Friday, September 27, 2013

ARC Review: Just One Year (Just One Day, #2) by Gayle Forman

Title: Just One Year (Just One Day, #2) 

Author: Gayle Forman

Rating: 5 Stars

Release Date: October 10th, 2013

I melted into Just One Year.In January, I was impressed by Forman’s Just One Day, but not nearly as much as I was impressed by her If I Stay/Where She Went duology. Just One Year, however, ties together these two novels so seamlessly that I find myself unable to choose which duology I love more. And Forman? Forman hits all the rights notes with this novel; travel, Shakespeare, unflinchingly honest characterizations, familial relationships – and my favorite – love that’s meant-to-be.

Just One Year picks up in Paris, from the moment when Allyson and Willem’s stories diverge. While we know what Allyson went through in her separation from Willem, we now are privy to the inner workings of Willem’s mind. And, gosh, what a fascinating place it is. For me, one of the greatest strengths of this novel is the stark parallels, but also the shocking differences, between both these narratives. For one, many of the locations are similar. In fact, the near-misses between these two will make you cry out in frustration – more than once! – but they only add to the steady build-up of tension to the tale.

A slightly more subtle similarity, however, is the thread of confusion that connects Allyson and Willem’s journey. In Just One Day, Allyson wakes up to find herself alone in a foreign country. Yet, she finds herself more puzzled by what happened to her companion – why did he abandon her? Why could he see aspects of her true personality that the others around her could not? And what, most importantly, is she to do with her life now that that colorful, whirlwind day is behind her and bland, boring days lie ahead? Forman answers these questions with aplomb, creating a New Adult novel that realistically explores the journey of college and, even better, the journey of finding yourself in a seemingly normal world. As we will find out, though, Willem undergoes a similar state of mind. After all, how is he to find Allyson without even knowing her real name? After traveling for years and meeting dozens of people, why is it that she disarms him and sees into his soul with her honesty? And how is he ever going to return to the normalcy of his on-the-road life, now that he knows what it’s like to be with someone who genuinely cares; someone who has forced him to care, for the first time in three years?

It was evident, even from Just One Day, that there was far more to Willem than what met the eye. And there is. Bram, Willem’s father, passed away three years ago and ever since, Willem has barely spoken to his mother, Yael. Bram and Yael’s love story is legendary, encompassing their lives in such a way that Willem has always felt the odd one out. And now, left with the parent who is nothing like him, Willem has resorted to the one thing he knows how to do: escape. Instead of making any conscious decisions, Willem has left his life up to fate, going where the wind blows him, sleeping with the girls who throw themselves at him, and spending time with the people who care to spend time with him. Forman’s portrayal of Willem is unapologetically raw, giving us the glimpses into the real man beneath the veneer of charm and wisdom. Moreover, Willem is slow – and hesitant – to acknowledge the full impact of his day spent with Allyson. Although he knows, in his gut, that he is changed, it takes awhile for him to truly accept this; for him to accept that he wants more from his life but meaningless travel, meaningless relationships, and random “accidents.” While, admittedly, this can become frustrating, I love that it’s so typically Willem. We don’t expect his journey to be nearly as straight-forward as Allyson’s and it isn’t, but it’s just as – if not more – rewarding.

Furthermore, Forman explores the concept of will vs. fate so beautifully, weaving it into the storyline and subtly bringing it up every-so-often. It’s an integral part of Willem’s growth, but it’s also a theme of these two novels as a whole, so I love how they intersect. Moreover, I adore the emphasis on family in this novel, especially as Forman never wastes time with meaningless family trees or background information. Instead, she throws us fully into Willem’s head, leaving us to grasp at the straws of his connections to his remaining family members and their impact on his life. Yael, Willem’s mother who resides in India, is a particular favorite of mine. Not only is their relationship messy and real, full of the uncomfortable facts of life we’d rather push under a rug, but Forman expertly reveals the layers of upbringing that go into making a parent-child relationship. Yael’s childhood has a direct impact on Willem’s own childhood as well and so much of Willem’s understanding of his mother comes from his understanding of her past. Yet, the best aspect of their relationship is the fact that, ultimately, Willem comes to realize that the parent he thought he was not so similar to may actually have more in common with him than he thought. And I love this; I love that Willem and Yael have moved on from their grief, but still find ways to move on from it together. It isn’t a perfectly patched-up relationship, but it’s the small, baby steps that go a long way.

