or even after a brief, profound encounter - did it mean as much as I'm remembering? - but most people don't follow through like Allyson did.

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  12. I'm glad that you enjoyed this book so much. I don't have many travel experiences (outside of studying abroad in Africa) and ended up marrying my highschool sweet heart, so a lot of this book just didn't resonate with me. But the whole being a rule follower and finding yourself thing? Yeah, I really did like that. And I almost cried when Allyson and her mom finally found some even ground.

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