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.
Cover + book design – Danielle Delaney Cover photo – Paul McGee Rating – 4/5
This is definitely my favorite cover for this book. My main complaint is that the author’s name is so much bigger than the title, and that has always been one of my pet peeves in book covers. Other than that, this is a very nice cover for Just One Day. I might not want to hang it on my wall, but I’d probably pick it up in a bookstore to read the summary. It screams contemporary, it has a great color scheme with font colors plucked from the photo, and the photograph itself is perfect. I love how the characters are backlit, so we see them but just their silhouettes and no identifying features. They also look like they’re on the move. They could be traveling or simply walking to lunch, and they could be in any city practically anywhere in the world.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this book. I didn’t like Gayle Forman’s 1st book, If I Stay, all that much. (My review is here. I gave it a 4, but I honestly can’t remember anything about it!) Everyone else seemed to rave about it and I was let down. After hearing about how amazing Just One Day was from all corners of the bookish web, I was fairly worried that it would let me down. But it didn’t. Just One Day reads like a Sarah Dessen book – full of hope, self-discovery, and love. This story is about so much more than romance and I adored it.
- college – I can’t get enough of books that follow the main character into or during college, especially ones that have actual plotlines. If I’d known that this followed Allyson into college, I would have read it so much sooner! It’s great that Allyson was changing her classes in college. Most people change their majors at least once, and she starts taking classes she is genuinely interested in and excited about.
- Allyson (post-trip) – While on the trip where she meets Willem, Allyson irritated me sometimes. She seemed so young and naive – ready to trust the 1st good-looking dude she came across, and calling all the dumb things she did “bold.” Post-trip Allyson, however, is someone I’d like to meet. She’s determined to work things out for herself, no matter how many obstacles she faces. Job, French class, standing up to her parents – she tackles it all with actual boldness and little more than a 2nd glance. Allyson’s doing what she wants and she’s not letting anything anyone says get in the way.
- the Aussies – The group of Australian tourists that Allyson meets are awesome. They embrace her quest to eat a macaron every day (which is different from a macaroon – the coconut things), they invite her to see the sights with them, and they get ridiculously excited by Allyson’s story of long-lost love. The Aussies are the friends that Allyson didn’t know she needed.
- the ending – I have a love / hate relationship with the ending of this book. Before you read this book – no, before you think about reading this book – you should know that Just One Year is not strictly a sequel. It’s a companion novel. The ending of this book is a major cliffhanger, and if I had known about the whole companion novel thing, I would have had it on my nightstand to crack open the second I finished reading this one. I must know what happens next, and I can’t wait to read the story from Willem’s POV.
- abruptness – As I was reading this book, I knew there was a sequel entitled Just One Year. So, I was confused when the “one day” from the title ended, when there was a section called “Just One Year.” Suddenly, I was catapulted from Allyson’s day-long rebellion against herself to a month or so into her freshman year of college. Although I love that we get to see Allyson in college and in her real life outside of vacation, I was a little thrown by how quickly that shift happened.
- going off with Willem – I know that this is fiction, fantasy, and star-crossed lovers, but going to a foreign country with a guy you just met in a different foreign country is so against common sense. It’s so dangerous to go anywhere alone with a random guy that even though I loved this book the whole concept bothered me and I just can’t ignore it. Finding yourself shouldn’t involve basically risking your life because you find someone attractive. Allyson and Willem even joke about him selling her into sex slavery – and I’m not sure I’m ok with that. On one hand, I’m glad the subject was brought up, because that definitely could have happened. I mean, have you seen Taken? But, if they were just going to blow it off like it wasn’t an actual possibility, then why bring it up at all?
- Melanie – Allyson’s best friend isn’t exactly my idea of supportive. Sure, she bad mouths the guy that lets her best friends down and breaks her heart. Once Melanie and Allyson start college though, Melanie acts as if she’s a completely different person. She tells Allyson how reliable and normal she is, which is like a more polite way of calling Allyson boring. Melanie’s on a big kick of reinventing herself and living it up while making it clear that she expects Allyson to remain the same.
- Allyson’s mom – Allyson’s mom pressures her way too much – so much that even when Allyson is on a European vacation or away at college, her mother’s expectations are weighing on her mind. I really like books that deal with family pressures, but if I were Allyson, I would go nuts. Her mom can’t seem to let her have her own life, her own mistakes. Allyson considering changing her major is not the apocalypse! A less than A+ grade point average is not the end of the world, especially when Allyson’s mom should be more concerned about her actual daughter than about her daughter’s grades.
- “If you rape or murder my friend, I will kill you.” Willem tsk-tsks. “You Americans are so violent. I’m Dutch. The worst I will do is run her over with a bicycle.” “While stoned!” Melanie adds. “Okay, maybe there’s that,” Willem admits. – Melanie + Willem (pg. 30)
- “Okay, Allyson, no way through it but through it,” I tell myself. And then I face the ticket machine, shoulders back, like we are competitors in a duel. I punch the touch screen, feed it a ten-euro note and then it spits me back some change and a tiny ticket. A small victory against an impassive opponent, but I am flush with satisfaction. – Allyson (pg. 294)