There is nothing better than the right book coming along at the right time. Just when I was contemplating my New Year’s resolutions I read a book with some of the things I had been thinking about. I had wanted to read Gayle Forman’s Just One Day since Jacqui told me that it was wonderful. I was not the least bit disappointed after reading the book; I was amazed and inspired and I absolutely cannot wait to read the sequel.
Just One Day opens in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the latest stop on the Teen Tour! (complete with exclamation point) of Europe that Allyson and her best friend Melanie are on. While the group is standing in line for a production of Hamlet Allyson and Melanie are handed a flyer for a performance of Twelfth Night by a travelling troupe and decide to sneak off to that instead. Melanie is thrilled that Allyson is finally ready to shake things up after playing it safe for the entire trip. She can’t believe it the next morning, though, when Allyson agrees to go to Paris for the day with Willem, one of the young members of the acting troupe. Allyson can’t quite believe it, either, and she’s so shocked at this new side of her personality that she calls herself Lulu. Allyson as Lulu has an exciting, eventful day and night in Paris. The next morning, though, when Willem has disappeared Allyson abandons her Lulu persona and becomes her timid, uncertain self again. Allyson is safely reunited with her tour group, but she is forever changed by her one day in Paris and she can’t help wondering what happened to Willem. She starts college in a daze, dutifully attending her pre-med classes and avoiding her enthusiastic roommates, who try valiantly to get Allyson involved in student life.
Allyson’s life continues on like this until her advisor encourages her to take a Shakespeare class. At first Allyson refuses because she doesn’t want to be reminded of Willem, but when she gives the class a try she realizes how much she truly enjoys Shakespeare’s writing and she makes a true friend in Dee, who helps her come out of her shell. Allyson is finally able to be honest with herself and her parents about what she really wants; a career in medicine is what Allyson’s mother has always wanted for her and now Allyson is ready to pursue her own dreams. She decides that she wants to go back to Europe to find Willem, but it becomes clear that Allyson is really going to find herself.
I liked the romance in Just One Day, but the best part was seeing Allyson’s transformation into the person she truly wants to be. I love the fact that this change begins in January and that I read the book on New Year’s Day. Allyson learns so many important lessons, most notably to genuinely appreciate all the amazing people in her life and to have the courage to take advantage of opportunities and pursue her dreams. I think these are wonderful resolutions and I am grateful to Gayle Forman for giving me these inspirations. She’s an amazing writer and I can’t wait to read her sequel, Just One Year.