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Thursday, December 24, 2015

REVIEW: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Allyson Healey's life is perfectly ordered and regimented at the hands of her overbearing mother.  Her senior trip through Europe hasn't been all that exciting since every single detail has been research and planned down to the most minute aspect.  This changes when Allyson meets super sexy and mysterious Dutch actor, Willem, in England.  Following instant attraction, Allyson (introducing herself as Lulu) agrees to spend 'just one day' with him in Paris. Neither divulge their true identities, yet it is the most intimate day of Allyson's life.

After a magical day and passionate night, Allyson wakes up the next day alone, her heart fractured. Willem is gone and she feels as if she's been duped. Crestfallen, Allyson returns to her life but can't shake the memory of that one day.  She embarks on her freshman year of college, spiraling into a deep depression while conforming to the 'perfect' life her mother has planned. Allyson finds herself, as well as her heart's desire, while following an unforeseen path that leads her to unexpected friendships, a much needed heart-to-heart with her mother, and an adventurous return to Europe to seek out Willem for closure.

Just One Day is a book about growing up, love, heartbreak, travel, identity and "accidents" of fate. As a fan of Forman's work, I've had this on my radar for a while but hadn't gotten to it yet.  My desire to read was expounded when I discovered it has recently been challenged for removal from a public middle school library in Minnesota. Parents of a 6th grader claimed it was inappropriate, citing graphic sexuality, underage drinking and a date rape scene. After reading, I agree that this isn't something for a 6th grader to read; however, I wouldn't pull it from a middle school library.  It comes back to parents actively parenting and knowing what their kids are reading. A panel of school administrators and such voted to keep it.

I found Allyson to be irritating at times but my opinion of her came full circle since she was able to mature and find herself and her voice instead of being domineered by her family.  I would never react in such a fashion to an ill-fated romance, but her depression is realistic and plausible shows young readers how one might recover from such heartache. I liked the ambiguity of the ending and will probably read the companion novel and the accompanying short story to get a sense of Willem's perspective and closure for a happy reunion.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

#justoneday #gayleforman #YAlit #contemporary #realisticfiction #romance