Saturday, May 31, 2014

Review: Just One Year (Just One Day #2) by Gayle Forman

Firstly, thanks to Random House Children's Australia for this review copy <3


Date Read: May 23 - 27 2014
Release Date: November 7th 2013
Publisher: Definitions (Random House Children's)
Source: Review copy via publisher
Genre: Contemporary
My rating: 

"Twenty-four hours can change your life . . .
Allyson and Willem share one magical day together in Paris, before chance rips them apart.

The romantic, emotional companion to Just One Day, this is a story of the choices we make and the accidents life throws at us.

But is one day enough to find your fate?"


“Accidents. It's all about the accidents.”

The perfect companion novel to Just One Day I absolutely loved this. Gayle Forman can do no wrong. I think I can understand why I’ve seen so many people say they didn’t care about the characters in this as they wanted a sequel of Just One Day – I know I expected it too. But this is Willem’s story, and once I took a step back and appreciated this, I ended up loving this so much. This is a beautiful story about accidents, chance and finding yourself in the face of life and all the things it throws at you.

Just One Year starts at the point when Willem and Allyson were separated in Paris – we finally know where Willem went that day and woah does it spark one heck of a journey.

Forman writes such perfectly flawed characters. Willem de Ruiter is no perfect guy. Far from it. He comes across as almost a player, having flings with different girls. And yet, reading from his point of view I couldn’t fault him. I always got this sense of restlessness from him, this feeling that he could never settle down because of things that had happened in the past 3 years. His home situation was complicated and because of that I think he was always on the move because he was trying to find where home really was. His voice was so relatable, so stunningly real and authentic. I was Willem as he struggled with trying to deal with loss, letting go and finding love. What made him so believable was that he wasn’t always right… In fact, it seemed a lot of the time he was always wrong but he learnt from his mistakes. He grew so much throughout JOY, faced his fears, his demons and acknowledged many truths and mistakes that, without this journey he wouldn’t have learnt.

“There’s a difference between losing something you knew you had and losing something you discovered you had. One is a disappointment. The other is truly a loss.

Through the one year, Willem comes across many people as he travels through Paris, the Netherlands, Mexico, India and back to Amsterdam. All these people – some strangers, some old friends – leave something for Willem to ponder. These diverse people show how we all have different outlooks on life, what we believe as fate and accidents. They challenged Willem’s own beliefs and made this book so wonderfully thought provoking. Do things happen by accident? Or are they not accidents anymore because we took the chance and acted upon it? Was it even an accident or the subject of chance and choice? What is love, what’s it like to be in love, to leave your mark on someone? To find double happiness? These are just some of the many brilliant questions about life that Forman has incorporated into this achingly truthful story. I’m STILL contemplating these things as I write this review, and I will contemplate them for the rest of my life – changing as I grow with experience.

“Sometimes fate or life or whatever you want to call it, leaves a door a little open and you walk through it. But sometimes it locks the door and you have to find the key, or the lock, or knock the damn thing down. And sometimes, it doesn’t even show you the door and you have to build it yourself.”

And essentially this is what this book is about – changing as one grows with experiences. How these experiences shape Willem, alter his beliefs and make him question everything he has grown up knowing by taking him out of his comfort zone through meeting these people. The interesting thing is, for the past 3 years he has been on this journey, but without Allyson, his “Lulu”, being the catalyst and opening his eyes to these possibilities, he’d have gone on like his old self. Just like how Willem’s presence left a mark on Allyson in JOD, “Lulu” has left her mark on Willem and she is present in everything he does. It blows me away how that one person can do that to a person.

“Love is not something you protect. It’s something you risk.”

Utilising Shakespeare again as a plot device, Forman uses the characters from some of the Bard’s much loved plays to help Willem grow and relate. To show the reader how these things we deal with today are timeless – have always been, and always will be as we are humans with emotions. I have never been a fan of Shakespeare. I’d studied his plays every year throughout high school and never enjoyed them. Yet, through Forman’s words and Willem’s thoughts/actions, I was able to appreciate the power of verse and iambic pentameter that Shakespeare so artfully manipulated.

“This moment. On this stage. I am Orlando, giving myself to Rosalind.”

This journey that Willem thinks is about finding Lulu – is it really? I thought it was something so much bigger. Something so much more profound. A personal journey to find what we truly desire even if we don’t know what it is. And you ask, does Willem find it? Does he find the meaning of family, love, double happiness? Well you’ll have to read the book to find out.

Just One Year is another achingly beautiful story that Forman seems to execute so effortlessly with her eloquent words and intricate meanings about life. A story about finding us – whoever that may be.

“I can’t tell them apart, last year, this year. They are one and the same. Then is now. Now is then.”


Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5) Mini Review


Date Read: May 29th 2014
Release Date: May 29th 2014
Publisher: Definitions (Random House Children's)
Source: Bought
Genre: Contemporary
My rating: 

"After spending one life-changing day in Paris with laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter, sheltered American good girl Allyson “Lulu” Healey discovered her new lover had disappeared without a trace. Just One Day followed Allyson’s quest to reunite with Willem; Just One Year chronicled the pair’s year apart from Willem’s perspective. Now, back together at last, this delectable e-novella reveals the couple’s final chapter."


Forman has now continued Allyson and Willem’s story in Just One Night. Over the course of one night, two people reunite for the first time after spending one fateful day in Paris together. 

The ideas of accidents, chance, connectivity and double happiness are further explored in this emotional novella. Unspoken words are finally said and I, for one, finally got all the answers I wanted. All the themes come back and tie our two characters together, showing the parallels and how, just maybe, we have to wait for the right time for things to happen.

The conclusion to one day that started from one chance encounter that spanned over the course of two journeys in one year... This one night is what everybody needs.


  1. I've been kind of reluctant to read Just One Year, even though I enjoyed Just One Day, but you've convinced me that I should actually read it, and I love travel novels! Yay!
    Awesome review, Jaz!

    1. I was extremely reluctant to read it too Lucy! The key thing is so step back and not thing of it as a sequel, but a companion. Willem's own story. Then you'll be able to really enjoy it c:

  2. Wow you make it sound so beautiful Jaz, fantastic review! I'm glad the book made you think deeper about life and love in general. I love to read books that travel too (like The Geography of You and Me) so it sounds fantastic!

    1. I found the book so beautiful Jeann c: thank you. I love books that make me think about life and growing through journeys!
      I still need to read The Geography of You and Me!