just one day

Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Allyson has always been the good girl, following her mother’s expectations of her completely.  That’s why she’s on a whirlwind tour of Europe.  Allyson is the girl who follows the rules, rarely goes out in the evenings with the others, and fades into the background next to her flashier best friend.  So when Allyson suggests that they go see an underground performance of Shakespeare and cut out of the tour, it’s very out of character.  When she discovers one of the actors, Willem, on their train the next day to London, the two of them just click.  Quickly, she and Willem decide to head to Paris together for just one day before they both have to return home.  As they travel together, the spark they had on the train becomes something even stronger.  So when Willem is gone the next morning, Allyson struggles to figure out what happened even as she returns home and starts college.  But the memory of Willem won’t leave her, coloring everything she experiences.

Forman is the author of If I Stay and Where She Went.  Here she explores the world of a sheltered teen girl who decides to take a huge risk and break free of her confines if only for just one day.  Forman captures the fatigue of travel where one day blurs into the others and the way that tours can dull the wonder of even the most amazing places.  She then shows the difference between that way of travel and the travel of discovery and serendipity where your entire being is caught up in experiencing things.  Forman writes of Paris and then also the Netherlands with a true affection, creating moments that are splendid and transformational. 

Forman’s writing is assured and skilled.  Upon opening the novel, the reader knows that the book will be solid.  They will be delighted to also find that her writing is romantic and beautiful, truly recreating the experience of falling in love as a teen.  She has also created a very compelling teen heroine in Allyson, who struggles mightily with the expectations set upon her.  One roots for her to find her way free and also to find her way back to what she lost.

This exceptional teen novel is a whirlwind romantic trip to Europe that will have you wrapped up in its arms much faster than just one day.  Appropriate for ages 16-18.

Reviewed from copy received from Dutton.