|Barnes & Noble|
Just One Day
By, Gayle Forman
Anything can happen in just one day …
Here’s why I love Gayle Forman so much, why I have yet to be disappointed in any of her books that I have read, her characters, their circumstances, their problems and their solutions are real! Although she is a fiction writer she chooses real life situations that could actually happen to someone on the street. She focuses on the choices people make day to day and the ways in which we as humans are shaped as individuals. If I Stay/Where She Went depicted how trauma can change you irrevocably, the way it will shape the person you were into almost someone new entirely.
Just One Day, and subsequently Just One Year, show us how happiness and spontaneity can change you. Allyson the ideal and dutiful daughter bound for Pre-Med at her father’s alma mater on a European adventure, which was anything but. Allyson had all the makings of living the typical white picket fence life of being complacent, not happy. I mean sure she’d tell herself she’s happy and that the choices she made were the right ones, but let’s face it she didn’t choose any of it! Her whole life up until the point she met Willem was decided for her by someone else, and even everything after.
Somewhere there is a girl, or even a boy, that will read this book and related so much to Allyson because their entire life has been steered for them by their parents. Every moment planned and not a second squandered, no place for free thinking or self-discovery. Willem is the unlikely catalyst in the change that Allyson so desperately needed in her life. That catalyst for the reader is hope; hope that they can take back control of their own lives, make their own decisions and find their own happiness. Willem didn’t do much he just made her an offer and it was an offer that Allyson had to decide to accept or reject on her own, sure Melanie was there telling her not to do it, but Melanie wasn’t the one being offered a day in Paris.
Okay so let’s face it, strange European boy offering unsuspecting American girl to spend the day in Paris together after meeting for all of an hour, I’ve seen Taken of course red flags go up! This has all the makings of disaster written all over it. But let’s talk realistically Allyson, practical, reliable she may have been sheltered her entire life, she may not have made many decisions like this one for herself but she’s got a gut instinct. Speaking as a reliably practical person, your gut instinct flares up in a big way screaming “DANGER, DANGER” if something is truly bad for you. Her gut said she could trust Willem and she could! Willem was not, it turns out, one of the bad guys that mothers warn their daughters about he was one of the genuine ones, one of the good ones.
Post-Willem: Yes I was upset when Allyson awoke the next morning and Willem was gone, I’d had higher hope for him. But deep down in my gut I knew there had to be more to the story than Willem just taking off and disappearing.
Now I have read the Twilight books and no I do not think any girl should fall apart just because a guy leaves her. But Allyson’s breakdown was somehow different than just being abandoned by a guy. Allyson’s depression didn’t feel to me like it was tied solely to Willem, though she may have believed that. Allyson’s depression was tied to the fact that Willem gave her a glimpse, showed her a life where she is in control and is making her own decisions. She is finding her own happiness without her mother, father, teacher, Melanie whispering in her ear steering her in another direction. He simply let her be.
So when Allyson starts fighting back, starts trying to take back control of her life of course there is push back from her parents. Her “best friend” disappears. But really that’s okay, because part of finding yourself if finding happiness for yourself. She may not have Melanie anymore but she’s made better friends in Dee and Wren. Allyson learned how to work and earn what she wants and thus it makes her appreciate it more. She found her niche.
She gets closure! I think that’s really what I was rooting for in the end, not so much that she gets back together with Willem but that she finds closure. She needed to make peace with the person she left behind and the one that Willem helped her become. Romantically linked or not he helped change her in a way she didn’t know she needed to change. He helped her grow up.
And the story is fiction, so we need a little faith, trust and pixie dust to get us there but in the end Allyson gets her closure. She finds what she is looking for. She takes charge of her own life. Now that is a character worth rooting for.
Because anything can happen in Just One Day.