Review: Just One Year

Posted March 12, 2015 / Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Review: Just One YearJust One Year by Gayle Forman
Series: Just One Day #2
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Published by Penguin on October 10th 2013
Also by this author: If I Stay, Where She Went, Just One Day, Just One Night, Leave Me
Format: Paperback (352 pages) • Source: Purchased
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The compelling companion title to the much-lauded Just One Day follows Willem's transformative journey toward self-discovery and true love, by the author of If I Stay.

Picking up where Just One Day ended, Just One Year tells Willem's side of the story. After spending an amazing day and night with Allyson in Paris that ends in separation, Willem and Allyson are both searching for one another. His story of their year of quiet longing and near misses is a perfect counterpoint to Allyson’s own as Willem undergoes a transformative journey, questioning his path, finding love, and ultimately, redefining himself.

This book was simultaneously exactly what was expected but not necessarily what I wanted. In Allyson’s story, we see her grow and develop into this person who actually has bits and pieces of Lulu in her. She takes more chances and tries to live her life by what she wants to do instead of what her parents want her to do. She becomes a better person and more true to the self she wanted to be. I was hoping that Willem’s story was also transformative (as the synopsis suggests) like Allyson’s. I really don’t think it was.

The main point of Just One Year is to show what Willem was doing in the time that Allyson was searching for him throughout that following year. It was exactly what I expected – he travels around like a nomad, hooks up with girls (more on that later), and looks for her in a very half-ass way. I loved learning more about his family, which remained a mystery in the first book, and seeing what made him the way he is – a traveler seemingly without a home. It was awesome to read about the missed connections they had throughout that year.

I didn’t like the fact that the two ways Allyson and Willem dealt with their heartbreak was completely different. He couldn’t stop thinking about her but still went out and reacted by sleeping with other girls. In her story, she falls into a depression and it takes quite a lot to get her over it. It seemed almost sexist that this is the way it all went down. It’s a traditional story of a girl being depressed over a guy while he uses his sadness to get under a few new girls. I was hoping for something better than that.

The book didn’t grab me as much as I the first one did. It had the same compelling writing and storytelling that Gayle is famous for, but was lacking in some of the magic I guess? I’m not sure how to describe it! It actually was similar to Allyson’s story where the middle of the book kind of bored me a little and wasn’t as exciting as the beginning or end. I definitely enjoyed it more at the ending because it had that same sense of urgency as Allyson’s story, where I couldn’t stop reading and needed to see how it ended.

Speaking of the ending, View Spoiler » I thought it was appropriate and probably would have been okay with it ending there. BUT because the Just One Night novella exists, I was very happy to read that and see what happened next.

Overall, I did end up enjoying the book. It wasn’t exactly what I hoped but it was what I expected in a lot of ways. It featured the same magical writing that you’d come to expect and was really compelling at the end. I loved seeing Willem’s side of the story and seeing how he spent his year. He was kind of an enigma after the first book, so it was great to learn more about him.

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