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!