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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.
This is the first book I've read by Gayle Forman, but it certainly won't be the last. I didn't quite know what to expect from Just One Day, and it has got some varying reviews, but with a setting in Paris, it was hard to refuse. And I'm so glad I read it.
The story isn't so much a romantic one, as it is about self-discovery, figuring out who you really are and maybe breaking away from the conefinements others has put you in. In the beginning, Allyson think she knows excatly who she is, and she is happy with her life. But then she does something, that she thought she would never, ever do; she goes with Willem - a guy she only just met, and frankly know nothing about - to Paris for just one day. Here she becomes "Lulu", a name Willem gives her, and when she's pretending to be Lulu she dares to do a lot more than before, but most importantly she feels free. Being with Willem that one day makes her a whole other person, and she questions whether Lulu is an act or if she's finally finding herself.
I liked that while Willem first opened this hidden, unknown side of her, it's Allyson who has to piece the puzzle together, it's her who has to find herself.
“He showed me how to get lost, and then I showed myself how to get found.”
At first I had a hard time connecting to the story and the characters, but as the book progressed I couldn't help but be concerned and invested in Allyson's life. I think Allyson was an amazing character. I think she was courageous, smart and independent. She made some tough choices and stood by them. And I recognized a lot of her feelings about figuring out who you really are, and where you're supposed to go from there. I think she - actually this book - was very inspiring, and I almost felt a need to jump on the nearest train and just go somewhere totally unplanned. Almost.
I really liked Willem. He seems like a great guy despite everything, and I liked those glimpses of vulnerability he gave. He's definitely one you shouldn't judge to fast, because you need the whole picture to truly understand him, his character, his actions. Another reason why I can't wait to read the sequel, Just One Year, which will be in his POV.
I also liked all the side charachters, and I think they were all well developed. I especially liked Dee, I actually think he, after Allyson, was my favourite in the book. He definitely wasn't who he appears to be either, and I think that's one of the important parts in the story: you shouldn't judge people on how they appear, but how they are. And you'll only know the difference if you're attentive and don't put them in a box to quickly. Another "character" in this story was Shakespeare, or rather his plays. They were amazingly incorporated in the story and where significant to the story, without taking to much attention and being too overwhelming. And I think I'm going to read As You Like It some time soon.
I very much liked this book, and I can't wait to read the next book, Just One Year, which thankfully is released later this year. I'll most definitely recommend this book.
“C'est courageux d'aller dans l'inconnu': It is courageous to go into territory unknown.”
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