And yet, when you strip away the travel, the family, the self-discovery, at its heart, Just One Year is a love story. We find Willem’s thoughts littered with Lulu; memories, trinkets, thoughts, words, dialogue. And, despite the fact that Lulu lives in Willem’s thoughts for the majority of this novel, Forman convinces us that what they share is more than just a passing fancy; it’s true love. As Willem himself slowly grows to seize his life with his own hands, he too, like Allyson, acknowledges that their day spent together changed him for the better. And while there is the admission that both Willem and Allyson will be fine alone, there is also the truth that they will be remarkable together. Bram and Yael’s love story, which draws heavy parallels between that of Willem and Allyson’s, serves to strengthen our belief in the rightness of this couple. Moreover, what Forman really excels at conveying is that a relationship is build upon the willingness of both people to make it work. It doesn’t matter what hurdles are thrown their way; if they’re convinced that they are meant to be together, no matter what, they will stay together, no matter what. It is the growth of that mindset, then, that is more important than the arc of any relationship. It is for this reason that I love the way Forman has chosen to end this novel. If you read closely enough, if you understand fully enough, you just know what’s really being said in all those undertones. And those are the endings that make me gasp in awe every time.

Needless to say, fans of Forman’s work will be flocking to buy this the day it releases. It needs no further endorsement from me or any other reviewer – the name of Gayle Forman is enough to ensure that it delivers and lives up to expectations. And yet, I was still surprised when I read this novel. While Mia and Allyson are both very different heroines, they do share subtle similarities in their lifestyle. Adam and Willem, however, are as different as can be and I love that I love these two distinct male narratives for different reasons. Despite both being darkly flawed beings, Adam and Willem find ways to cope with their lives and move on. And, best of all, I love that both these duologies are of a different nature. Where She Went is more sequel than companion novel, whereas Just One Year relies on the dates, time periods, and locations of Just One Day to be fully experienced at its raw potential. Perhaps best of all, though, Shakespeare remains the underlying inspiration, connecting together the books and giving rise to the tones they convey. With the magic she has worked up, Forman has ensured one thing: you will close her novel stained.


  1. While If I Stay was a fist Forman novel I've read and as such it'll always have a special place in my heart I can say I really enjoyed Just One Day. You have no idea how happy I'm to hear that Just One Year was even better for you. I cannot wait to read it. Amazing review Keertana :)

  2. I only skimmed your review Keertana because I haven't read the first book and don't want to know too much about Willem before I do so. When I get around to book 1, it will be my first Gayle Forman book and I'm HUGELY excited, I can't believe it's taken me so long to read her! I'm glad to see this book got a 5 from you, I have such high hopes for the series as a whole:)

  3. First, I'm green jelly here. SO want to read this one. WANT. :) Now you give me this review and I'm wondering why it's not in my hot little hands right now. This sounds like what I wanted in the series and I was afraid I wasn't going to get it. Oh now I really can't wait!

  4. Like Jenny I only skimmed your review because I'm still reading Just One Day. I'm really liking it so far though and I have a feeling I'm going to love this too. :)

  5. Aw, gorgeous review, Keertana! You are so eloquent--I agree with everything you said. I loved being in Willem's mind--I love that he isn't written as this perfect guy, pining away for Allyson--even though he is a mysterious figure in Just One day, I knew enough about him to know that pining is not Willem's style. So I applaud Forman for allowing his character's integrity to remain intact.

    And I love this part of your review:

    "And while there is the admission that both Willem and Allyson will be fine alone, there is also the truth that they will be remarkable together. "

    That's a wonderful, wonderful statement--and so true.

    I'm so happy that this book worked for you, K! This love story goes down as one of my all time fave's:)

  6. It's no secret that I haven't had the best of luck with Forman's novels, and so Just One Day failed to completely wow me. I really enjoyed the ending of that one though, and so that leaves me with much hope that I'll enjoy this one significantly more.

    I can definitely see myself getting frustrated in this novel- with all those near-misses, and the fact that it takes Willem such a long time to realize that one day did indeed change him, but I'm hoping that it will be the good kind of frustration. Also, I'm really looking forward to finding out about Yael and Bram's love story, and how that parallels Allyson and Willem's story. Also, I'm already cheering for this deep parent-child relationship, especially because Willem is older. I'm already looking forward to reading about that, and seeing how things play out between them.

    Overall, you've given me hope that I'll enjoy this one more than I have Forman's other books. It seems like such a beautiful and touching read. Lovely review dear! <3

  7. I didn't enjoy Just One Day as much as everybody else did, but then again, I enjoyed Where She Went MUCH more than If I Stay as well. Perhaps I'll have better luck with Forman's male POVs. But Willem's story seriously sounds very in-depth. It's true that I didn't like Allyson very much at all, but I was surely curious about Willem's character. He was a bit of an enigma in Just One Day, and it looks like Forman really gets into the nitty-gritty in this one about his background and family! I'm so glad that you absolutely adored this one. I wasn't going to pick up Just One Year after thinking Just One Day was meh, but your review has wholeheartedly convinced me! Gorgeous review, Keertana :)

  8. The parallel between the two of them and Willem's parents sound fascinating, and this generally sounds ridiculously well plotted/imagined. Foreman IS brilliant in that regard, I know that just from reading her first duology. She has a great talent for subtleties and small truths of life that strike you as shocking in their honesty. I think she's a lot like Melina Marchetta in that way.

