Salute Your Shorts is a weekly (ish) feature hosted by Heidi at Bunbury in the Stacks. It highlights and reviews short stories and novellas, both of which don't receive too much attention in the blogosphere.
Title: Just One Night (Just One Day, #2.5)
Author: Gayle Forman
Rating: 4 Stars
It will come as a surprise to many that I didn't necessarily want Just One Night. Unlike the majority of readers, I fell head-over-heels in love with Just One Year, particularly its ending. It felt right. While Just One Day may have had readers questioning Willem's fidelity or the depth of his love for Allyson, I knew by the answering smile on his face as he opened the door to allow her his apartment that their love story could have only one type of ending: a happy one. And though Just One Year may not have prolonged their reunion too much, I closed the volume with absolutely no complaints, feeling swept up in the whirlwind of life, of fate, and of the journeys that take us to new dimensions of understanding ourselves.
Thus, when I heard Forman was releasing Just One Night, her first novella, I was mostly confused, though admittedly curious and more than a little eager to re-visit the lives of Allyson and Willem both. For a small title, Just One Night is impeccably written--as is only to be expected from Forman--venturing into a slightly different format as Forman flits between the third person perspectives of Allyson, Willem, and even their close friends. It is a content installment, full of the connecting dots that further emphasize just how much Willem and Allyson belong together, and for that, I loved it. I loved the meandering conversations these two share, both as they yearn to begin their lives together while simultaneously backtracking to the marvelous day they shared together in Paris. As they try to piece together all the missing gaps in their love story.
Perhaps, for most readers, this novella provides that tiny little bit of closure they felt missing from the ending of Just One Year. Perhaps seeing a confirmation in both the dialogue and actions of Willem further reassure readers that yes, he loves Allyson; yes, he means to begin a relationship with her and make it work till the end; no, she isn't just another one of his girls--she's special. For me, however, all this and more became abundantly clear in Just One Year, particularly in the way that Willem compared his relationship with Allyson to that shared between Yael and Bram. Of course, there are lines--snippets, really--from this novella that are sweet, adorable, and meant to be cherished but, as a whole, it didn't do too much for me beyond clarify what I already knew to be true for these two. It's a short work and a pleasure to read, but where the previous two books in this series gave me more than a love story--they gave me a remarkable journey of self-discovery to examine and admire--this novella remains a romantic tale, tying up the potential loose ends Forman may not have spelled out in Just One Year and pleasing fans around the globe. It's well-worth the read, in my opinion, but while I'll be re-reading Just One Day and Just One Year in the time to come, I am perfectly content letting Just One Night sit demurely on my Kindle from here on out.