Boise Book Nook: "Just One Day"/"Just One Year"

Hello my fellow readers! This week I decided to re-visit Gayle Forman, because while “I Was Here” was great, it’s not my favorite of her books. If you’re looking for a relatable read, you need look no farther: “Just One Day/Just One Year” provides you with relatability, romance, heartbreak, adventure, and self-realization. Who doesn’t want to read that?!


“Just One Day” tells the story of Allyson Healey, a recent high school grad and incoming college freshman. Her life was mapped out, and she had every detail planned; there were no questions about where she’d be in five years or twenty, because she knew. Until she didn’t. While on a European summer tour with her best friend, Allyson does something impulsive for the first time in her life: rather than seeing the “stuffy” Shakespeare performance in a London theater, she instead gets drawn to a street performance by a traveling Shakespeare group. Enter Willem. 

Willem is one of the leads in the travelling troupe; he is everything that Allyson isn’t. He’s impulsive and goes where life takes him; he doesn’t plan anything and just follows his instincts. He completely turns Allyson’s world upside-down. Learning that her travelling group had skipped Paris due to poor weather, Willem invites her to go with him and see the real Paris; and, to everyone’s surprise, including her own, Allyson agrees. The adventure that ensues over the next 24 hours is incredible. And when it’s over...Allyson is lost. After spending the night in an artist’s loft, Allyson wakes up alone; and Willem is nowhere to be found. Allyson rejoins her group, but her life will never be the same.

When Allyson returns home to the States, her plan no longer makes sense. She sinks into a depression, because she doesn’t know who she is or what she wants anymore. She fails her classes, upsets her parents, alienates everyone...until she finds her passion. She takes a Shakespeare acting class, and meets a few people who make her see the light. That’s when Allyson realizes what she has to do: in order to find herself again, she had to find Willem to find out why he disappeared that day. So she starts her own adventure.Allyson gets a job at a restaurant and saves up to go back to Europe. She retraces her steps, looking for “Lulu;” the alias she had used and the ghost that had transformed her. Ultimately her travels lead her to Willem’s home town in the Netherlands, and the book ends when she finally finds Willem.


“Just One Year” rewinds the story back to that morning in the loft, and we see everything through Willem’s eyes. He gets attacked while on his way to get breakfast for “Lulu,” and wakes up in a local hospital that afternoon. By the time he is released, Lulu is gone, and he is heartbroken. He never got her real name, and so he can’t find her.

His own adventure takes him on a journey of self-discovery of his own; we learn just how close our two lovers came to each other multiple times, often just missing each other by minutes. We learn more about Willem; his background, his thoughts, his fears, his motivators…In this book, Gayle Forman does a beautiful job of intertwining the relationship between individual will and fate. Sometimes accidents lead to the most amazing things, and sometimes you have to lose yourself to find yourself.

After all...

“We are born in one day. We die in one day. We can change in one day. And we can fall in love in one day. Anything can happen in just one day.”