    I have yet to read this, I didn't want to until both books became available, but now that they are, I have no more excuses, do I? Lovely review, my darling. You fascinate me.

    1. *I* fascinate you? I can't imagine why, but thank you!(: And yes, you certainly have no excuses left. I really hope you enjoy this duology as much as you did her first one, Maja! I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for your thoughts!(:

  9. Keertana this is once again such a gorgeous review, you have totally hit the nail with how I was left after reading this book and that is stained. I loved how much we got to learn about Willem's character, I was extremely unsure about his character in Just One Day, but I'm glad we were finally able to get into his head. I also loved the secondary characters that we got to meet, especially Yael! I know for sure too that Forman will be one of my favourite authors for a long time!

  10. Wow, Keertana. I've read some of Gayle's stuff before, but I've been ardently against New Adult books, so I just haven't really considered this one before now. Honestly, it sounds extremely powerful, and I love that you mention how the novel navigates the college experience realistically. That's amazing. Thanks for sharing such a great review! :)

  11. Fabulous review!! And how did I not know about your blog before?! Your reviews are so beautiful, thoughtful and thorough - love, love love!!! :D I already added you to my blog roll, so prepare to be stalked regularly from now on :)

    As for Gale Forman, I haven't actually read any of her books yet. I do have 3 of them on my shelf, I am just working up to diving into them - I know her books can be pretty profound and emotional, I kind of feel like I need to be in the right mood for them :) I'm so glad you enjoyed this one so much - I love both the cover of JOD and JOY, so lovely!

    Thank you for a fantastic review! :)

    Evie @Bookish

  12. I am sold! I MUST read this series :) I follow your blog via gfc and bloglovin. I also liked your FB page as Mina De Caro. I hope you'll follow and like back Mina's Bookshelf
    Thank you!

  13. Oh Oh Oh.... I am waiting to read the first book. It is right at the tippy top of my for real pile and will get this one from the library soon. I'm also at the tippy top of the list. I am beyond excited to see your rating!

    The Mad Scientist is in a bit of trouble.  I am in need of some help getting back on my blogging feet after exploring Thailand, Laos & Malaysia for the past 6 months. Please do stop by and visit one or more of posts to help out & to let me know what your bookish self has been up to.  :)

    Mad Scientist @ Steampunkery & Book Reviews

  14. There's a reason why I love male POV's more than the female ones. I have the e-arc of this book, and I'm dying to read it! Great review! Definitely made me want to forget about my reading schedule xD

    -Marianne @ Boricuan Bookworms

  15. I haven't read this series yet but I read If I stay and I loved it so much that it made me cry, so I'm definitely gonna read this too!

    Ps. I've just started my book blog, I'll leave you the link if you want to check it out! :)

  16. I gave my ARC to our new coblogger to read so I am exercising great restrain in not reading your review yet, but I did peek at your rating. :D Yay for 5 stars! I can't wait.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  17. I'm happy to see you enjoyed this, Keertana. I wasn't thrilled to find out this wasn't a sequel but more of a parallel account on Willem's side. I wanted to know what happened after they reunited. Also, I have no doubt the near misses would've frustrated me to no end. I don't think I'll be picking this up, but I'm happy to see you loved it! Wonderful review! :)

  18. I love how the differences in Allyson and Willem's journeys in the year after their one day speak to who they are as people, and why they are such a fantastic couple. I loved Bran and Yael's story, but it's not until the very end of the book that you get the full impact of it in a way that really floors you.

    "despite the fact that Lulu lives in Willem’s thoughts for the majority of this novel, Forman convinces us that what they share is more than just a passing fancy; it’s true love." YES YES YES to this. Forman's ability to emotionally connect to these two and believe in them so strongly, after they've spent ONE DAY together, but we've spent a year with each of them, is just mind bogglingly beautiful.

    I also love what you said about the fact that these two could be fine alone, but in that moment that they intersect again, they choose together. xo LOVELY LOVELY! Are you glad you waited until the end to read the conclusion? It was completely worth it, wasn't it :).

    PS. I just finished INTO THE STILL BLUE! Let's discuss it when you finish.

  19. Absolutely beautiful review, Keertana. I can't wait for Just One Year now. Hearing you describe how everything intertwines makes me so excited. I was worried I would be disappointed since it doesn't pick up directly where Just One Day left off, but I'm in awe by your descriptions and I'm already fangirling and I haven't picked up a copy yet. I'll be picking up a copy ASAP because this just sounds absolutely perfect and I can't wait! Wonderful review!:D


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