I have super mixed feelings on this book, just as I did with its predecessor. This is a sequel of sorts to Just One Day
, arguably the hottest teen romance of 2013, in which Allyson travelled to Europe, met Willem, and spent a whirlwind day with him in Paris. The next morning, she woke up and he was gone. She resumed her life, but was never able to let go of the feelings she had for Willem and decided she had to track him down to find out what had happened. Just One Year
is Willem’s side of the story, picking up on that morning after. We learned why he never came back to Allyson and how he spends the next year.
Note: I doubt that you can really read this book and appreciate it without having read the first one. Just something to keep in mind.
I think Forman is an awesome writer, with a fantastic voice and great stories to tell. I love, love, LOVED how well she constructed these two separate stories without confusing the characters’ perspective – Willem’s story did not contain anything of Allyson’s story that Willem shouldn’t have been privy to given what happened in Just One Day
. Her consistency is pretty rock solid in that regard and that’s fucking impressive.
The thing that caused me to be all skeptical hippo about Just One Day
is mostly that I didn’t think that the time they spent together was particularly romantic, especially given the fact that Willem seemed to have such a history as a player. I understood why Allyson would be confused about the situation and have unresolved emotions, but I also felt that most of her growth came from other aspects of her life and that searching for Willem was counterproductive to that growth. I just didn’t see why he continued to occupy such a significant portion of her brain and heart – and I didn’t reach the end of the book hoping they’d be together.
Honestly? I wanted her to realize she was better off without him. But I think that may be my own personal experiences seeping in to view.
I think I like how Willem’s side of the story handles that aspect. He makes an initial attempt to find Allyson in order to explain himself but realizes the relative futility of his search and gives it up. He occasionally thinks about her – and his friends even convince him to look one more time – but it wasn’t as consuming for him as it was for Allyson. He only thinks about her when he is spurred to and that felt very realistic to me.
That being said, I’m not sure how I feel about Willem’s back story. I think it was fairly realistic, and that his response to his family troubles was to run was believable to me. But I didn’t think that it made him some sort of tragic, wounded soul that would/could/need to be saved by Allyson’s love. I kind of got the impression that’s what Forman wanted me to feel, with the constant references to Allyson’s “I’ll take care of you” line. At the very least, I suspect that’s how many fans will interpret the situation. I guess my skepticism just goes back to how I didn’t find their time together all that remarkable: I didn’t see what made Allyson more special to Willem than anyone else.
Regardless of what I say, though, I’m sure the vast majority of people who loved the first installment will love this just as much. As far as YA literature goes, Gayle Forman is clearly in a league of her own.